Brenau University, located in Gainesville, is a private, comprehensive liberal arts university.
Brenau was founded in 1878 as a private institution for the education of women. Though never directly supported by or affiliated with the Baptist Church, Brenau was originally named the Georgia Baptist Female Seminary. W. C. Wilkes, the institution's first administrator, is credited with building many of the historic buildings that still stand today.
In 1900 H. J. Pearce purchased the institution and renamed it Brenau, a linguistic blend formed from the German word brennen, "to burn," and the Latin aurum, "gold." Its motto is "As Gold Refined by Fire."
The academy was formed in 1928 when Pearce told his wife that some of the first-year college students were having trouble with their course work. She began a program to help prepare young women for college, and the program evolved quickly into the Brenau Academy. The academy, the only all-female boarding school in Georgia, admits young women in grades nine through twelve to its college preparatory programs.
In the late 1960s Brenau began offering evening classes to male students at the junior and senior levels. As the number of evening students grew from 17 in 1969 to 1,466 in fall 2003, the structure of the program evolved. The Evening and Weekend College, as it is known today, offers undergraduate and graduate degrees at five sites throughout Georgia and was the first of its kind in the state.
Brenau College became Brenau University in 1992 by a vote of the Board of Trustees, a name change that reflects the comprehensive programs of study, the diverse student body, and the graduate programs. In 2002 Brenau's Online College was formed using Internet technology to reach students who are unable, because of professional or personal responsibilities, to attend classes on campus. Several baccalaureate, master's, and certification programs as well as individual classes are available in this format.
Enrollment and Unique Characteristics
Total enrollment for the 2002-3 academic year was 2,400 students: 620 in the Women's College,
The Evening and Weekend College serves returning adult students, both men and women, who attend classes after work and on weekends. Convenience and flexibility are the hallmarks of the program. Bachelor's and master's degrees in education, business administration, nursing, interior design, and accounting are among the degrees offered. For the Online College there is no residence requirement, and students can complete courses on their own schedule. Extensive faculty training in Internet technology ensures student success.
In 2002 Brenau celebrated the opening of the John S. Burd Center for the Performing Arts, named by the trustees for Brenau's president. This new, $11.5 million building boasts 51,000 square feet of theater, classroom, and gallery space. The Burd Center provides a much-needed performing venue for students and community groups.
From its founding to the present day, Brenau University has been an integral part of the Gainesville and north Georgia community.
Ann Mahefkey, Brenau University
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.