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Apple Day features wisdom of African-American pioneer

March 02, 2010 12:00AM

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The tradition of Apple Day dates back to 1907, when then-mayor Clarence Price was fined a barrel of apples for sitting in the seat of a legislator while lobbying for money to build Russ Hall.

Pittsburg State University's annual Apple Day Convocation will be held March 4, and will celebrate the accomplishments of alumni and faculty who have made a big impact on the university - and the world.

Dr. Inez Y. Kaiser, the first African-American woman to open and operate a public relations firm in the U.S., will be the keynote speaker at the event, which begins at 3 p.m. in McCray Recital Hall

Kaiser earned a bachelor of science degree in education (home economics) from PSU in 1938 and a master's of science degree from Columbia (N.Y.) College in 1958. She also studied at Chicago University, Rockhurst University and Dartmouth College. In 1952, Lincoln University awarded her an honorary doctor of law degree.

Dr. Kaiser began her career as a teacher in the Kansas City schools. In 1960, she became the first African-American woman in the U.S. to open a public relations firm, Inez Kaiser and Associates, Inc. Now past age 90, she remains the CEO of the firm to this day.

Over her lifetime, Dr. Kaiser has been a pioneer, recording a long list of "firsts" as an African-American and as a woman. Among them: member of the Public Relations Society of America, which has named two scholarships in her name; member of the Advertising and Sales Executive Club; inducted into the Hall of Fame for Women in Public Relations; member of the Chamber of Commerce of Kansas City; member of the Kansas City Women's Chamber of Commerce, member of the American Marketing Association and member of the American Women in Radio and Television.

In addition, Dr. Kaiser was one of four Americans selected by CBS Television to participate in the worldwide broadcast of "What's Right with America." She was selected to represent U.S. women at the United Nations Conference on the Economic Status of Women in Liberville, Gabon. The U.S. Department of Commerce named her the National Business Advocate of the Year in 1997.

An adviser to Presidents Nixon and Ford on issues relating to minority women in business, Kaiser worked with Lever Brothers, Sears & Roebuck, Seven-Up and Pillsbury on marketing to African-American consumers.

An author and frequent speaker, Dr. Kaiser lives in Overland Park, Kan.

In addition to the keynote address, the Apple Day Convocation will include recognition of the Distinguished Service Award winners Harlan Hess and Rob Kobel, as well as recognition of the 2010 Golden Gorilla Award winners and the introduction of the 2010 Outstanding Faculty.

Hess received a bachelor of science degree from PSU in 1963 and a master's degree from PSU in 1968. Kobel received a BST from PSU in 1980. The Ralf Thomas Distinguished Service Award recognizes service to the university. A reception for the Distinguished Service Award winners will be held at 2 p.m. in the Wilkinson Alumni Center.

At this year's Apple Day Convocation, a sustainability competition between student organizations will also be announced. The competition will consist of recycling efforts and a sustainability action plan, with winners to be announced in May. Like past years, students present at this year's convocation will be entered in the Centennial Scholarship Giveaway through the PSU Foundation, and will receive free apples from faculty and staff.       

"Apple Day is completely unique Pitt State tradition that focuses on our history," said Edie McCracken, program coordinator for campus activities. "We use it as a time to focus on the future and the difference students can make today."

---Pitt State---

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