Faculty & Staff

PA Studies faculty in construction area wearing hard hats
Left to right: Julie Keena, Gale Starich, Drew Roush, Pete Keys, Kyrus Patch, Hollie Eldridge

Chair and Founding Program Director, Professor

Julie B. Keena, DHSc, PA-C

tel: 678-971-1848

  • Graduated from Agnes Scott College in 1985
  • Earned PA certificate and MMSc in critical care medicine from Emory University in 1987
  • Completed post-graduate residency in neurosurgery at University of Miami/JMH in 1989
  • Clinical PA in neurosurgery and neurology at UM/JMH 1988-1997
  • Joined academia at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in February 1997
    • Held many positions over 18 year period; led successful NSU PA program start up for NSU PA Program Fort Myers in 2004
    • Over 11 years of experience as department chair and/or program director
  • Earned DHSc degree from AT Still University in 2013
  • Assistant director at the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) from 2015-2019
    • ARC-PA site visitor since 2002
  • Teaching philosophy based on Chinese Proverb: “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I may understand.”

Assistant Program Director/Associate Professor

Kyrus Patch, DHSc, PA-C

  • Graduated from Alderson-Broaddus College with BS in medical science (PA degree), 1977
  • Earned MSc degree from Alderson-Broaddus College in 2007
  • Earned DHSc from AT Still University in 2015
  • Extensive clinical PA career:
    • Rural Ohio outpatient facility and even made house calls
    • Snowshoe Ski Resort in WV as senior medical officer
    • Cardiology Department in WV during “off-season”
    • Walt Disney World house call medical officer
    • Urgent care/family practice setting in Naples and Ft. Myers Beach
  • Began academic career in 2007, holding many positions over 12 year period; last 4 years were as program director at Nova Southeastern University
  • Dr. Patch aspires to teach a new generation of Physician Assistants to be knowledgeable, compassionate, professional and accomplished individuals she likes to call “Renaissance PAs.”

Medical Director/Associate Professor

J. Allen Butts, Jr, MD, FACS

  • Graduated from Emory University with BA in chemistry/philosophy, 1984
  • Earned MD from Emory University in 1988
  • Completed surgical residency at University of Tennessee School of Medicine, Memphis TN 1988-1993
  • Board certified in general surgery by the American Board of Surgery
  • Served as a preceptor for PA students in general surgery from 1994-2016
  • Past-president of Longstreet Clinic, Gainesville, GA
  • Past chief of surgery at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Gainesville, GA
  • Currently participates in GME training of surgical residents at Northeast Georgia Health System in the simulation lab
  • Extensive career as board certified general surgeon in Gainesville, GA from 1993-2016
  • Served as a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Naval Reserves
  • Teaching philosophy based on Albert Einstein quote:If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Admissions Coordinator/Assistant Professor

Drew Roush, MPAS, PA-C

  • Graduated from University of Dayton with BS in Business Management in 1988
  • Graduated from Wake Forest University School of Medicine Graduate Certificate PA Program in 2000
  • Graduated from University of Texas with a Master of PA Studies in 2015
  • Taught pre-med, pre-PA and nursing at Brenau University since 2008
    • Pre-Professional Coordinator / Mentor
  • Assisted with development of Brenau University Physician Assistant Program proposal
    • Admissions Coordinator/Assistant Professor, March 2019
  • Clinical Experience: 20 years Interventional Radiology Physician Assistant at Northeast Georgia Medical Center
    • Specialized in Image-Guided Procedures
    • Founder of Society of Physician Assistants in Radiology
  • Teaching Philosophy based on quote from Ronald Reagan: “I learned that hard work is an essential part of life—that by and large, you don’t get something for nothing—and that America was a place that offered unlimited opportunity to those who did work

Director of Didactic Education/Assistant Professor

Neena Xavier, MD

  • Graduated from Vanderbilt Medical School in 2009
  • Double board certified in internal medicine and endocrinology, lipids and metabolism
  • After three years in private practice, joined the PA program at University of Alabama at Birmingham where she served as the clinical medicine and clinical simulation course director
  • Teaching philosophy centers on experiential learning
    • Developed active learning opportunities including service learning, case-based learning and interprofessional simulation
  • Implemented service learning opportunity providing free wellness screening for the male homeless population in Birmingham
    • Awarded national 2018 American Association of Clinical Endocrinology Outstanding Service Award for the Promotion of Endocrine Health in an Underserved Population for this work
  • Chosen as a 2019 Harvard Macy Medical Educator Fellow to study outcomes in service learning in PA education
  • Received a nationally competitive research grant from the Engaged Scholarship Consortium

