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Member Spotlight: Stephen L. Whyte

Professor Stephen Whyte has become a legacy among UVU students, faculty members and PR professionals alike. A personal hallmark of his is the quality of personal relationships that he maintains with both students and professionals. Whyte’s warm personality makes it easy for anyone to strike up a conversation with him. Not only is he a highly respected PR professional, but many students and colleagues consider him to be a valued friend and mentor.

Working with students

It’s easy to tell that Whyte treasures the time he spends with students. For him, the most rewarding part of working with students is watching the “light-bulb moment” occur where students understand a difficult concept.

“It’s really rewarding to be able to help [students] accomplish their goals and dreams, whether it’s in the field of communications or another professional area of their lives,” Whyte says. He particularly enjoys watching students launch from college life to full-time work.

“You see them not only elevating the profession but also bringing tremendous value to their organization. You see that spark of excitement in their eyes and voices,” Whyte said. Whyte keeps up with his students and genuinely cares about their personal success even when they no longer walk the halls of UVU.

Mentorship

Whyte generously credited his personal success to the influence of mentors who have guided him throughout his life. When asked about significant mentors, Whyte initially thought back to his days as a young Boy Scout. Whyte’s Scoutmaster told him to “leave things better than he found them” and that is a mantra that Whyte still lives by today.

In keeping with that ideal, he seeks to build up people and organizations through mentorship. “I couldn’t do anything I’m currently doing if it weren’t for incredible mentors who helped me personally and professionally,” Whyte says. “I still have tremendous mentors that I lean on as a sounding board for their perspectives and ideas. They have changed my life.”

Whyte enjoys interacting with students and mentoring them in their professional journey.

Former Utah Valley PRSA president Ron Clark served as a mentor to Whyte, and the two initially met when Whyte was a student. Whyte recalls that Clark took Whyte under his wing and treated him like a seasoned professional even though he hadn’t yet graduated. Without Clark’s influence in his life, Whyte would not have had the opportunities available to him that he did.

Of course, Whyte wants to pay the favor forward. Consequently, he acts as a mentor for countless PR students. Perhaps the secret to his success with students is the way that he personally views them. Rather than seeing them as under-baked pre-professionals, Whyte views students as his colleagues.

“The only difference between us is that I’m a little older and have been through the school of hard knocks,” he says. “My students could be my future employers. I try my best to treat them as professionals.”

Jon Kovach, former UVU PRSSA vice president and mentee of Stephen Whyte said, “Stephen understands the value of connections and readily makes himself available to assist other professionals. Aside from challenging me to be the best professional I could be, Stephen has enhanced my learning experiences, given me real-world applications and delivered countless solutions to many of my challenges. It's no wonder he has influenced so many individuals, companies and the public relations industry.”

Career highlights

When asked about personal highlights from his career path, the first thing Whyte mentioned was marrying his wife and having five great kids.

“I’ve been fortunate to be part of this profession that has allowed me to provide for my family and contribute to other organizations,” he says.

After reflecting back on his professional journey, Whyte mentioned two particular projects that have had personal meaning to him. The first was when he had the opportunity to work with President Matthew Holland on the gorgeous stained glass exhibit titled “Roots of Knowledge” at UVU. Whyte was able to accompany President Holland on trips to Oxford University and to New York City during the project unveiling.

He also enjoyed his experience working in Washington, D.C. where he assisted The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with international relations. While there, he helped build bridges of understanding between organizations.

Current work and awards

Whyte is a tenured associate professor in the Department of Communications at Utah Valley University. He has had the honor to receive the 2012 Public Relations Student Society of America Outstanding National Faculty Adviser award, the  2013 UVU Presidential Award of Excellence for Engaged Learning and the 2017 UVU Alumni Outstanding Educator of the Year Award for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. While he continues to teach in the classroom, Whyte currently is the Associate Vice President of Marketing and Communications at UVU.

Written by Heidi Phelon

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