Pat Ford takes 'partial leave of absence' from Burson for University of Florida role

Ford is joining the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications as a professional-in-residence for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Pat Ford
Pat Ford

WASHINGTON: Pat Ford, worldwide vice chair and chief client officer at Burson-Marsteller, is taking a "partial leave of absence" to join the University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications as a professional-in-residence.

Ford will work full-time at Burson until August 7, when his title will change to senior adviser. He will continue to provide counsel on matters pertaining to Burson and its clients while working for the University of Florida full-time for the 2017-18 academic year. Classes will start on August 21 and run through May 2018.

"The university position is a one-year thing, at the end of which I anticipate coming fully back to D.C. and rejoining my Burson colleagues," Ford said.

The University of Florida is determining what Ford will teach as professional-in-residence, but he said it will be a combination of crisis and issues management and the business of PR. Ford will teach two or three classes each semester.

"In recent years, I have had a huge commitment to trying to work with young professional and students in a variety of ways to help them think about how to develop their career and personal brand," Ford said. "When [the university] called me about this it was very intriguing because I’ve been doing a lot of it informally, and this gives me a chance to pursue that passion."

Burson is determining who will take over Ford’s responsibilities as worldwide vice chair and chief client officer in his absence, he said.

"[Burson CEO and worldwide chair] Don Baer and the rest of our leadership at Burson have been very supportive of this," said Ford. "They know my passion for doing this kind of thing and so they have been very open to working out this partial leave of absence."

Ford has worked at Burson since 1989 in various roles.

"We are excited for [Ford] and for the students at the University of Florida because he is going to bring a tremendous amount of wisdom and expertise to that experience, and we are thrilled we are going to be able to continue to work with one of the greatest colleagues anyone has ever had," said Burson worldwide chair and CEO Don Baer.

This story was updated on June 21 with comment from Baer.

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