Director of Clinical Education/Associate Professor

Heather Brown, DMSc, PA-C

  • Graduated from Western Maryland College in 1995 with a BS in Clinical Psychology
  • Earned PA certificate and MS in Health Sciences from The George Washington University in 2000
  • Earned DMSc from University of Lynchburg in 2019
  • Clinically practicing PA in Emergency Medicine/Urgent Care for over 20 years
    • 2000-2011 with the University of Maryland Medical System
    • 2011-2014 with Tenet Healthcare
    • since 2014 with Northside Hospital System
  • Assistant Professor/Adjunct Assistant Professor with Mercer University Department of Physician Assistant Studies from 2011-2020
  • Teaching philosophy based on inspiring students to embody the principle of lifelong learning and is best summed up in a quote from the Irish poet W.B. Yeats: “Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.”

Principal Faculty

Jerry Erickson, Jr., DMSc, PA-C

  • B.S. in Biology – University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 1997
  • PA Certificate & MMSc – Emory University, 2003
  • Clinically practicing PA in Family Medicine/ Urgent Care
  • FQHC/CHC in North Georgia
  • Joined academia full time in 2012
  • Mercer University 2012 – 2015, Associate Clinical Coordinator, Assistant Professor
  • Lenoir Rhyne University 2015 – 2019, Director of Didactic Education, Assistant Professor
  • Butler University DMS program 2019 – 2020, Adjunct Professor
  • DMSc degree – University of Lynchburg, 2019
  • Joined Brenau University August 2020

Associate Professor of Anatomy and Genetics

Gregory P. Marshall II, PhD

  • B.S. in Biology – St Andrews Presbyterian College, 1998
  • Ph.D. in Genetics – University of Florida College of Medicine, 2005
  • Postdoctoral Research – University of Florida, Departments of Anatomy and Physiology and Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, 2005 – 2012
  • Research Assistant Scientist – University of Florida, Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, 2012
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anatomy and Physiology – Santa Fe College, Sciences for Health Programs, 2013
  • Senior Scientist and NIH-funded Principal Investigator – OneVax, LLC, 2013 – 2020
  • Joined Brenau University in 2020 as Associate Professor of Anatomy and Genetics
  • “Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.” – Edward Everett

Office Manager

Hollie Eldridge

  • Joined Brenau University’s Department of Physician Assistant Studies in September 2019
  • Currently pursuing a business degree with Brenau University
  • Contributes over 12 years of administrative experience in office management; led her previous company to success
  • Self-starter, ready to take the lead on projects and see them through to completion
  • Always relishes the challenge of learning new software or applications and as technology changes, she is one of the first to adopt and embrace new skills
  • Committed to making sure our students’ experience in our program is the best it can be

Academic Support Coordinator

Rachelle Mathis, MS

  • Joined Brenau University’s Department of Physician Assistant Studies in September 2020
  • B.S. Psychology/Criminal Justice from Drury University, May 2015
  • M.S. Administrative Studies/Sports Management from Missouri State University, May 2018
  • Brings over 10 years of experience in healthcare administration and event management
  • Committed to making sure our students’ experience in our program is the best it can be
  • Enneagram Type 2- The Helper, always willing to do anything possible to help students, faculty and staff.

Clinical Support Coordinator

Pete Keys

  • 2008 business graduate of Brenau
  • Returned to serve as staff in Brenau’s Department of Physician Assistant Studies in October 2019
  • Retired from the military after 21 years
  • Brings over 18 years of health care experience with Northeast Georgia Health System and Southeast Health
  • Active volunteer in Georgia Society of Healthcare Materials Management and the Association for Healthcare Resource Materials Management
  • Active community volunteer serving at North Georgia Works
  • Certified Materials Resource Professional
  • Currently completing his Fellowship in AHRMM
  • Served as purchasing manager for Southeast Health