Arizona State University hires former Edelman CEO Hass as comms professor

Hass says he aims to impart more business thinking and awareness to students going into careers in PR.

Mark Hass
Mark Hass

TEMPE, AZ:  Former Edelman U.S. president and CEO Mark Hass is joining Arizona State University in August as a strategic communications professor.

Hass will be a full-time professor, dividing his time between ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the W. P. Carey School of Business. He will report to Amy Hillman, dean of the Carey School and Christopher Callahan, dean of the Cronkite School.

Hass told PRWeek that he will be teaching a basic introductory marketing class to juniors at the Carey School, and is still in discussions about what he will be teaching at the Cronkite School – likely a strategic communications or journalism class, he explained.

Hass’ appointment is part of the schools’ efforts to link up more business and communications programs. This is what attracted Hass, who noted that a lot of business schools do not do an "adequate" job of preparing students with an understanding of how important strategic comms will be to their business careers.

"I hope to be able to inject more business thinking and awareness into the students going into careers in PR," said Hass. "This way, when they set foot into a meeting that involves a CEO or CFO, they will be conversant and comfortable with the language of business and what business is about."

Hass said he decided to go into teaching because he finds it stimulating to be around young, smart people. He also sees teaching as a more sustainable career than being a PR exec.

"Being a PR executive is hard -- you are traveling a lot, you are just never home," he said. "I was looking for something that was more sustainable; something I could engage with that would be challenging and beneficial. I hope I am teaching for another ten years."

Previously, Hass worked at Edelman for five years in various roles before leaving the firm in 2014. He held leadership positions in Asia and was named U.S. CEO in February 2012. Russell Dubner succeeded him in the role when he left.

At the time, global CEO Richard Edelman was quoted in a Motherboard post as saying the firm fired Hass in part because of the way he responded to the investigation about PR agencies’ work with climate-change deniers.  

"Richard Edelman and I have settled the matter privately," said Hass. He declined to comment further.

Since departing Edelman, Hass has worked as founding partner of Peconic First, a boutique investment and consulting firm focused on digital innovation in the marketing and communications industries. He has also been a senior advisor for Teneo Strategy since September 2015.

Although Hass’ primary focus will be his role at ASU, he said he would maintain his work with Peconic and Teneo.

Earlier in his career, Hass served as partner and CEO for MH Group Communications, which was purchased and merged into Edelman in 2010. While there, he worked closely with clients such as United Airlines during its merger with Continental Airlines, developing digital corporate communications strategies. 

Before that, Hass was global CEO of MS&L Worldwide, which rebranded as MSLGroup in 2010, uniting MS&L Worldwide, Publicis Consultants, and Publicis Events. He joined MS&L in 2002, when his first independent public relations agency, Hass Associates, was acquired by and merged into MS&L.

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