Brenau has a new president

Brenau University has a new president, but he is anything but new to the Brenau campus. David Barnett, who has been with the school for 18 years, was named to the post during a called meeting of the university’s Board of Trustees. He becomes the 11th president of Brenau.


“…Mike Smith, chair of the Board of Trustees, expressed his and the board’s confidence in Barnett.

“The Board of Trustees has full confidence in President Barnett’s ability to lead the university, its mission and its strategic plan. Having served in various roles at Brenau for 18 years, no one knows this institution better – including the best ways to keep us moving forward – than David Barnett,” Smith said. “As Brenau celebrates its 145th year, we appreciate President Barnett’s dedication to the university and the leadership he provides as we continue our shared vision for the future.”

Last year, Brenau President Anne Skleder selected Barnett to serve as acting president during her illness. The board named Barnett as interim in the fall. Skleder died in October 2023.

Barnett said he is honored to become the next president of Brenau.

“I am humbled to have been named the 11th president of Brenau. This university first opened its doors in 1878 to provide educational opportunities to women, and our 145-year-old Women’s College remains a vital part of Brenau and our future,” Barnett said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the university’s legacy of high-quality education and service to our students and the community. Through our pioneering programs in healthcare, education, business, and fine arts, we empower individuals to thrive and help shape the region’s future by tackling its critical economic and professional development needs.”

Barnett previously served as executive vice president and chief financial officer at Brenau, overseeing the university’s day-to-day operations and its strategic financial planning. Barnett also teaches a graduate-level course in the College of Education. Previously, Barnett served as interim dean of Brenau’s College of Education from 2010-12 and associate vice president for nonresidential and online programs from 2005-12.

Before coming to Brenau in 2005, Barnett was academic compliance officer and associate dean of students at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. He previously held student-focused and academic administrative positions at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Louisville, Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky, Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Georgia, and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

“I began my career in higher education working daily with students and later moved into academic program leadership. These early experiences helped me solidify my drive to provide programs supporting students in educational endeavors that enhance their collegiate experiences,” Barnett said. “Our commitment to personalized learning and community engagement fuels a vibrant hub of intellectual exploration and social impact, fostering a generation of changemakers who rise to meet the challenges of tomorrow.”

Barnett earned both a Ph.D. in educational leadership and organizational development and a Specialist in Education from the University of Louisville. He also earned a Master of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Bachelor of Arts from Mercer University.

Barnett is on the board of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Lake Lanier Olympic Park Foundation, Quinlan Visual Arts Center and the Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education. Barnett and wife Kimberly have two children and a grandson. He is an active member in a local church and participates in many civic organizations and activities.”