Dr. Tilson holds a Ph.D.in Public Relations from the University of Stirling in Scotland, the first in Europe to graduate with a doctorate in the field. He is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and past national chair of PRSA’s International Professional Interest Section and president of the Miami chapter of PRSA. In 2013 he was selected a U.S. Department of State Fulbright Scholar to develop research, curriculum and programming on cultural diversity and interfaith dialogue with colleagues in Communication at the University of Ottawa.
In 1998, he was inducted into PRSA's College of Fellows, a "hall of fame" for practitioners and educators who "have demonstrated superior capability, exhibited personal and professional qualities as a role model, and advanced the state of the profession." Since the inception of the College in 1988, less than two percent of PRSA's almost 20,000 members have been so honored. In 2008, he received the Bill Adams PRSA Lifetime Achievement Award (Miami Chapter Public Relations Society of America) for “exceptional leadership and contributions to the profession, community and education.” The University of Miami presented him its Excellence in Teaching Award in 2005.
He has published and lectured internationally on public relations, religion, and tourism, including as a European University Public Relations Confederation Visiting Scholar at Complutense University in Madrid and Autónoma University in Barcelona. His book, Toward the Common Good: Perspectives in International Public Relations (Allyn & Bacon), was one of the first books on the subject. In 2013 he was named a U.S. Department of State Fulbright Scholar to develop research, curriculum and programming on cultural diversity and interfaith dialogue with colleagues in Communication at the University of Ottawa. His book, The Promotion of Devotion: Saints, Celebrities and Shrines (2011, Common Ground), is a pioneering work on communication, religion and culture.
Prior to UM, Tilson was a public relations manager for AT&T/BellSouth for 16 years, directing corporate charitable contributions and educational relations programs in Florida. He was instrumental in obtaining BellSouth’s corporate sponsorship of Judaica, the Center for the Fine Arts exhibition of Hebrew manuscripts from the Vatican during Pope John Paul II’s visit to Miami in 1987.