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Why Brenau’s campus is busy this summer
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Brenau University's Devon Thomas wraps a leg Wednesday, May 30, 2018, during summer physical therapy classes inside the Brenau Downtown Center in Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers

The late spring and summer months are typically quieter on university and college campuses as students return home for break, work a seasonal job or travel.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other things happening on campus unique to this time of year.

At Brenau University, for example, students in graduate health science programs, like the doctor of physical therapy program, actually start their semester in May, according to Brenau spokeswoman Kristen Bowman.

There were 1,555 students enrolled in summer courses — compared with an annual enrollment of about 3,500 — across the university’s five campuses as of May 24. About half of those are taking associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree courses online.

The Gainesville campus has 115 undergraduates on site this summer and 67 post-graduate students.

The university fills out in other ways, too, during the summer, which can present some scheduling challenges.

“Because the Gainesville campus is a little sleepier in the summer, we have some programs to keep the facilities from being idle,” Bowman said.

For example, rowing teams practicing at the Lake Lanier Olympic Park recently stayed in the dorms on the Gainesville campus.

“I joke that I become a hotel manager,” Danielle Miller, event services director, said.

Having residential availability, though limited in some respects, allows the Gainesville campus to host many North Georgia groups and organizations for various events.

“It’s a nice opportunity for summer camps and programs to take place on the historic campus (in Gainesville),” Miller said, adding that it provides a convenient location with residences, a dining hall and walking distance to the downtown square for socializing and nightlife.

This year, for instance, Brenau will host a gospel music camp for the first time.

“We’re really excited about it,” Miller said. “It brings people to campus and allows us to show off our facilities.”

But many other groups will be returning once more for a summer residency.

“We definitely have a ‘home-feel’ on our campus and I think that’s what brings groups back,” Miller said.

The summer is also busy for Jordan Anderson, director of international students and programs, particularly due to Brenau’s partnership with Anhui Normal University in China.

“International students who are returning home, transferring universities or applying for work authorizations all require assistance in order to ensure that they are maintaining status and following federal regulations,” Anderson said. “Those processes can happen up to 60 days after the end of the semester, so I am still working with students who have finished classes or even graduated into July.”  

Anderson said she also travels to China each May to meet with students there who plan to attend Brenau. It gives her an opportunity to ease any concerns they may have and begin establishing relationships.

“Since I'm a one-person office it can be tricky to be gone for a week or more right when the semester ends, but it's important to us that we do as much as we can to help prepare our new students,” she added. “Immigration policies have certainly been changing a lot over the past couple of years, which means there are more things to take into consideration when advising students.”

Preparing paperwork and managing the logistics of having international students arrive for the fall semester means now’s the time to get cracking.

Bowman also said the summer marks a busy time for the university’s grants writer, as state and federal fiscal years begin in July and October, respectively.

“It's kind of a side of the staff and administration folks might not really think about,” Bowman said.

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