Condolences to Lisa Shaw, Kathy Little and their families

Weldon Spinks (Don) Gurley Jr., father of Kathy Little, Brenau’s office manager in the Psychology Department, and Lisa Shaw, assistant registrar in the Registrar’s Office, passed away Tuesday, June 4. He was 74.

The family will receive friends from 5-7 p.m. Friday, June 7 at Memorial Park North Riverside Chapel in Gainesville, Georgia.

Don was born on Oct. 6, 1944 in Macon, Georgia, to the late Weldon S. Gurley Sr. and Margery (Woodall) Gurley.

His wife, Judy, was the assistant to the president at Brenau under John S. Burd.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, his two daughters, and his grandchildren Lindsey Little, Hayden Little, and McKenna Shaw. Don is also survived by his sister, Gina Gaines.

Find the full obituary at

Center for the Arts & Design donates sock monkeys

Art & Design Department Chair and Director of The Center for the Arts & Design Claudia Wilburn presents Gainesville Police Department Officer Maricela Del Rio with sock monkeys made made by Brenau students faculty and staff. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Art & Design Department Chair and Director of the Center for the Arts & Design Claudia Wilburn presents Gainesville Police Department Officer Maricela Del Rio with sock monkeys made made by Brenau students, faculty and staff. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Claudia Wilburn, director of Brenau’s Center for the Arts & Design (CAD), found a way to comfort local children by making sock monkeys.

CAD and the Kappa Pi art honors society hosted a sock monkey workshop for faculty, staff, students and community members in January. Participants were encouraged to make two monkeys: one to keep and one to donate to the Gainesville Police Department.

On Thursday, May 23, Officer Maricela Del Rio picked up about 20 sock monkeys made during the workshop. The Gainesville Police Department is one of many departments that keep stuffed animals in their patrol cars to give to upset children to comfort them during situations such as car accidents or domestic calls.

Wilburn’s husband heard about the stuffed animal program a few years. She has been learning how to make sock monkeys, so she mixed the two together.

“One of the key missions of the Center for the Arts & Design is to build community,” Wilburn said. “It also builds a relationship with the GPD and Brenau. We hope to do something similar again in the future.”

Brenau students paint rain barrels for Chattahoochee Riverkeeper fundraiser


barrelStudents from Brenau’s Center for the Arts & Design (CAD) recently painted rain barrels that were sold at silent auction during Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival held Saturday, May 11, at the Brenau Downtown Center.

Members of Kappa Pi art honor society and Zeta Tau Alpha sorority helped paint the barrels, which featured a variety of themes.

The film festival, which was co-sponsored by Brenau, promotes grassroots environmental activism through art and film that illustrate Earth’s beauty, present the challenges facing the planet and highlight the community work around the world to protect our environment.

“Our supporters in the community really appreciate the work Brenau students do for us,” said Dale Caldwell, director of Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s Headwaters office in Gainesville. “It’s also very important to us and something we want to continue and expand upon in the future.”

Funds raised from the Wild and Scenic Film Festival support Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s Neighborhood Water Watch program, a community-led effort to assess and improve water quality in urban streams while protecting human health in neighboring communities. To learn more about the program and view water quality data, go to

For more information and to sign up for the CAD newsletter, go to

CarFit event for older adults June 4

Brenau’s occupational therapy students will hold a community event for older adults called CarFit from 1:30-4 p.m. Tuesday, June 4 in front of the OT department on Chestnut Street.

CarFit is a national program sponsored by AAA, AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association. Brenau students will go through a 12-point checklist to assess the fit of the car to its driver. This includes checking mirror settings, seat belts, head rest heights and car controls. It is not an assessment of the driver’s ability to drive.

The assessment takes about 20 minutes.

If anyone is interested, please have them contact Helene Smith-Gabai at ude.uanerb@iabag-htimsh.

See the PDF flyer for more information on CarFit.

Eugene Williams selected to train as a site visitor chair for GaPSC

Eugene Williams, dean of the College of Education, has been selected to be trained to serve as a site visitor chair for the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC).

During training for the on-site visitor chair, Williams will participate in a series of whole group and small group sessions in addition to simulated review activities, which will allow him to practice taking the lead in an approval review.

The GaPSC peer approval review process assures programs leading to educator certification meets standards designed to provide highly qualified educators for every public school student in Georgia. A critical part of the peer approval review process involves the work of trained volunteers who review approval applications and evidence related to program performance and conduct approval reviews. GaPSC site visitors are knowledgeable of the standards and can apply these standards to the review of educator preparation providers and programs.

Faculty updates

Debra Dobkins, dean of The Women’s College, was initiated into the Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Agnes Scott College, a liberal arts college for women in Decatur, Georgia. She also gave the keynote address.

Didi Cassell, instructor of science, is going to teach in Duke’s Talent Identification Program from June 4 to July 28 at Austin College in Texas. She will be focusing mainly on forensic chemistry and biology, with some emphasis on anthropology and psychology during the course. The Duke TIP programs are “designed specifically for gifted students.”

Dan Odom wins Hagerman-Thompson Staff Excellence Award

Dan Odom wins Hagerman Thompson Award

Congratulations to Dan Odom, instructional technology support technician, for winning the Hagerman-Thompson Staff Excellence Award.

The Hagerman-Thompson Staff Excellence Award has been honoring a staff member who meets a high standard of performance since the 2004 fall semester.

Wild & Scenic Film Festival on Saturday, May 11

Brenau University is a co-sponsor of the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival from 6-9:30 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at the Brenau Downtown Center in Gainesville.

Doors open at 6 p.m. for a happy hour, featuring an environmental expo with local organizations spreading the word about important causes in North Georgia.

A collection of environmental and adventure films will be shown at 7 p.m. The films will illustrate Earth’s beauty, challenges facing the planet and community work around the world to protect our environment.

Funds raised through this event will be used to grow and sustain the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s Neighborhood Water Watch program.

Tickets can be purchased online for $20, but increase to $10 at the door. All ticket purchases include an annual membership to CRK. Purchase tickets at

For more information, contact Hannah Warner at gro.eehcoohattahc@renrawh or calling 678-696-8866.

Condolences to family and friends of Elizabeth (Gibson) Baumgardner

Elizabeth Shirley (Gibson) Baumgardner passed away April 20, 2019, at the age of 98.

Elizabeth married Kenneth Baumgardner (1916-2002) in 1942.  Kenneth was a long-time faculty member in the Music Department at Brenau University. The Kenneth Baumgardner Music Endowment was created in 2005 by Robert W. Gibson in his honor.

Elizabeth remained especially interested in theater in addition to the conflict resolution academic programs at Brenau University.

Memorial gifts may be given to the Elizabeth Baumgardner Peace Award for Mediation given at Brenau University, Attn: Matt Thomas, 500 Washington Street SE, Gainesville, Georgia, 30501 or online at

Full obituary can be found at

Jim Eck inducted into Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Georgia

Brenau University Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Jim Eck, right, with his wife, Wendy.

Brenau University Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs and University of Georgia graduate Jim Eck was inducted into the UGA’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa as an honorary member Wednesday, April 18, at the University of Georgia Chapel.

In addition to joining the ranks of the academic honor society, Eck gave the keynote address at the Spring 2019 Phi Beta Kappa initiation ceremony.

During the initiation ceremony, the University of Georgia pledged its full cooperation and support of Brenau University as it seeks to establish its own Phi Beta Kappa chapter during the years ahead.