LOS ANGELES—Steve Harris, longtime head of global communications at General Motors, has joined the faculty of the public relations studies program at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. Harris, who retired from GM last year, is serving as executive in residence in the current spring 2010 semester, teaching a graduate-level seminar entitled “Case Analysis of a Historic Corporate Transition: General Motors.”
Harris, a USC alumnus, will teach a 15-week course focusing on analysis of the management and communications aspects of key events in General Motors’ recent history, ranging from its position as the largest company in the world, to its involvement in films such as “Who Killed the Electric Car,” through its entry into and emergence from Chapter 11.
For their final project, students will work as competitive groups to develop campaigns supporting the launch of the revolutionary Chevrolet Volt, the first mass market extended range all electric cars. Mid-way through the semester they will be briefed by GM representatives from the Volt development team, and at the end of the semester they will present to, and their plans will be evaluated by Harris and senior GM Communications leaders.
Harris has spent more than 40 years in communications. He first joined GM in 1967 as a lecturer with GM's Previews of Progress educational program after graduating from the USC with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism. In late 1979, he joined American Motors as head of product public relations, moving on to Chrysler as the director of corporate public relations in late 1987. He was named vice president, communications for Chrysler in January 1998. Following the merger of Chrysler and Daimler-Benz in late 1998, he was named senior vice president, communications.
In early 1999, Harris returned to General Motors after a 20-year absence as vice president, global communications, a post he held until the end of 2003, when he retired and opened a communications consulting practice, working with two agencies and a number of top U.S. companies. He was asked to return to lead GM’s 600-member global communication team in February 2006. He retired from GM in October of last year.