Brenau Dedicates Mary Inez Grindle School of Nursing Following Ivester Foundation Grant
Brenau University’s School of Nursing was dedicated Tuesday, Nov. 15, for long-time New Holland/Gainesville community resident Mary Inez Grindle.
The dedication of the Mary Inez Grindle School of Nursing was made possible through a gift of the Melvin Douglas and Victoria Kay Ivester Foundation, funded by Grindle’s daughter and son-in-law. Additionally, the naming coincides with the university’s announcement that a long-standing, family-funded Kay and Douglas Ivester Endowed Scholarship at Brenau henceforward will benefit top students who plan to pursue careers in health science professions, including nursing.
Brenau President Ed Schrader said the gift and naming sustain a legacy of strong female leadership in connection with the school’s history, from Ocie Pope, the first director of the Hall School of Nursing – founded in 1959 and acquired by Brenau in 1962 – to Anne Warren Thomas, the Gainesville benefactor who helped sustain and grow the nursing program in tough economic times.
“It is altogether fitting that the third important name and person involved in the continuing expansion of health care services for Brenau is another woman,” he said. “We appreciate the opportunity to have the name of Mary Inez Grindle on our nursing school that will be with us forever.”
Born in New Holland in 1926, Grindle died after a sudden illness on March 27, 2014. She and her husband Ernest Grindle, who was also born and raised in New Holland, owned and operated the Gainesville Vending Company for many years. Like Kay and Doug Ivester, Ernest and Inez were childhood sweethearts from the time that they were pupils in New Holland Elementary School. Mr. Grindle was almost 74 when he died in May 1998.
Doug Ivester, former Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company and a long-serving member of the Brenau University Board of Trustees, said his mother-in-law was a special, fascinating woman who took great joy from life and found great pleasure in sharing her joy with others. He described her selflessness in always caring for others, whether it was one brother’s battle with cancer, another brother’s disability resulting from a car accident, or her husband’s final battle with multiple sclerosis.
“Her chosen role was to be a caregiver,” he said. “Her chosen role was to be a nurse, if you will. I can think of no greater honor for Inez than for this nursing school to bear her name.”
While the Grindles believed in community stability, they weren’t wedded to always keeping things the same, says Ivester. When the Grindles were children living in New Holland, textiles were the biggest industry in the region and the New Holland mill the largest of its kind in the state. Today, those driving between Brenau and New Holland pass through the Northeast Georgia Health System and Medical Center complex, representative of what is today the area’s fastest-growing industry: health care.
That is precisely why the Ivester Foundation chose to allocate resources into developing Brenau’s School of Nursing, said Foundation President Lynn Darby. “A part of the Foundation’s mission is to prepare skilled health care professionals to meet the needs of the community for generations to come and this grant helps fulfill that mission,” Darby said.
“This is a night that will change our School of Nursing in perpetuity,” said Matt Thomas, Brenau vice president for external relations, who worked extensively with Darby and the foundation on the conception of the naming. “It is always great to have such a wonderful group of people together to celebrate those changes.”
Schrader also shared a commendation from Gov. Nathan Deal, which recognized the dedication of the Mary Inez Grindle School of Nursing and stated the school will produce hundreds of highly skilled health care professionals who will aid future generations throughout Georgia with the highest quality service.
Brenau Nursing Director Dina Hewett characterized the reallocation of the Ivester scholarship to health sciences and the new endowment as “outstanding news.”
“The School of Nursing has a critical need for scholarships at every level – from undergraduate to doctoral,” she said. “Many of our students, for example, are career changers with degrees in other fields and there simply is not the same kind of aid available for them as for new undergraduates. For master’s degree and doctoral candidates, financial aid is essentially off the table because very little exists for them.”
Kay Ivester said she is happy with the decision of the Ivester Foundation to support Brenau’s health science programs and that she was delighted to see her mother honored by naming the Mary Inez Grindle School of Nursing in her memory. The Ivester Foundation declined to disclose the amount of the gift, but Brenau President Ed Schrader described it as “substantial.” Annual earnings from the gift will be used at the discretion of the university for health sciences programs, which includes scholarships for deserving students.
The Melvin Douglas and Victoria Kay Ivester Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation established to support nonprofit institutions and charitable causes in Hall County, Georgia. The Ivesters have long supported Brenau significantly with, among other things, establishing the scholarship endowment in 1994 to benefit first-generation college students based on academic performance, leadership, character and personal motivation. Since that time, the university has awarded close to 60 scholarships from the fund. The dedication of this fund for health sciences scholarships at all levels is a significant enhancement of Brenau’s programs.
The Mary Inez Grindle School of Nursing currently serves about 300 students enrolled in undergraduate, master’s degree and doctoral programs on campuses in Gainesville and Norcross, Georgia, and online. Over the years, more than 1,500 living Brenau graduates have been licensed as nurses in Georgia and hundreds more in other states. The nursing program is fully accredited by the Washington, D.C.-based Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and has full approval through 2020 from the Georgia Board of Nursing.
The naming of the nursing school is the second high-visibility Brenau project bearing the Grindle name that is coming to fruition this year. The Ivester Foundation provided funding in 2014 to complete development of the first phases of the university’s Ernest Ledford Grindle Athletics Park in New Holland, named for Kay Ivester’s father. After completion this year, the park will officially open in February when the Brenau Golden Tigers softball team commences intercollegiate play there.
“Kay Ivester’s parents were salt-of-the-earth folks who were indispensable to their community throughout their lives,” Schrader said. “We see many things named for people whose legacies were economic and business prosperity. It is gratifying to commemorate those who left indelible impressions on the hearts and souls of those who interacted with them.”