David L. Barnett Tapped for University’s Second-highest Administrative Role

Brenau University named David L. Barnett senior vice president and chief financial officer, its second highest post, effective Jan. 1.

Reporting directly to Brenau President Ed Schrader, the Watkinsville, Ga., resident and Smyrna, Ga., native assumes duties of Wayne Dempsey, who retired in 2012.

“Those Dempsey shoes are big ones to fill,” said Schrader, who brought Dempsey, the now-retired executive vice president and chief financial officer, to Brenau with him from Shorter University in 2005. “But David Barnett is an accomplished administrator and academic leader who has spearheaded some of the university’s greatest growth and accomplishments of the last decade. He has full confidence of the faculty and staff, the board of trustees and the president.”

 David Barnett portrait by Billy HowardBarnett earned a Ph.D. in educational leadership and organizational development from the University of Louisville. He came to Brenau in the same year as Schrader and Dempsey after a wide variety of higher education administrative roles. He served as associate dean of student life at Spalding University in Louisville, Ky., following other terms in that city as coordinator of clinical services at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and associate vice president for student services at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also earned a master of divinity degree in Christian education.

He worked previously at Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga., as an associate vice president, dean of instruction for regional campuses, and assistant professor of education, and at Union College in Barbourville, Ky., as assistant director for student support services.

Barnett graduated from Mercer University in 1979 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in religious studies. He also holds an education specialist graduate degree from University of Louisville.

Barnett’s wife, Kimberly, a Newnan, Ga., native, is a 7th grade language arts teacher in Gwinnett County. She also is a “nontraditional Brenau student,” completing graduate studies in secondary education. 

David Barnett’s first job at Brenau was director of the university’s North Atlanta campus in Norcross, and his work at Brenau has coincided with the wave of growth for nonresidential programs and nontraditional students. The university strategic plan projects that the historic undergraduate Women’s College at the university will increase enrollments to about 1,000 students by 2025 while the more nontraditional student body of graduate and undergraduate students will push in that time frame total Brenau enrollments – now at about 2,800 – to 5,000 students.

As a result of his work in Atlanta, the university promoted Barnett to an associate vice president post to oversee, academically and administratively, all nonresidential programs in Gainesville, Norcross, Augusta, Fairburn and Kings Bay. He also had responsibility for online studies, which serve students around the world. He also helped drive the development of the Quality Enhancement Program, which was part of Brenau’s highly successful performance in the decennial accreditation review by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

He also filled in for more than a year as dean of the College of Education as that division of the university successfully completed its accreditation review by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Under Barnett’s deanship, the College of Education online graduate programs also won national accolades as a Top 10 “Honor Roll” institution in a U.S. News & World Report survey.

In his new job, Barnett immediately will oversee the $6.5 million expansion in Gainesville that involves converting the former Georgia Mountains Center into Brenau Downtown Center, the home of graduate studies in physical therapy and other health care professional programs, as well as other big-ticket contracts for expanding all Brenau academic programs.

“The Brenau strategy and vision provides some unique opportunities and exciting challenges,” said Barnett. “I am not at all worried about finding things to do to fill up my day.”

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