With four generations of Clevelands seated in the Brenau Downtown Center in Gainesville, Brenau President Ed Schrader thanked the family for its continued support Friday in funding the physical therapy school.
Schrader presented Mary Cleveland with the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award, the highest non-academic honor that served as a “recognition of a culmination of a life of good work, of civilized and caring service.”
The university reached a $300,000 gift agreement with John Cleveland in deciding to name the physical therapy wing’s lobby in honor of his parents Mary Cleveland and the late Ralph Cleveland.
“Your gift actually put us over the top in being able to equip our labs,” Schrader said.
Brenau’s physical therapy program admitted 40 students out of some 800 applicants into the program.
Mary Cleveland, who celebrated her 101st birthday more than two weeks ago, was surrounded by her children, grandchildren and 2-year-old great-grandchild Coco at Friday’s ceremony.
“I think this is going to be a major step, because this will bring in a permanent population of sophisticated but young people that I think will support many, many businesses, and it’s going to make it a much more vibrant place,” John Cleveland said.
Brenau’s fundraising campaign co-chairman Lorry Schrage praised the Clevelands for their dedication to Gainesville and the university.
“Ralph was a very astute business man, and what he did in this community not only allowed him to make donations like this one over the years, but it had a great effect on what happened in Gainesville,” Schrage said.
Cleveland’s milling business created a cheaper process and a better product for the poultry industry, Schrage said.
“Without that, the chicken industry probably wouldn’t be what it is today,” he said.