Remembering former chair Kenward Atkin

Posted on: January 15, 2011

Kenward L. Atkin, former chair of the Department of Advertising (now the Department of Advertising, Public Relations, and Retailing), passed away on Dec. 27 in East Lansing.

Lansing State Journal obituary

Atkin was chair of the department from 1967-1974, years of rapid change in the industry and department. Atkin recruited businesses to sponsor course projects for the advertising management and the campaign courses. These projects brought together theory and practice. He also added new faculty members who greatly expanding the number of master's students in the department.

In the early 1970s, the department initiated the practice of recognizing and honoring outstanding seniors and master's students. Many of these, and many others too, subsequently rose to top management and other high positions in advertising agencies, media, corporations and non-profit organizations. Hundreds of MSU advertising graduates took positions in Chicago, Detroit and New York, as well as elsewhere in the USA and several other countries. 

During Atkin's time as chair, MSU won the National American Advertising Federation Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) in 1973 and received second place in 1974.

A World War II veteran, Atkin spent 10 years in business executive positions before joining the faculty of MSU. Atkin was chair of the advertising division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in 1970. He served as president of the American Academy of Advertising in 1974 and 1975. In 1974, he joined the faculty of California State University Fullerton, and later became dean at Southern Methodist University.

A native of Michigan, Atkin received his Ph.D. in communication from MSU in 1961 after receiving his bachelor's and master's degrees from University of Michigan. He is the first graduate of the communication Ph.D. program, which currently ranks in the top three of communication programs nationwide.

Atkin is also the father of the chair of the Department of Communication, Charles Atkin. one of three of his children to become college professors. All of his children have Spartan degrees.

A private memorial service is scheduled for July 2011.

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