Nita Tammarine reacts as she crosses the finish line during the Dempsey Dash 5K, a race celebrating the memory of Brenau's longtime Executive Vice President and CFO Wayne Dempsey, on Saturday, March 11, 2017. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Inaugural Dempsey Dash 5K Celebrates Esteemed Former Brenau Executive

A beloved member of the Brenau family was remembered at the inaugural Dempsey Dash 5K on March 10.

The event celebrated the life of longtime Brenau Executive Vice President and CFO Wayne Dempsey, who died in 2014. Proceeds benefit the Wayne W. Dempsey Endowed Scholarship Fund, which provides assistance for students seeking a better life through a Brenau education in the College of Education or the College of Health Sciences.

Wayne Dempsey
Wayne Dempsey

“It has touched our hearts tremendously,“ Dempsey’s wife, Marsha, says. “That Brenau wants to do something like this in his memory to benefit others is so appropriate. His life was to help other people, and he especially enjoyed working with students and enabling them to get a good education even when it was difficult.”

Dempsey was born and raised in Rome, Georgia, where he met Marsha. He came to Brenau in 2005 with new university president Ed Schrader, who was his former boss at Shorter University in Dempsey’s hometown. Although he was a science teacher early in his career, Dempsey’s forte became institutional management, and Schrader credits Dempsey for putting Brenau’s financial house in order.

Dempsey’s focus on decreased spending, cash flow and a developed endowment formula allowed the Women’s College enrollment to skyrocket despite the challenging financial times. The financial stability he afforded Brenau enabled the university to expand its Augusta and North Atlanta campuses and to open a new campus in Fairburn in 2009. It also grew its footprint in Gainesville with Brenau East Campus at Featherbone Communiversity and the Brenau Downtown Center.

However, Dempsey’s legacy at Brenau is greater even than the campuses he left behind. His cheerfulness, even to the end, is remembered. So, too, is his passion for fried chicken. He rarely missed a “Fried Chicken Wednesday” in the campus dining hall. His great love of music – which he expressed by using his polished singing voice and talent with orchestral instruments – led him to create the ongoing All-Steinway program, an endeavor to raise money to replace Brenau’s aged collection of pianos with fine Steinways.

The university hopes to continue his legacy through the scholarship fund in his name and the creation of this recurring event – a hope shared by Dempsey’s wife.

“I think it would be a wonderful thing to do, to continue it,” says Marsha Dempsey. “I think it was a great turnout for the very first one, and I look forward to this in the future and to raising even more money to help others.”

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