UGA professor named first C. Richard Yarbrough Professor in Crisis Communication Leadership

The University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication has named Bryan H. Reber, a public relations professor, as its first C. Richard Yarbrough Professor in Crisis Communication Leadership.

Reber will be tasked with increasing opportunities for students to study crises, 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 Dick Yarbrough, a 1959 alumnus and Fellow of the Grady College. During a career in corporate public relations spanning more than 40 years, Yarbrough 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 is currently teaching the college's first-ever crisis communication course, which places an emphasis on the leadership aspect of crisis communication.

In addition to funding the professorship, Yarbrough, a past president of the UGA National Alumni Association, provides stipends to hundreds of Grady students through the Yarbrough Student Support Fund. The Grady College also boasts the C. Richard Yarbrough Laboratory.

Dean Charles Davis thanked Yarbrough and his wife, Jane, for having transformed public relations education at Grady College through the years with a series of gifts centered on advancing student learning.

“Their generosity will shape thought leadership in crisis communications, a field Dick helped create throughout his illustrious career in public relations, and will serve generations of Grady students,” Davis said.

Reber is available to comment on a wide range of crisis communication issues. He has researched, written and presented about crises involving corporations and activist organizations. He can be reached at 706-542-3178 or

Date: November 7, 2014
Author:  Writer: Stephanie Moreno,, 706-542-4031
Contact:  Bryan H. Reber,, 706-542-3178