The newly named Swinton A. Griffith III Deanship of the College of Business & Communication at Brenau University has been made possible through a gift of the Melvin Douglas and Victoria Kay Ivester Foundation. The naming honors the long friendship with both Doug and Kay Ivester and is in recognition of Griffith’s work as a founding board member of the Ivester Foundation.
“The Melvin Douglas and Victoria Kay Ivester Foundation is pleased to make another important investment in Brenau and through it to the larger Hall County community,” said Lynn Darby, president of the Ivester Foundation. “Developing leaders with strong business and communication skills are critical in every facet of the growing economy in Northeast Georgia.”
The Ivester Foundation contributed $350,000 that made this naming possible. The gift will be used by the College of Business & Communication to support the educational experiences and career-building needs of its students and to connect the efforts of the college to the business community of Gainesville, Hall County and the greater North Georgia region.
“This gift could not have come at a more opportune time,” said Brenau University President Anne Skleder, “as we are in a search for a replacement of our current dean who plans to retire at the end of June. Having a named deanship with a supporting fund of the college’s efforts strengthens our search for the next dean of this important college. We at Brenau are grateful for this most recent gift and take seriously our stewardship of this and the many other investments the Ivester Foundation has made in Brenau University.”
“I am most humbled by the generosity of Doug and Kay through their foundation in naming this dean’s chair in my honor,” Swinton Griffith said. “I am so pleased to have my name affixed to such an important role within Brenau University — a position whose holder is able to help shape the direction and depth of education of Brenau business and communication students. I look forward to the opportunity to engage the dean, faculty and the students and to share my experiences with them as time moves forward.”
Brenau University is organized academically into the College of Business & Communication, the College of Education, the College of Fine Arts & Humanities and the Ivester College of Health Sciences. The College of Business & Communication currently has 531 students and offers nine undergraduate, 31 graduate and 13 certificate programs. The college prides itself on providing practical, employable skills and knowledge to prepare students for a rapidly changing workplace through deploying continuous quality improvement methods.
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, physician assistant and psychology. Their support of educational opportunities for Brenau’s students, thereby preparing them for meaningful careers, also reflects their efforts to improve the employment potential for those in Hall County through their philanthropic endeavors.
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, a programming endowment bringing internationally renowned speakers and thought leaders to Brenau campuses, and a gift that established the Lynn J. Darby School of Psychology and Adolescent Counseling.
In 2017, the Melvin Douglas and Victoria Kay Ivester Foundation made a gift 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 the Ernest Ledford Grindle Athletics Park, named for Kay’s mother and father respectively.
“Swinton and I have been friends for decades,” Doug Ivester said. “Kay and I have come to appreciate his wisdom and candid counsel over the years, especially as we have created the Ivester Foundation to help grow and support the greater good of Gainesville and Hall County. We are pleased the foundation has decided to honor Swinton in this way.”
Brenau University Board of Trustees Chair Mike Smith said he continues to be impressed by the strategic support of the foundation. “We are so appreciative of the Ivester Foundation’s continuing support through their expansion into the College of Business & Communication that is another important and impactful program in the university. The naming of this deanship makes tangible our commitment to attracting and securing the best faculty possible who are committed to student success.”