Ed L. Schrader became the ninth president of Brenau University on Jan. 1, 2005, and since has put the university on an aggressive growth path to increase enrollment to about 6,000 students in the next decade. Although the strategy entails preserving the 136-year-old Women’s College, which has been a part of the Gainesville and Southeastern community since 1878, it also builds significantly on the expansion of coeducational graduate and undergraduate programs on Brenau campuses in Gainesville, around Georgia and online. To that end, the university launched three doctoral programs in the health sciences: Nursing (Doctor of Nursing Practice, DNP); Occupation Therapy (Occupational Therapy Doctorate, OTD); and Doctor of Physical Therapy, DPT).
The Mississippi native previously served for four and a half years as president of Shorter University in Rome, Georgia. He also served as associate dean of sciences and in several other academic capacities at his undergraduate alma mater, Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. Schrader majored in geology and minored in chemistry at Millsaps, where he graduated cum laude in 1973. In 1975 he was Chancellor’s Honor Graduate at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he earned a Master of Sciences degree in geology and chemistry. In 1977 the Phi Beta Kappa member completed a Ph.D. at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, where he majored in geochemistry.
In addition to faculty and research roles at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and Millsaps along his career path, Schrader also worked as chief geologist for the J. M. Huber Corporation in Macon, Georgia, and as vice president of United Catalysts, Inc. in Louisville, Kentucky. He also served as president of Diversified Minerals Corporation in Louisville, specializing in acquisition and rehabilitation of historical mining properties, and as CEO of Consolidated Ecosystems Inc. in Jackson, Mississippi.
Schrader has written extensively for both academic and non-academic publications. He has authored 64 scholarly presentations and 34 peer-reviewed publications. He also has served as associate editor for Environmental Geology, an international scientific journal.
At Brenau, Schrader has stressed the university’s academic quality, its global reach and financial strength. The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2011 accorded “honor roll” status for Brenau’s position in the top 10 national universities among its annual Great Colleges to Work For survey. Since that time, Brenau has continued to receive high marks in workplace surveys, including those of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Atlanta Business Chronicle, both of which look at all businesses, institutions and non-profit organizations in the region. The university has been recognized in these surveys for the collaborative governance style Schrader deployed and the faculty and staff’s confidence in senior management of the university. In 2014 Schrader was featured in a cover story of The Chronicle of Higher Education for the innovative financial management systems he installed at Brenau that kept the university fiscally healthy and growing through a national and international economic downturn that adversely impacted many other institutions of higher education. In the system, the article noted, Schrader and Brenau officials track costs of each academic program and university operation to the penny and “use that information to figure out how to grow strategically.”
Since Schrader’s arrival, the university has experienced more than a 30 percent growth in enrollment, expanded facilities significantly and joined the ranks of comprehensive universities in the Southeast with addition of four terminal degrees and other graduate programs. Brenau expanded its footprint from the historic 55-acre campus in Gainesville to the Brenau East facility about a mile from the main campus and in 2013 to the Brenau Downtown Center on the city square. A new athletics complex about a mile from campus is scheduled for first phase completion in 2015. In addition to ongoing operations on the Kings Bay Navy Submarine Base in southeast Georgia, campuses in Augusta and Norcross have been expanded significantly; Brenau also added a campus in Fairburn; and by the end of 2014 had completed plans and build-out for an additional location. On the historic campus, construction was scheduled to be completed in 2015 on four new sorority houses, a large general residence hall and large, state-of-the-art human anatomy lab for use in undergraduate and graduate health sciences and biology studies.
Since the 1990s, Schrader has aggressively worked to develop working relationships and partnerships with academic institutions around the world, particularly in China. Those efforts came to fruition for Brenau in mid-2014 when the People’s Republic of China approved an agreement between Brenau University and Anhui Normal University for a joint degree program in early childhood teacher education. It is designed to bring scores of Chinese students to Georgia starting in 2016, as well as provide study abroad opportunities for American students and faculty exchanges from both institutions scheduled to commence in 2015.
Schrader is a founding member of the Phi Kappa Phi honor society at Brenau and of the Mississippi Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at Millsaps. One hallmark of his tenure as Brenau’s president was the 2011 re-affirmation of Brenau’s credentials by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the regional accreditation board that oversees all operations of public and private colleges and universities in the Southeastern United States.
After Brenau’s re-affirmation, Schrader was elected to the board of directors of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and re-elected to a second term in 2014. He also was appointed to a Washington-based Council of Independent Colleges 22-member blue-ribbon panel of U.S. college presidents. The panel was charged with developing a plan that encourages independent colleges and universities to revitalize their missions and business models to be more responsive to needs of future students.
He also has served as a member of the boards of directors for several organizations, including the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, Elachee Nature and Science Center, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Independent Colleges Association and the Atlanta Regional Consortium of Higher Education. He is a member of the student finance committee of the National Association of Colleges and Universities. Schrader is a founding director of Kaxil Kiuic Biocultural Reserve, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, and he previously served for 10 years as a member of the Board of Visitors of Duke University for the Department of Earth Sciences.
He and his wife, Myra, a former mathematics professor, reside in Gainesville, Georgia. They have two adult children, Melanie, an obstetrician and gynecologist, and Edward, a dentist, as well as four granddaughters.