Celebrating our accomplishments and looking ahead to more

Aug. 26, 2021
Brenau Staff

As we begin the 143rd year in the history of Brenau with the return of residential students to campus this week, it is important to pause a moment and reflect back on all that we accomplished during the past year. The following is only a small sampling of the achievements of the entire Brenau community that happened during the 2020-21 academic year.

Physician assistant students working together.

Academic expansion of opportunities

  • The Physician Assistant Studies program in the Ivester College of Health Sciences officially launched with classes beginning January 2021.
  • The Entry Level Master of Science in Nursing program began in May 2021, giving nursing students another option to further their education in the field.
  • The Latin American and Caribbean Initiative launched through an agreement with Panama’s financial aid agency, resulting in an initial group of 16 students who will begin degree programs at Brenau after a year of learning English with ON Language.
  • The Brenau Downtown Campus continues to be developed as construction continues on the Gainesville Renaissance, which will be the new home of the Lynn J. Darby School of Psychology and Adolescent Counseling.
  • The Swinton A. Griffith III Deanship of the College of Business & Communication at Brenau University was established through a generous gift of the Melvin Douglas and Victoria Kay Ivester Foundation.

Softball team group photo

Faculty, staff and student achievements

  • The University of Georgia, located in Tbilisi, Georgia, granted Ken Frank, director of Brenau’s the Conflict Resolution & Legal Studies program, and Mary Lou Frank, adjunct instructor at Brenau, honorary doctorate degrees in recognition of their support of conflict resolution efforts and competitions across the world.
  • Brenau University Executive Vice President and CFO David Barnett was named to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) Board of Trustees in December 2020. SACSCOC is the accrediting body of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states.
  • President Anne Skleder joined the Women’s College Coalition board of directors and was named board treasurer of the Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education.
  • Every Golden Tigers athletic program achieved National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics All-Academic Team status, with each team having at least a collective GPA of 3.0.
  • The softball team made the NAIA tournament after winning the Appalachian Athletic Conference championship, while members from the track and field team competed in the NAIA championships.
  • During the 2020-21 academic year, 780 students graduated, including the first two students in the Doctorate in Education program and the first interior design graduates of Brenau’s partnership programs with Anhui Normal University in Wuhu, China.
  • Over 3,000 total students were enrolled in classes during the 2020-21 academic year.

A Brenau student administers a vaccine.

Community impact

  • Health Services, along with nursing and physician assistant students, helped to provide more than 10,000 COVID-19 vaccinations for the Gainesville-Hall County region.
  • Brenau launched a cooperative programming effort with local retirement community Lanier Village Estates to bring educational opportunities to their facility.
  • A cooperative initiative was established with Quinlan Visual Arts Center for student engagement and programming, including efforts specifically focused on Brenau’s Panamanian students.
  • Dr. Michael Stubblefield, who joined Brenau’s Board of Trustees in March, presented the virtual exhibition The Evolution of Scientific Bird Art on Oct. 26. Brenau’s Permanent Art Collection via the Arader Natural History Art Fund has been able to grow due to Stubblefield and his wife, Elyn, who provided funding for the purchase of numerous botanical prints.
  • The GOLD Speaker Series continued with Northeast Georgia Latino Chamber of Commerce President Norma Hernandez on Sept. 1 and former Georgia Supreme Court Justice Leah Ward Sears on Sept. 16. The series is an ongoing component of The Women’s College’s GOLD Program and features highly accomplished and trailblazing women.

Front of Pearce Auditorium.

Strengthening the university

  • The Brenau University Board of Trustees welcomed six new members, including four alumnae of The Women’s College. Maria Ebrahimji and Amelia “Mimi” Collins began their three-year terms in January, while Melissa Currin Heard, WC ’92, Melissa Cannady Howard, WC ’97, Dr. Michael Stubblefield and Mary Kathryn Wells-Winsett, WC ’00, began their terms in March.
  • The giving participation rate for the Board of Trustees, faculty and staff again achieved 100%.
  • Major facilities projects were undertaken all across our campuses, from the refurbishment of the Wheeler House — home of our admissions efforts — a refresh of Norcross location interiors, and exterior work on the Parklane apartments. In total, over $1 million was invested in these and other improvements.
  • The Working Group on Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Excellence completed their charge to develop strategies in those areas. Margie Gill, associate professor in the Lynn J. Darby School of Psychology and Adolescent Counseling and assistant clinic director at the Brenau Center for Counseling and Psychological Services in Gainesville and Norcross, was named the interim executive director for Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives to advance these efforts.
  • Faculty and staff have prepared for the SACSCOC accreditation report to be submitted later this fall in support of our decennial review in spring 2022.
  • The Strategic Planning process, which started in fall 2020, has continued in a collaborative and open fashion over the past year, with hundreds of faculty, staff, students, alumni and trustees participating in the effort. This updated vision will be shared in fall 2021 and integrated into our institutional planning efforts.
  • The university ended the fiscal year in a very strong position, with more than $60 million generated from tuition and fees (17% increase over last year), an endowment valued at over $61 million (25% increase over last five years), over $119 million in net assets (30% increase over last five years) and operational liquid assets of over $20 million (our largest amount ever).