New Advertising Center Dedicated in Honor of Beloved Professor and Wife

September 22, 2022

The formal dedication of the new Drs. E. Lawrence and Adele V. Deckinger Center for Integrated Advertising Communications took place on Tuesday, September 20, signifying St. John’s University’s continued commitment to offer students state-of-the-art, immersive learning environments.

“My most sincere thanks go to the Deckinger family for their generous support,” said Luca Iandoli, Ph.D., Interim Dean and Professor, Division of Computer Science, Mathematics, and Science, The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies (CCPS), in his opening remarks. “The Deckinger Center functions as a specialized learning environment and is quickly becoming the home for all our advertising programs. It’s an incredible asset that increases the competitiveness of our programs and the quality of the learning of our students.”

In 2007, the Deckinger family established the Drs. E. Lawrence and Adele V. Deckinger Advertising Research Fund in recognition of the Deckingers’ work in and commitment to advertising research. Elliott Lawrence Deckinger, Ph.D. ’96HON taught at the University from 1982 until 2007. He passed away in 2008 and was predeceased by his wife in 2002. 

“My parents loved St. John’s and St. John’s loved them back,” said their daughter, Nancy Deckinger. “One of the ways that they showed their love for St. John’s was in donating money for what ultimately has become this center. My hope is that it culminates in something substantial to further St. John’s students’ learning in all aspects of the field of advertising and prepares them for fulfilling careers.”

This specialized learning space within CCPS is modeled after a typical advertising agency, giving students a preview of careers in the field and invaluable experiential learning opportunities. It features a touch-down computer center (i.e., a series of smaller workstations shared by multiple users) with state-of-the-art Mac stations, Cintiq drawing monitors, format printers, writeable walls, and multiple video display screens.

According to the US Department of Labor, advertising, promotion, and marketing managers are expected to experience 10 percent job growth from 2021 to 2031, double the average expected during the same period in other fields.

“The Deckinger Center reflects St. John’s commitment to enhancing the teaching and learning environments for faculty and students,” explained Kevin T. James ’11C, ’13MBA, Assistant Dean and Director of Fiscal and Administrative Affairs, CCPS. “It will be a creative common space where students connected to the world of advertising can convene and nurture their ideas.”

Students  attending classes in the new center echoed that sentiment. “The center is a much more comfortable learning environment than a typical classroom or lecture hall,” said junior Gabriella Dos Santos, an Advertising Communication major from New Hyde Park, NY. “It’s much easier to collaborate with other students and with our professors.” 

John A. Swan, Jr., Associate Professor, Division of Mass Communication, used the occasion to introduce a new scholarship, the Advancing Advertising Scholarship Fund.

“Advertising is, and should be, a business of diversity. There isn’t an individual that we do not touch or reach,” he said, explaining the thinking behind the scholarship. “Someone who has the ability to become a great ad person should not be stopped from doing that because they don’t have the funds available.”

Dr. Deckinger’s career in advertising dates back to 1937 when he began working in the mailroom of Biow Company. He joined Grey Advertising in 1956, holding several positions there before retiring in 1982 as General Manager and Executive Vice President.

That same year, he decided to share his years of experience with the next generation of advertising professionals by joining St. John’s University as a Professor of Marketing. A beloved professor and mentor to scores of would-be advertising professionals, he was instrumental in bringing the National Student Advertising Competition to the University.

Recalling Chevrolet’s “The Heartbeat of America” advertising campaign that was part of the competition under the guidance of his father one year, Matthew Deckinger explained,

“The heartbeat of St. John’s is its people. Ask any professor, any donor, and any staff member—they will say it’s always been about the kids.”

Dr. Deckinger was awarded the President’s Medal and was bestowed the title of Distinguished Visiting Professor. In 1996, the University honored both Deckingers with Doctor of Humane Letters degrees.

In his curriculum vitae, Dr. Deckinger described the experience of teaching at St. John’s as “a wondrous, rewarding journey.”