Brenau University awarded the first doctoral degrees in the university’s 135-year history on Saturday.
Those doctorates, presented at the second of two commencement exercises on the front lawn of the historic campus, were among more than 735 undergraduate and graduate diplomas Brenau awarded for 2014.
On Friday, May 2, Brenau Women’s College conferred 190 undergraduate degrees to members of the Brenau Women’s College Class of 2014. Saturday, May 3, the university celebrated graduation for degree recipients from its coeducational graduate and undergraduate programs – 138 degrees awarded to students enrolled in Brenau’s nationally acclaimed online programs and 407 for those from coeducational programs on Brenau campuses in Gainesville and other Georgia cities: Kings Bay, Fairburn, Norcross and Augusta.
“Education is the single best investment you will ever make in your life,” Brenau University President Ed Schrader told the graduates. “It will change your life – and not only yours, but the nation’s life.”
“You can buy a car for basically the same thing that you paid for your college education. The car depreciates [in value] in five years to nothing. Your college education is with you forever.”
Schrader, who begins his 10th year as president at Brenau, talked about the changes that the institution has encountered over more than a century of operations – not the least of which is the requirement that it bolsters liberal arts-based education with professional preparation.
“We as an institution have to prepare students to lead good, rich lives, but also financially and professionally rewarding lives,” he said.
To that end, the president opened a new chapter in Brenau history when he conferred its first earned doctorates – clinical and professional Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees.
The D.N.P. recipients are Maureen Vidrine from Monroe, Georgia; Angela Simmons-Butler from Clarkesville, Georgia; Shelia Campbell from Ellenwood, Georgia; Ann Marie Peck is from Gainesville; and LaChaka Coffee from Atlanta.
Schrader also recognized two recipients of graduate degrees from Brenau online programs who had never been on a Brenau campus prior to Saturday’s ceremony: Dr. Christopher Culp, inspector general for the U.S. Navy medical services in Washington D.C., and Dr. Kimberly Davis, director of surgical services at Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia. Capt. Culp and Commander Davis received Master of Business Administration degrees in health care administration.
“They don’t teach us business in medical school,” said Davis, who is an ophthalmologist. “I run a $60 million budget in my directorate. It would not be an ideal situation if I did not know something about business. I use something I learned in this program every day.”
Culp, an internist who previously served as deputy chief of the Navy Medical Corps, said he had heard about the Brenau program from a colleague in the Navy, “and it was a good fit.”
“It was a way to do an M.B.A. synchronously whenever we wanted to from wherever we were in the Navy,” he said.
Also, at the May 3 ceremony, Patrick Sweeney from Gainesville was the winner of the Outstanding Undergraduate in Business Administration award. Justine Oliver from Powder Springs, Georgia, won the Outstanding Graduate Student in Business Administration.
Schrader challenged the graduates not to be alarmed at change.
“Reinvention of self ensures survivability in a thriving 21st century,” he said. “Adapt and thrive; refuse to change and die.”
“You have to recognize, as humankind, the positive possibilities in front of you. If you don’t recognize the good that you can do, you are not likely to do it. Graduates, change is constant. It is the only element in life that we can count on.
“You can direct that change to the good of all people, and that’s what your institution wants you to do. I always say that, if there was one person in that graduating class who really changes the world, then anything that we have ever done is really worth it to get them out there. The truth is that there is more than one in this graduating class who is going to change the world.”
To learn more about Brenau University’s school of nursing visit http://www.brenau.edu/healthsciences/department-of-nursing/.