11 May 2012

The woman who rose from a junior copywriter to create and lead the Australia and New Zealand Academy of Advertising, Queensland University of Technology's Associate Professor Gayle Kerr, has received the rarely bestowed Billy I. Ross Advertising Education Award from the American Academy of Advertising (AAA).

The award, which has been given only three times before and never to anyone outside the US, recognises innovative work that advances the field of advertising education.

Associate Professor Kerr, from QUT's School of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations, is the founding president of ANZAA which provides advertising academics in Australia and New Zealand with a voice and a source of collaboration.

She has forged close ties with the AAA through teaching exchanges, research and publication and last year co-chaired the American Advertising Association Asia-Pacific Conference hosted by QUT in Brisbane.

Associate Professor Robina Xavier, head of the School of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations in the QUT Business School, said Professor Kerr had reinvigorated the undergraduate advertising program at QUT.

"The 2008 redesign brought a 130 per cent increase in student enrolments in 2009," Professor Xavier said.

"Professor Kerr is a gifted teacher who has harnessed technology to empower learners so that advertising education has become a conversation, not a lecture."

Professor Kerr's contribution to professionalising advertising education has been enormous. She was responsible for introducing many advertising teaching innovations, including Australia's first graduate advertising coursework program and first IMC specialisation course in 1996 and later adding the country's first IMC masters.

Always at the vanguard, Professor Kerr developed the first totally online unit for the Advertising Federation of Australia back in 1999 which brought advertising education to new and hard-to-reach audiences.

Five CEOs of Brisbane advertising agencies were amongst the original cohort of that program which won an Online Learning and Teaching Pioneer Award in 2000.

Professor Kerr has published numerous journal articles, six of which were on the scholarship of teaching - three on IMC curriculum design and teaching and learning approaches and the others on the history of advertising education, the role of research and the place of executive education on the professional development continuum.

She is the lead author of Australia's highest selling marketing communications textbook and has participated in numerous panels and conferences in Australia and internationally.

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Media contact: Niki Widdowson, QUT media officer, 07 3138 2999 or

Associate Professor Gayle Kerr