From health sciences education to new sports teams to expansion of facilities, the last year at Brenau University has seen many changes — and the next year promises even more.
Brenau has focused its academic expansion on health education.
For example, the university is looking to get accredited for an independent physicians’ assistant undergraduate program that requires a year of specialty training after graduation that would be operated in collaboration with the Northeast Georgia Health System.
The university’s sports programs are growing, as well, with the addition in the last year of a women’s lacrosse team.
In the next 12 months, President Ed Schrader said he expects to see a startup team in video gaming come alive while also potentially adding a competitive skeet shooting program.
“We’ve had students come to us already and say that they’re interested in that,” Schrader said.
Schrader said Brenau will have to manage the pending closure of the downtown Gainesville parking deck this summer to allow for two additional levels. The deck connects to the Brenau Downtown Center where events and classes are held.
“We’ve got to find places for them to park,” he added.
But the upside, Schrader said, is that new development on and around the square will give an economic shot in the arm that can benefit Brenau by making Gainesville a more attractive destination for students and faculty.
“I really do believe public-private partnerships have worked,” he added. “I really appreciate the care the city has shown in its planning.”
Schrader also believes that street-scaping improvements around downtown, such as new pedestrian crosswalks along E.E. Butler Parkway, will help integrate the campus with the square.
Schrader said he wants to create roundabouts at four corners of the campus as a way to amplify the boundaries and highlight the historic university district.
“That’s what I really envision in the near future,” he added.
Schrader said these road improvements would also include enlarging access roads off Academy Street, while improving safety for students walking through campus.
Brenau also has big plans to expand its facilities as enrollment and academic programs grow.
For example, with the U.S. Postal Service planning a move from its Green Street location in Gainesville, Brenau University officials publicly declared their interest in the property.
“We have long coveted that space,” Schrader said during a public hearing on the proposed post office relocation in February. “We would love to move students into that facility, primarily for our teacher education program, which is growing right now.”
Rather than building new, Schrader said it would be ideal to repurpose existing buildings, such as the post office, “if at all structurally possible.”
Finally, Schrader said the university has a strong interest in enhancing its performing arts program and intends to find ways to make its 6,500-strong fine art collection more accessible to the public through its partnership with the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.
Schrader said he wants to make the Brenau Downtown Center a space to exhibit the collection.
“We need to bring the art to Gainesville,” he added.