Ribbon cutting for Renaissance Park
Among other events to celebrate the Downtown Campus, Brenau University hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Renaissance Park on Sept. 17. From left to right: Mike Smith, chair of Brenau Board of Trustees; Sam Couvillon, mayor of Gainesville; Doug Ivester, Brenau trustee and former chair of Coca-Cola Corp.; and Brenau President Anne Skleder.

Events celebrate Brenau’s Downtown Campus

Sep 19, 2022
Edie Rogers

Brenau University celebrated its expanded Downtown Campus with three days of events Sept. 15-17 focused on science and the arts that evoked the spirit of Renaissance in honor of the university’s newest space.

“Part of Brenau’s strategic plan includes the creation of inspiring spaces for learning and living and the Downtown Center and the Gainesville Renaissance are indeed inspiring,” Brenau President Anne Skleder said. “As the Renaissance created great change in Europe centuries ago, Brenau’s Downtown Campus is transformative for our students and the community.”

Gainesville Renaissance, one of downtown’s newest buildings, was developed by Brenau Trustee Doug Ivester and completes the fourth side of the square. When finished, it will contain spaces dedicated to education, dining, retail and the arts in addition to living space on the third floor.

This spring, the Lynn J. Darby School of Psychology and Adolescent Counseling at Brenau moved into its home on the second floor of the Gainesville Renaissance. The move facilitates expansion of the school’s counseling clinic and academic programs, which includes plans to add a doctorate in fall 2023.

“The creation of a health science-centric Brenau Downtown Campus has a positive impact for both Brenau and the downtown area,” Board of Trustees Chair Mike Smith said. “The Brenau Downtown Campus is an important step in support of our strategic vision for expanding our efforts and programs, which will support our continuing efforts to recruit quality students and faculty members to these programs and attract additional charitable dollars.”

On Saturday, Sept. 17, Brenau hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Renaissance Park, part of the Gainesville Renaissance development. That evening, more than 200 gathered for a celebratory dinner to laud the expanded campus and thank Ivester and wife Kay for their support of Brenau and Gainesville-Hall County.

“A discussion of what would eventually lead to the creation of the Lynn J. Darby School of Psychology and Adolescent Counseling provided me with a greater understanding of Doug Ivester, his commitment, his passions, and his vision,” Skleder said. “It was Doug who suggested that we include adolescent counseling in the name and have that as a point of emphasis and a point of differentiation. When we first discussed this so many years ago, how could we have known how much greater that need would grow.”

She also thanked former Brenau presidents Jack Burd and Ed Schrader, city leaders and others.

“I am appreciative to all of those who have been part of this journey to establish Brenau’s Downtown Campus, and I’m excited about the change we’ll make moving forward together,” Skleder said.

Brenau held two public events in the Charles D. Walters Theatre on the Square at the Brenau Downtown Center to celebrate the downtown expansion.

Dr. Stephen Chew of Samford University had members of the audience alternately laughing and nodding on Sept. 15 with his discussion about how people learn and how this knowledge can promote academic success. Chew was the 2011 U.S. Professor of the Year for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Brenau also hosted a professional cast from Broadway and beyond on Sept. 16 for the Great American Songbook, a live, original musical revue celebrating 30 of the greatest songs of all time.