BOSTON: Former GE comms leader Gary Sheffer has been named the Sandra R. Frazier professor of the practice of PR at Boston University’s College of Communication.
Sheffer, who has worked part-time as a senior corporate strategist at Weber Shandwick since last February, will keep his job at the agency when he begins the teaching role on July 1 in preparation for fall classes.
"I am a professor of the practice," Sheffer told PRWeek. "So I want to keep my hand in the practice so I’m reflecting what’s going on in the industry."
Sheffer will be teaching courses on crisis communications, corporate communications, and "how to put together a [comms] budget and run a strategy off of that," he said.
The first 17 years of Sheffer’s career were spent in journalism and government communications roles, including serving as a press aide to former New York Governors Mario Cuomo and George Pataki. He was also a reporter for the Albany Times Union from 1986 to 1989.
Sheffer joined GE in 1999 and began leading the global communications and public affairs department as VP of corporate communications and public affairs in 2003. He was replaced by Deirdre Latour, former senior director of external communications, when he stepped down nearly two years ago. Latour departed GE in March to pursue other opportunities.
"It wasn’t my intention to check all of those boxes," Sheffer said of his career arc. "But it is certainly an area, meaning teaching, that I’ve wanted to do. Teaching is something I have always wanted to do because it’s a way to continue to help grow the profession and its capabilities."
Boston University’s College of Communication is home to the Harold Burson Professorship in Public Relations and has nine full-time public relations faculty members, including Ray Kotcher, who was chairman and CEO of Ketchum from 2000 to 2012.