Jeffrey Shafer, vice president of global corporate communications at Lenovo, is the 2016 Wells Fargo Endowed Chair in the Department of Mass Communication. Photo by Daniel Hargrove / Echo staff photographer

Professional brings career experience to the classroom

November 3, 2016

Meet someone who’s taking the experience of working with a global company and bringing it to his classroom at N.C. Central University.

Jeffrey Shafer is the Vice President of global corporate communications at Lenovo, a technology company based in Morrisville, N.C.

Shafer was selected to be this semester’s Wells Fargo Endowed Chair in the Department of Mass Communication.

Every year NCCU gets the chance to hire an educator to teach a course through the Wells Fargo endowment. Shafer is currently teaching “Special Topics in Public Relations” and “Cases and Campaigns in Public Relations” in the Department of Mass communication for the fall semester.

“I’ve long wanted to sort of take 20 plus years of experience and do something I think is good with it,” Shafer said. “Coming here and teaching the students, interacting with them, and participating in these classes is one of the most fun and rewarding things I’ve ever got to do.”

As a part of the endowment, the appointed Endowed Chair must give an engaging presentation to NCCU students, faculty and staff.

On Oct. 27, Shafer presented his lecture “College to Corporate: Four Things Students Should Know” at the H.M. Michaux School of Auditorium.

Kayla Baker, a student in both of Shafer’s courses, said she appreciates the practical experience that Shafer brings to the table.

“From what he talked about in the presentation the practical experience is important.” Baker said. “I know we have a practicum class, but unfortunately for some of us we don’t really get the practical experience. I think that’s what he brings to the table in addition to the guest speakers that he brings in as well.”

According to his biography, Shafer has more than 20 years of corporate communications experience.

Prior to joining Lenovo, he was Senior Vice President at Fleishman-Hillard Inc., the world’s largest public relations agency, managing a multi milliondollar account portfolio and a wide range of national and international communications programs.

Before that, He spent about 15 years in PR positions at a variety of high tech companies, including CompuServe, Ericsson, Sprint and an Internet startup.

“I’m a pretty mediocre teacher. I’m learning how to be a teacher, but what I do have is a lot of practical experience about what’s happening right now and about the world of public relations,” Shafer said.

“Every day I’m dealing with practical things so I can bring those sorts of lessons and experiences to the students.”

Baker said she has had overall a positive experience with Shafer’s lessons.

“He is one of my favorite teachers,” she said. “Unfortunately, he’ll be leaving this semester. I do think I gained valuable education, but I also gained a valuable relationship with him. I think that beyond him leaving we’ll still be able to communicate, and he’ll still be able to help me with things that I need help with.”

In his courses, Shafer brings in corporate professionals to talk to students about what it’s like to work in communications careers.

Some guests included Ken Eudy, the founder of Capstrat, a public relations firm in Raleigh, N.C.

The News and Observer’s David Ranii and Fleishman-Hillard’s Britt Carter also made appearances.

Shafer’s “mentor” Lisa Paulin, an associate professor of mass communication, applauds Shafer on his teaching experience thus far.

“He was nervous about teaching, but I was not nervous about him teaching,” said Paulin. “I was pretty sure that he was going to do a great job and that the students would enjoy his classes. I am really pleased and I know he’s worked really hard.”

When it’s all said and done, Shafer said just wants his students to get out and reach for opportunities.

“I want the students to understand that communications is a valuable and marketable discipline. There are real opportunities out there if they apply themselves and put in the work.”

Story by Deja Spooney

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