Accrediting Board Approves Brenau Branch in Jacksonville
The governing body of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has approved Brenau University’s application to begin immediately offering undergraduate and graduate degrees at a new location in Jacksonville, Florida.
Following the Florida Department of Education’s issuing a license for the private, not-for-profit institution to operate in the state, the accrediting board approval means that Brenau may start advertising for, recruiting and enrolling students, said Brenau University President Ed L. Schrader.
The higher education accrediting organization’s Board of Trustees on April 28 officially granted permission for Brenau to operate an “instructional site” in Jacksonville. The Gainesville, Georgia-based university in late 2014 completed its application to start initially offering both undergraduate- and graduate-level business degrees – including its highly regarded Master of Business Administration – and a two-year Associate of Arts degree on the new campus.
“Technically, we could begin teaching graduate and undergraduate students on the Jacksonville campus today if we had enough people ready to start,” Schrader said, explaining the importance of the accrediting board’s action. “We have to install a sign on the building, but we already have staff in place and classrooms available and operational.”
David L. Barnett, chief financial officer and senior vice president over all administrative operations of the university, said that Brenau’s educational format allows for continuous enrollments throughout the year and enables the university to offer programs at the convenience of the students. Adding to the convenience, he said, Brenau will offer all its Jacksonville programs both in on-campus classrooms and online.
Brenau several months ago completed the $210,000 4,380-square-foot build-out for leased space on the top floor of a former Bank of America four-story office building at 6622 Southpoint Drive on the south side of Jacksonville. The location is near the J.T. Butler Boulevard and I-95 interchange.
Donny Moore, who has overseen Brenau’s operations in Augusta, Georgia, since 2002, already is in place as the administrator for the Jacksonville site.
Brenau began in 1878 on its Gainesville historic campus about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta as a women’s college. Although the residential undergraduate Women’s College still thrives with about a third of Brenau’s 3,000-student population, the university launched co-educational studies in Gainesville and other locations in the 1970s. Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Patricia Wolfe of Jacksonville, a recent appointee to the university’s Board of Trustees, earned an M.B.A. degree from a program that Brenau ran at the Navy’s Supply Corps School, which operated on the campus of the University of Georgia in Athens from 1954 until it moved to Providence, Rhode Island, in 2010.
Although Brenau has long-standing operations outside of Gainesville in Augusta, Fairburn, Norcross and just a few miles north of Jacksonville at the U.S. Navy Kings Bay submarine base near St. Marys, Georgia, Jacksonville will be the first out-of-state campus for Brenau since the Women’s College in the early 20th century briefly operated a branch in Eufaula, Alabama.
Schrader said that the heavy population of military personnel, veterans and their families in the Jacksonville area was a major factor in the university’s decision to locate there. Last year U.S. News & World Report ranked Brenau the 12th most veteran-friendly institution among comprehensive universities in the Southeast.
The Jacksonville site will not have an impact on the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, which is only 47 miles away. Although Brenau at Kings Bay continues to meet needs of students in and out of the military, its location on the base restricts growth potential for the university.