“It is important to be focused,” Eastern Michigan University Professor of Public Relations Lolita Cummings Carson says when asked what aspect of her personality has most helped her succeed. “I know what I am doing five minutes from now, five days from now, five years from now. I always have a plan.”
Cummings Carson’s focus has served her well, making her one of Eastern’s more popular professors. After coming to EMU in 1994 as an assistant professor of public relations, Cummings Carson poured her vast energy into the job, leading her to tenure and the title of associate professor in 1998. She was promoted to full professor in 2003.
Since first arriving at EMU, Cummings Carson has distinguished herself while speaking at academic and professional conferences, publishing in academic and professional journals, and teaching for two different EMU colleges (Arts and Sciences – and Business). And, yet, through it all, she has kept her sights on what’s most important to her –EMU’s students.
As successful as Cummings Carson has been at EMU, her original plan did not always include teaching. After graduating from Western Michigan University in 1986 with a bachelor of science degree in communications, Cummings Carson, raised by a family of educators, was determined to do anything but teach. So immediately after graduation, she pursued her chosen field of public relations, first at the School Employees Credit Union in Battle Creek, Mich., and then in 1987 at Flint’s Sloan Museum.
Always in need of a challenge, Cummings Carson soon began seeking other endeavors after helping to triple the museum’s attendance figures, and in 1990 landed a position as director of marketing and public relations at the YWCA of Greater Flint. While there, she enrolled in EMU’s graduate program and earned a master’s degree in communications in 1992. In February of 1994, she decided to try corporate public relations and began work for Ameritech (now AT&T) as manager of employee communications. Little did she know that in just six short months she would be finally trying her hand at the family business — teaching. Although Cummings Carson had previous part-time experiences as a community college and university instructor, it did not take her long to realize that she wanted her stay at EMU to be a permanent one. “Once I arrived on campus in the role of educator, I felt like I should have been here all along,” Cummings Carson says.
Today, as if she were not busy enough with her responsibilities as a professor, Cummings Carson also remains active in her field as a consultant to numerous nonprofit organizations and a public relations agency for which she provides services in the areas of grant writing, editing and proofreading, crisis communications, marketing and promotions. A wife and mother of two children and two step-children, Cummings Carson also writes and edits “The Cornerstone,” a quarterly newsletter for her church, Ebenezer Ministries in Flint. Her professional memberships include the Public Relations Society of America, an organization from which she earned Universal Accreditation in 1999.
You can connect with Lolita via email.