With a $2.6 million personal gift from Douglas and Kay Ivester, the department of psychology at Brenau University in Gainesville has become a school in the Ivester College of Health Services.
Brenau officials announced the gift on Monday, June 29, announcing at the same time the formation of the Lynn J. Darby School of Psychology and Adolescent Counseling.
The naming honors a lifelong friend of both Doug and Kay Ivester, going back to their days working together at Ernst & Ernst, and is in recognition of Darby's work as the president of the Melvin Douglas and Victoria Kay Ivester Foundation.
“Lynn Darby and I have known each other for over 50 years. We have worked together, traveled together, laughed together and cried together,” said Doug Ivester in a press statement. “Lynn’s mother was a highly respected teacher in Florence, Alabama. Teaching and investing in young people have always been close to Lynn’s heart and his heritage. Kay and I are honored to see the Darby name associated with Brenau’s Ivester College of Health Sciences.”
The gift from the Ivesters includes financial support and their Charles Webster Hawthorne collection of 30 works that will be given to the Ivester College of Health Sciences for their continued use in classes for psychology, integrating the arts and health sciences.
“I appreciate Doug and Kay for providing me with this kind gesture of naming Brenau’s School of Psychology and Adolescent Counseling in my honor,” said Darby. “It is wonderful to be connected to a school that will help meet the needs of Hall County and its vulnerable adolescent population.”
Brenau University President Anne Skleder called the Ivesters latest gift "extraordinary."
"Their generosity and commitment to the health sciences in Gainesville and Hall County is incredible, and we are humbled to be stewards of their investment," Skleder said.
Psychology currently is a department within the Ivester College of Health Sciences. Skleder said the elevation of this area from a department to a school is especially timely since the field of counseling and clinical psychology is in high demand nationally, with growth by 2028 and beyond projected to be three times the average profession growth.
“Even more importantly, the local need is great,” Skleder said. “In Hall County, there are 1,290 clients for each clinician, compared to 330 clients to each clinician in top performing counties. In terms of Brenau’s competitive advantage, there are few doctorates in clinical psychology in this region, and our focus on adolescent counseling will help our program meet a societal need while also being an important point of distinction.”
The new school will be housed on the second floor of the Gainesville Renaissance building, which will complete the fourth side of the downtown square in Gainesville. Construction is scheduled to begin later this year on the project and the facility should be available for use starting in the summer of 2022.
The Ivesters, who grew up in the New Holland community adjacent to Gainesville city limits about two miles from the historic Brenau campus, have been longtime supporters of Brenau — particularly its mission to help meet long-term regional health needs by the development of undergraduate and graduate professional programs including nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy and the upcoming physician assistant expansion.
Doug Ivester, former chair of Coca-Cola Co., has been a member of the Brenau Board of Trustees for more than 30 years. Over this timeframe, the Ivesters personally have funded various efforts, such as a named scholarship fund supporting students pursuing health science careers and a programming endowment bringing internationally renowned speakers and thought leaders to Brenau campuses. In 2017, the Ivesters made a $3.5 million gift through their Melvin Douglas and Victoria Kay (Grindle) Ivester Foundation that resulted in the naming of Ivester College of Health Sciences. Previous gifts from the Ivester Foundation included contributions to the Mary Inez Grindle School of Nursing and Ernest Ledford Grindle Athletics Park, named for Kay’s mother and father.