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Public relations professor Ivan Pinnell passes away at 81

Dr. Pinnell in his office in Martin Hall Dr. Ivan Pinnell surrounded by books in his Martin Hall office. Photo by Alex Wilson.

Dr. R. Ivan “Doc P” Pinnell, a longtime professor of public relations at West Virginia University, passed away on June 14, 2024, at age 81.

Pinnell taught at the WVU P.I. Reed School of Journalism (now the Reed College of Media) for nearly 25 years (1989-2013). In that time, he served as the public relations program chair, associate dean and director of graduate studies.

Beloved by colleagues and students, Pinnell was awarded the 2013 Golden Quill Teaching Award. When he retired that same year, the college established the Commitment to Service Award in Pinnell’s honor, which is awarded annually to an alum who demonstrates his spirit of service.

“Ivan leaves a long legacy of successful students and colleagues, whom he has indelibly influenced,” said Reed College of Media Dean Diana Martinelli. “We are deeply saddened by his passing but deeply grateful to have known and worked with him.”

Originally from Jackson County, West Virginia, Pinnell earned his associate’s degree from Potomac State in 1963 and earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from WVU in 1965. He received his master’s in political science from Jackson State University in 1973 and a doctorate in human communication from the University of Denver in 1984. From 1968-1989, he served in the U.S. Army, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He later taught at the U.S. Air Force Academy and the Defense Information School (DINFOS) before teaching at WVU.

In 2023, in honor of his 80th birthday, he created the Reed College of Media Graduate Scholarships Fund, the first scholarship specifically for Master of Science in Journalism (MSJ) students.

Memories may be shared with the family at If you would like to make a charitable donation in Pinnell’s memory, visit Search for and select “Reed College of Media Graduate Scholarships 2S667” to designate a gift to the fund established by Pinnell last year.

Burial with full military honors will be in Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.