New academic year begins with ‘energy and enthusiasm’

Students walking
(AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Brenau University welcomed students on Monday, Aug. 29, for the start of the traditional fall semester, and has exceeded its goals for new students and the retention of returning students.

“Brenau is filled with energy and enthusiasm as we return to a robust university experience,” President Anne Skleder said. “While it’s only the first week of the semester, I’m very encouraged that the trends for fall semester are very good, with overall institutional retention of returning students nearing 90%. We already have exceeded our goal for new students, with more than 250 registered for classes and others expected to register throughout the week.”

Students gathered around a table on the patio of the Tea Room
(AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

The traditional fall semester began with a wonderful opportunity for students in the Lynn J. Darby School of Psychology and Adolescent Counseling. For the first time since the school moved to its new home in the spring, psychology classes are located at the Gainesville Renaissance on Brenau’s Downtown Campus.

Sheiny Gutierrez is part of Brenau’s new direct-entry nursing program that welcomed the first cohort this fall.

“I’m a first-generation student, and so taking advantage of this opportunity is really big for me,” Gutierrez said. “Brenau really helped me a lot and I’m grateful for the chance to meet new people and make connections.”

While moving into her residence hall room on Thursday with the help of her mom, she shared her excitement about diving into her nursing studies and settling into life at Brenau. 

“Nursing can lead to many different pathways, and I like not knowing where it’s going to take me,” she said. “It’s a new environment, and I don’t know anybody. I’m grateful that I get to meet new people and make more connections.”

New students learned about Brenau traditions the week before classes started, and Dean of the Women’s College Debra Dobkins shared the Brenau Ideal and this year’s GOLD program objective with incoming Women’s College students at an event on Saturday, Aug. 27.

Students gathered around a table in the Tea Room
(AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

“This year, our university theme is focused on diversity, belonging and global perspective, which are central to the ‘D Year’ of the Women’s College GOLD program,” Dobkins said. “As we celebrate our differences and stand together united, we hold the tenets of the Brenau Ideal close.”

While classes for the traditional semester are underway, some courses will start in October. Brenau professors are prepared to teach new and returning students on campus and online.

“We are all excited to welcome students to the classroom,” history professor Gnimbin Ouattara said. “The classroom is where we all learn together in an extraordinary learning community.”

Dance Department Chair Madia Cooper-Ashirifi said she wants to see new students express themselves.

“The Dance Department is excited to welcome new students to our theaters and studios, where they can create, perform and harness their creativity,” she said.

Math and Science Department Chair Jessi Shrout said she looks forward to students exploring.

“We are so excited to welcome new and returning students to the lab, where together we can make discoveries and challenge expectations.”

Nearly 350 students, including some 150 new students, moved in on the historic Gainesville campus throughout August and returning students are still checking into their residence halls this week.

Kelsey Podo, Brenau University manager of content development, contributed to this report.