Why Must Brenau Raise $40 Million Now?

Brenau University President Ed L. Schrader
Brenau University President Ed L. Schrader, Ph.D. answers a question during a panel discussion at the GET REAL Conference at The Times Center in Manhattan, New York, Friday, September 26, 2014. (Photo by Barry Williams)

SHORTLY BEFORE my March presentation on financial management to a group of new college and university presidents in Washington, D. C., at the American Council on Education annual meeting, a detailed article appeared in the Washington Post newspaper about the collapse of Sweet Briar, the 109-year-old Virginia women’s college.

The seemingly “ripped-from-the-headlines” nature of my talk commanded more than passing attention from that small group of colleagues. Many things that the Post and other reports suggested Sweet Briar should have done, Brenau has been doing for a long time.

When I began planning my presentation outlining the cost accounting methods Brenau has used for a decade, however, I really focused on how we are reacting to some earlier headlines – those from 2014 reminding us that in today’s world the source of a pandemic is always merely a plane ride away. The deadly Ebola virus reached our shores and threatened the population because health care professionals were not paying attention to what was happening in the world around them and failed to relate those events to their jobs.

Significantly, Brenau’s financial operations, its mission, its long-term vision and the ongoing $40 million ForeverGold campaign that you will see detailed in the pages of this magazine address both the Ebola and Sweet Briar crises. We must dramatically shake up how we train health care professionals in this country. Simultaneously, we must sustain the viability of our legacy, the 137-year-old Women’s College.

Brenau has been stepping up to the challenge, developing programs to get more and more health care professional graduates into the field as quickly as possible with the technical skills required to address critical shortages of all service providers. The real shake-up, however, is in who will deliver high-quality health care professional education. No longer is preparation of health professionals the exclusive territory of the large institutions built around myriad professional schools. More and more, the task falls to institutions built on a strong liberal arts tradition that are forward-thinking enough to realize that technical skill proficiency alone will not enable health workers to function efficiently and effectively in this global society. Brenau’s mission is to produce health professionals who possess keen awareness of what is going on in the world around them – the entire world around them – so they can make connections, communicate, think critically and strategically and, no matter what job they are in, take charge in ensuring that problems are solved.

That is what ForeverGold means. ForeverGold builds on the graduates who have made big differences in the world. The campaign underscores the point that the university’s mission is to remain the gold standard in higher education across all academic platforms, forever producing difference-making graduates for a world that demands they be equipped intellectually and emotionally.

ForeverGold means that Brenau will not only step up its historic role as a women’s college producing amazing leaders, but also will embrace its newer, more diverse role as a university specializing in developing leaders – women and men – for our global society. The campaign elevates the development of global leaders from a natural byproduct of Brenau Women’s College to a deliberate, enthusiastic mission of Brenau University.

Because of economics and pure political shortsightedness, students in the first half of the 21st century no longer have access to the higher education assets that were available in the last half of the 20th century. Gone are the so-called “free” public colleges, universities and technical schools. We see drastic reductions in student aid availability. Higher education institutions face greater demand than ever to cut costs and demonstrate benefits. ForeverGold takes a step toward providing students – undergraduate and graduate, men and women – with more access to education and toward ensuring that Brenau can build on its past to fulfill future needs.

With the execution of Brenau University’s strategic plan, we not only will be a part of the solution to higher education’s problems, but – as we expect of our students – Brenau will aggressively lead in addressing those issues. We cannot make this impact without your support in the ForeverGold campaign.

If you have never given before, we need your financial support now more than ever. If you have given, we need you again.

That is ForeverGold. Forever Brenau.

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