Learning Center History and Overview
The Learning Center at Brenau University was established in 1983 when a faculty proposal to create a program for students with learning disabilities was voted upon and passed. Brenau was already serving students with diagnosed learning disabilities and the need to further assist these students was recognized. Ms. Karen Pfunder, a professor of special education, became the first director. The program was designed to help current students learn compensatory skills, as well as to assist future students beginning their educational program in 1984. From this point forward, Brenau offered one of the most highly structured programs for students with learning disabilities and attracted students from many states.
From the very beginning, Brenau recruited college-able students who needed a special program to help them succeed. The Learning Center’s tutoring program, combined with Brenau’s personalized approach to teaching, proved to be an excellent combination for students who have learning disabilities.
The Learning Center evolved over the next thirty years under the direction of Dr. Vince Yamilkoski who served a dual role as the Director of the Learning Center and Professor of Education. Dr. Yamilkoski even helped to launch the Writing Center (housed inside the university’s Trustee Library) in addition to continually looking for ways to improve the Learning Center’s supportive services. The Learning Center’s tutoring program was made available to international students by Dr. Yamilkoski as Brenau welcomed increasing numbers of international students.
Dr. Yamilkoski retired in 2017, after mentoring licensed professional counselor Jennifer Wilson Loggins as she was instated as the new Director. Professor Loggins teaches Human Growth and Development as well as Abnormal Psychology for the Brenau University Psychology Department. With a background in psychological testing and report writing, teaching, professional tutoring and counseling, Professor Loggins holistically supports students with academic coaching, determines reasonable accommodations, collaborates with faculty and acts as an advocate for students as they become confident in their self-advocacy skills.
At the heart of the program is the service of providing quality professional tutoring at no cost to the student on a weekly basis during the hours of 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday by appointment. Students receive regularly scheduled tutoring sessions twice per week in selected courses. Our tutors have always been the vital center of the program. Not only have they helped teach the content, they often became mentors to the students. The key is for students to come each week for standing appointments with their tutors and not just on a “drop in” basis when they are struggling. Students can also meet with an academic coach once per week on a regularly scheduled basis to improve study skills, time management and organization.
Along with the service of providing tutoring, the Learning Center and the university professors provide specific accommodations to students with disabilities. In order to qualify for the Learning Center’s testing and academic accommodation services, students must provide documentation of a disability. The Director of the program evaluates the documentation and recommends specific accommodations. Although the program was initially established for students with learning disabilities, it quickly became a program for students with all recognized disabilities (physical, mental, emotional and learning disabilities). The most common accommodation has been extended-time testing and testing at the Learning Center in a reduced-distraction environment.
Currently, the Learning Center continues to assist students with disabilities and serves as the point of contact for all disability service (Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA) related matters for Brenau University. Although the tutoring is physically provided only on the main campus at our cozy and inviting building next to Campus Security, Professor Loggins has recently found creative ways to serve all Brenau students who desire professional tutoring by using modern technology. Students at the regional campuses or who are enrolled in the online program can receive tutoring virtually online via Zoom and with the use of a webcam or by phone. Please note that while tutoring is available to all students, students who have documented disabilities or international student status are scheduled first before all other students who desire tutoring. A wait list may exist from time to time as demand has increased.
Accommodations are available to students at all campus locations and to online-only students. As awareness and diagnosis of learning and other disabilities increases and Brenau welcomes an increasing number of international students, it is expected that the demand for the services provided by the Learning Center will increase. Students who utilize the Learning Center’s services tend to earn higher grades, report feeling more confident in their ability to achieve academic success and overcome barriers to success.