By Ashley Zsedenyi, staff writer
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Campbellsville University recently added to its growing number of professors with doctorate degrees.
Kara Presnell, assistant professor of mass communication, public relations, at CU, received a Ph.D. in communications from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va., in May 2008, after she successfully defended her doctoral dissertations in March.
Another mass communication professor, Jason Garrett, also received his doctorate in communications this year. Presnell said she likes to joke that she was the first Ph.D. in the department while acknowledging that she and Garrett earned their doctoral designations in the same week: she on Monday; Garrett on Friday.
Presnell’s dissertation, “Media, Celebrities and Identification: An Examination of Fan Relationships with Dale Earnhardt amid the Culture of NASCAR,” focuses on the theory of parasocial relationships with mediated celebrities, or the relationships fans of celebrities feel they develop with their favorite celebrity based on media interaction and exposure.
During her research, which she said was “interesting,” Presenell spent time with a number of loyal Earnhardt fans who shared their stories of meeting the legendary NASCAR driver and their grief at his untimely death.
“It was fascinating. All of the people that I interviewed really felt they knew Dale Earnhardt and they deeply grieved his passing,” she said.
“Their attachment to Earnhardt was far beyond my own personal experience with any celebrity, so I could not relate to it, but I did sympathize with the grief and loss they still felt more than seven years after his death.”
Presnell, who is from Hickory, N.C., but resides in Campbellsville, received her master of arts in public relations from Bond University in Queensland, Australia, in 1999 and bachelor of arts in communication from Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory in 1991.
For more information about Campbellsville University or the mass communication department, call (800) 264-6014.
Campbellsville University is a private, comprehensive institution located in South Central Kentucky. Founded in 1906, Campbellsville University is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and has an enrollment of 2,601 students who represent 93 Kentucky counties, 27 states and 31 foreign nations. Listed in U.S.News & World Report’s 2009 “America’s Best Colleges,” CU is ranked 22nd in “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the South for the second consecutive year. CU has been ranked 16 consecutive years with U.S.News & World Report. The university has also been named to America’s Best Christian Colleges®. Campbellsville University is located 82 miles southwest of Lexington, Ky., and 80 miles southeast of Louisville, Ky. Dr. Michael V. Carter is in his tenth year as president.