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Posted: Tuesday, April 1st 2014 at 4:28pm

Brenau to spend $62.5 million on dormitories, lab and athletics complex

By Marc Eggers Staff
EMAIL STORY CONTACT EDITOR PRINT
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A rendering of the new residence hall, courtesy of Brenau University
GAINESVILLE - Brenau University’s Board of Trustees has approved a record $62.5 million spending plan that provides for $8 million in new construction for undergraduate residence houses, a human anatomy laboratory and a field house at a new athletics park.

The board’s action preceded the announcement here March 29 during the Brenau 135th anniversary celebration Gala that the university has completed an $18.2 million first “silent” phase of a long-term capital campaign and now has launched the $18.5 million second “public” phase that in part addresses the new spending that the trustees approved.

Brenau President Ed Schrader said the university exceeded its fund-raising goals for Phase I of the campaign by more than $500,000.

That action means the university will continue to raise funds through donations to pay for improvements. In the meantime, it will finance the project through bonds so construction can begin immediately.

“That is a big step to this organization,” Brenau Trustees Chairman Pete Miller told his colleagues during the board meeting at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta March 28. “Can we manage that? Yes, we can.”

The centerpiece of the first phase included the redevelopment of the city of Gainesville-owned entertainment and meeting venue into the Brenau University Downtown Center, the home of a new doctor of physical therapy program as well as The Manhattan Gallery of modern art. That first phase also included improvements in the university’s endowment and improvements to its well-respected nursing program’s faculty and facilities.

Schrader announced Saturday that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has approved Brenau’s offering of a doctorate in physical therapy. That leaves only approval by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education before Brenau can begin recruiting and enrolling candidates for the program.

Phase II, the public and open portion of the campaign, heavily emphasizes expanding endowments for top-quality faculty, student research and student scholarships. It focuses in part on women’s education to provide funding for sorority houses and a residence hall at the 135-year-old undergraduate Brenau Women’s College in Gainesville, athletic facilities for the women’s championship-class intercollegiate sports programs, women’s leadership programs across all education platforms in the university and annual and endowed scholarship programs specifically for women.

The second phase also includes some continuing improvements to the university’s coeducational graduate and undergraduate programs in allied health care professional preparation. That involves additional enhancements to rehabilitative science programs like physical therapy and occupational therapy; development of clinical experiences and a community physical therapy clinic in the Downtown Center; educational technology enhancements and simulators; and the 10-station human anatomy lab for all science students to replace the two-station lab that now exists.

Phase II is already underway. Schrader also announced at the Gala that the university has reached its target for the first stage of the development of facilities for intercollegiate athletics complex in the New Holland community near the Gainesville campus with a gift from Doug and Kay Ivester, both of whom grew up in the community. The complex, to be built on property donated by Pacolet-Milliken, Inc. on the former site of the school where the Ivesters met in third grade and the field for the textile mill’s baseball team, will be named “Ernest Ledford Grindle Athletics Park” – in honor of Kay’s late father.

Initial development on the site includes a softball field, parking, bleachers and other improvements. The Brenau trustee action on March 28 added construction of the field house to that first stage. Additional facilities at the park will be built as additional funds are raised in the campaign.

Brenau currently has about 3,000 students, including about 900 in the undergraduate Women’s College.

In addition to approving the $8 million in bonds for the new construction, which will start right away, the board’s action included approval of a $54.52 million budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 – the first time Brenau’s budget has exceeded $50 million.

That includes $45.2 million for institutional operations and a record $9.33 million for institutional aid for Brenau students. The 16.2 percent increase in university spending last year also is more than twice the Brenau budget for operations and financial aid 10 years ago when Schrader first became president of Brenau.

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