Ray Simon, professor emeritus of PR from Utica College, celebrated his 90th birthday last weekend with a party thrown by some of the leaders of the PR industry, including Bob Feldman of GCI Group, Rob Flaherty of Ketchum, Dave Armon of PR Newswire, and Ga
Simon founded one of the first undergraduate PR programs in the country, back in 1951, and went on to teach, mentor, and guide students for almost 50 years. He was the force behind Utica College's founding support of PRSSA and established a network of students and alumni that is still active today.
Harold Burson toasted Simon at the event, noting that the dozen or so Simon students hired by his firm were "the best trained entry-level people we hired. They could write, they were clear thinkers, and they had a strong sense of responsibility."
Feldman is heading a committee that is raising money to establish the Professor Raymond Simon Convergence Media Center at the college. "He was a tough teacher, demanding, but a very sweet guy," Feldman says. "He encouraged me to pursue a career in PR and actively helped make things possible."
Simon is clearly proud of his successful former students and is extremely pragmatic about the fundamentals of the profession. "Writing ability is crucial," he says. "If the students don't have it, we don't encourage them."
The affection and regard bestowed on him from many in the business is a credit to his wisdom and passion for the profession.