Brenau University's 2025 strategic plan involves doubling enrollment and bringing in more graduate students.
With its accreditation reaffirmed Wednesday by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the university is well on its way to reaching those goals.
The reaffirmation bumped Brenau to a level five doctoral degree-granting institution, according to a news release from the university.
"We were approved by SACS to award our first doctorate," Brenau President Ed Schrader said. "Under (the level five designation) we can offer up to three doctoral degrees. After three, we have to go to a level six, which is a comprehensive doctoral program."
After initial approval last year, Brenau opened the first classes in its Doctor of Nursing Practice program this fall. Schrader said the program started with 13 enrolled.
"We offer a terminal degree in these health care professions, meaning it's the highest degree possible," he said. "You can be a nurse practitioner and work in a doctor's office with a master's degree, but for a nurse practitioner to receive his or her own license and be able to practice, they must have a doctoral degree. The program gives them a lot of flexibility."
The university plans to propose two additional doctoral programs, one in occupational therapy and one in an undecided field, during the next school year, according to the news release.
The accreditation board also named Schrader to a two-year term on its Board of Trustees.
Schrader said that board evaluates all petitions of reaffirmation - for schools previously accredited - and initial accreditation for community colleges, four-year colleges, universities and technical schools. He said trustees also evaluate any punitive actions the board must take if institutions don't meet accreditation requirements.
The trustee selection begins with states nominating as many people as they want. Those nominees are narrowed to two, who are then presented to the board. The board then selects one to bring before the Commission on Colleges, Schrader said.
"It was nice," he said. "It's quite an honor for Brenau, honestly, to have a trustee on the board because we're sitting there with Duke and Furman and these other state universities."