Dustin York, EdD

dustin york

News Flash: PR is High Energy Work

At an early point in his career, Dustin York, EdD, assistant professor of communication, felt his students should learn something new “every second”—so he talked furiously. These days, he works hard to ensure students are the ones doing the talking—whether it’s into a microphone, a television camera, or to each other. Still, the high energy level in his classrooms is contagious.

“A message from Dr. York that I will never forget is, ‘Take all of the nervous energy that you have and turn it into excited energy.’ This changed my life, as I was able to get over my deep fear of public speaking,” says Andy Painter, communication major.

York first came to teaching as an adjunct instructor in Seattle, when his day job was at a high-powered PR agency. “I was working for cool clients like Nike and Pepsi. Then I taught a class in public relations and fell in love with it. It was on Tuesday nights and I looked forward to it throughout the week.” Eventually, he moved into full-time teaching, but not before he worked as a public relations consultant on a 2008 political campaign. York focused on non-verbal cues projected by the candidate. His research on non-verbal communication has been published in Entrepreneur magazine and PRDaily.

Students appreciate the expertise he brings to his class. “I feel like Dr. York gave up a lifestyle that he loved, public relations, to pursue one that he enjoys even more, teaching,” Painter says. “The classroom vibe comes directly from Dr. York’s amount of enthusiasm. The class can tell that he really cares about what he is saying, so in turn the class cares, as well.”

“What I love about public relations is the ever-evolving, fast-paced environment in which you can actually see the results of your hard work, either through a well executed event or a segment you earn on Good Morning America,” York says. “The need to strategically think through a campaign like a game of chess without becoming repetitive is what not only drives my PR passion, but is also the reason this field continues to grow dramatically and rank as a top career in national polls.”

York teaches public relations and e-media courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level. He emphasizes technology, often introducing new apps to students as learning engagement tools, as well as important career knowledge.

“I’m going to sound super cheesy, but that look on a student’s face when they finally understand something and they realize they can use it right now—that’s what keeps me going,” he says. “I showed a student a simple software to use for a project she was assigned at work. She got a raise because she learned how to use it.”

York facilitated the launch of a student organization that works on public relations projects with one client each semester. Past clients have included the St. Louis Library and Safe Connections. He also serves as faculty adviser to Pawprint, Maryville’s online student newspaper, The Bark, a student broadcast news station, and Saints Talk, a student sports podcast.