Known for his creativity and skill in strategic video communication, John Kennedy, a member of the Integrated Marketing and Communications (IMC) staff at the University of Central Missouri, has been recognized as the 2023 recipient of the Carl B. Foster/John  M. Inglish Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Service in Public Relations.

The award is presented annually in recognition of a staff member within IMC. It was made possible by John Inglish, who, upon retiring in 2000 as university director emeritus of public relations, established an endowment through the UCM Alumni Foundation to honor his longtime friend and mentor, Carl Foster.

A pioneer in university communications, Foster retired as director emeritus of public relations in 1986 after 19 years of service to the university. Inglish, a UCM alumnus and longtime Warrensburg resident, devoted more than 27 years to UCM’s Office of Public Relations (now IMC) before he retired.

Kelly Waldram Cramer, associate vice president of IMC, made the 21st presentation of the award, noting that it honors Kennedy’s work over many years. A UCM alumnus who earned a bachelor’s degree in Broadcasting and Film in 1992 and a master’s in Communication in 2013, Kennedy has served IMC since Feb. 2011 as Video and Multimedia Producer. His experience as a public relations professional at UCM, however, dates back to 2002 when he joined the public relations office as News Bureau Manager, followed by service as Web Managing Editor in the office, and time spent at KMOS-TV as a Multimedia Producer.

In his current role, Kennedy is a creative storyteller who is responsible for multimedia productions that demonstrate the UCM brand and support the university’s strategic communications. His work includes video production, script writing, editing and voice-over for university campaigns, and can be viewed on many different university platforms. This includes social media, websites, as well as television and radio.

Waldram Cramer announced Kennedy’s selection for the Foster-Inglish Prize during a recent staff meeting. She noted that when she thinks about this year’s award recipient, words such as “collaborative, student-focused, eager to help, volunteerism, kind hearted, talented, integrity, positive spirit, cheerleader for others, and love for UCM” come to mind.

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She described Kennedy as someone with a strong sense of humor, often making impromptu “dad” jokes which have endeared him to his colleagues. This is in addition to other helpful contributions he makes to office discussions and staff meetings, and his frequent displays of thoughtfulness and kindness not only to other office members but to everyone who engages with him.

“He is very popular on campus because he is a delight to work with,” Waldram Cramer said about Kennedy. “He is extremely dedicated to his craft. I love to watch him work.”
She pointed out that Kennedy’s passion for his job shines through in his projects. Part of a two-person video operation, he is also a great supporter of his colleague, Eric Boedeker, and often seizes opportunities to praise his co-worker’s contributions by sharing video clips with others to ensure his colleague’s efforts are noticed.

While Kennedy serves IMC, he epitomizes the university’s “Education for Service” motto by using all of his communication skills to do his job effectively and to perform other tasks that aren’t part of his job description. These opportunities incorporate his strong public speaking abilities and a passion for music. Kennedy is never one to shy away from an audience, no matter how large. He has been recruited to emcee large-scale events such as commencement on many occasions, and has sung the “Alma Mater” and the National Anthem at public events. This has taken him to venues ranging from Crane Stadium at UCM to Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. He also performs in a band and does solo events throughout the region, including the Lake of the Ozarks.

While concurring with Waldram Cramer on all of her excellence points about Kennedy, Susan Smedley, UCM’s vice president for integrated marketing and communications, emphasized the word “kind” when she spoke about this year’s recipient of the Foster-Inglish Prize winner. She simply notes, “We need more kind people in the world. We need more John Kennedys."

Kennedy commented on the award by noting, "It's a special and humbling experience to be recognized as the Foster-Inglish Prize recipient. The Integrated Marketing and Communications office is filled with outstanding employees, so being selected from this group of amazing colleagues makes this particularly meaningful."

Kennedy said he is also grateful to receive an award named for Inglish. He met him shortly after Inglish retired but continued to serve the university by assisting with the alumni magazine.

“He stressed the goal of writing a compelling story, but doing so with an economy of words. It was great advice that I still strive to follow today,” said Kennedy, who remembers sharing his work with Inglish to review.

In the photo: Kelly Waldram Cramer, left, associate vice president of Integrated Marketing and Communications at the University of Central Missouri, honors John Kennedy, video and multimedia producer in IMC, with the Carl B. Foster/John M. Inglish Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Service in Public Relations.

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