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PSU begins Community Campaign on March 7

February 28, 2014 4:00PM

Pittsburg State University will launch its annual Community Campaign, “Partners in Progress,” on Friday, March 7, at the Wilkinson Alumni Center. The kickoff is being held in conjunction with the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce’s First Friday breakfast, which features Rich Luker, a nationally recognized sports and leisure researcher, who will speak via a satellite feed.

Tickets for the breakfast, which begins at 7:30 a.m., are $10. Reservations are requested by Monday, March 3, and may be made by phone at 235-4768 or 231-1000, or by email at

Although the Community Campaign lasts throughout the year, the annual kickoff is a time when the university and area businesses formally celebrate the longstanding partnership between the university and the business community. The co-chairs for this year’s campaign are Dr. Shane Kannarr and Lori Ann Spachek.

Event organizers said Luker’s choice as speaker reinforces that theme of cooperation between the community and the university.

In 2007, Luker visited Pittsburg to produce a video about the game-day atmosphere in the community on days the Gorilla football team plays in Carnie Smith Stadium. The NCAA used that video extensively as a guide for other NCAA Division II communities to develop positive relationships between the community and the campus.

Luker is perhaps best known for his creation of the ESPN Sports Poll in 1994. The Sports Poll was the first dedicated ongoing intelligence service to collect information from Americans on their interests and activities related to sports.

In 1999, Luker conducted research that identified a sense of loss of community felt by most Americans. His study led him to believe that our service-based economy, coupled with the effects of communication technology, has led to less face-to-face interaction between family, friends and neighbors. Luker began to develop strategies to reinvigorate American community in 2001. In 2009, he published “Simple Community,” which documents the loss of American community and provides a way for American brands to profitably invest in restoring their communities.

Luker's research has been featured in many national publications including The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, AARP Magazine and Advertising Age. He has appeared on national news programs on ABC, FOX, ESPN, and NPR.

Luker has provided strategic consulting and research for a wide range of clients including major brands like Coca-Cola, VISA, McDonald's, General Motors, Anheuser-Busch, Sony and NIKE, major sports leagues like the NFL, Major League Baseball and the NCAA, and media companies like Disney/ESPN, Fox, Turner and Sports Illustrated.

Luker earned his a master’s degree in psychology and a doctorate in a joint communication and psychology doctoral program from the University of Michigan. At Michigan, Luker trained and worked in the Institute for Social Research.

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