November 7, 2014
The University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication has named Bryan H. Reber, a public relations professor, as the first C. Richard Yarbrough Professor in Crisis Communication Leadership.
Reber will be tasked with increasing opportunities for students to study crisis communication, serving as a commentator on crises in popular media and positioning the Grady College as the preeminent source of crisis communication leadership, analysis and expertise.
“Crisis communication has always been a part of public relations practice, but it is becoming increasingly important,” said Reber, who also serves as the assistant head of the department of advertising and public relations. “Everyone now has a megaphone that they can use, so even smaller groups can bring pressure on organizations whereas before all they could do was picket or boycott.”
The professorship—and eventual chair—is funded by syndicated columnist and UGA Foundation Emeritus Trustee Dick Yarbrough (pictured on the right with Reber.) Yarbrough is a 1959 alumnus and Fellow of the Grady College. During a career in corporate public relations spanning more than 40 years, he worked as a vice president with BellSouth and as managing director of communications and government relations for the Atlanta Committee for the 1996 Olympic Games where he led the committee through its response to and aftermath of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing.
“This is a wise expenditure on my part because the Grady College—which has turned out outstanding graduates in a lot of areas—is going to turn out the next generation of professionals with a lot of understanding on how to manage crisis situations,” Yarbrough said.
Reber’s experience includes a combination of 15 years of practice in the non-profit arena and decades of research in the corporate and activist arenas. He worked in public relations at Bethel College in Kansas. Reber also conducted research and consulted for the University of Alabama, Alabama Entrepreneurial Research Network, Sierra Club, Ketchum, Missouri Public Service Commission and others. Before joining the faculty of Grady College in 2004, he taught public relations at the University of Alabama. Reber is currently teaching Grady College’s first-ever crisis communication course, which places an emphasis on the leadership aspect of crisis communication.
In addition to funding the professorship, which is managed by the University of Georgia Foundation, Yarbrough, a past president of the UGA National Alumni Association, provides stipends to hundreds of Grady College students through the Yarbrough Student Support Fund. The Grady College also has the C. Richard Yarbrough Laboratory.
About Grady College
Established in 1915, the UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers undergraduate majors in journalism, advertising, public relations, digital and broadcast journalism and mass media arts. The college offers two graduate degrees and is home to the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media. For more information, see www.grady.uga.edu
or follow @UGAGrady on Twitter.