Brooks A. Keel, PhD
President, Augusta University

Dear Friends of Augusta University, As you open this annual report, I hope you are inspired by the many examples of loyalty and generosity found in its pages. It is evident that Augusta University’s priorities – our patients and our students – align with the priorities of many of our donors, alumni and friends.

For example, alumna and board member Elaine Clark Smith established a much-needed endowment to support her passion for literacy. Meanwhile, community supporters Lou and Mason McKnight III went to bat for improvements for our baseball/softball complex by investing a gift of $1 million into the project.

The late Dr. Emile Fisher, though not an alumnus, left a legacy to benefit the Dental College of Georgia through his astute estate planning. During his lifetime, he generously supported student scholarships with his personal gifts and through the foundation that bears his name.

Also during this past fiscal year, we were overwhelmed by the tangible endorsement of the Kevin and Brittany Kisner Foundation. Their $5.3 million gift to the Children’s Hospital of Georgia will positively impact our youngest patientsand their families. It was my honor to present the Kisners with the 2022 Augusta University President’s Award, the highest award I have the privilege of bestowing each year.

Finally, you’ll read about the recent pinning of our second cohort of MCG 3+ Peach State Scholars and the magnanimous gifts that helped launch this program in 2021. Leadership gifts from Peach State Health Plan, the Medical College of Georgia Foundation and donors to the foundation, as well as generous support from the state of Georgia, allowed us to begin providing scholarships for a cohort of medical students who earn their MD degree in three years (instead of four) and commit to practice in a rural or underserved area in Georgia.

All in all, it has been a great year for philanthropy, and we are humbly grateful for your support and contributions.

In closing, it is my privilege to introduce Brandon T. McCray, the new vice president for Development in Philanthropy & Alumni Engagement who comes to us from Florida State University. I am confident his extensive fundraising background and demonstrated leadership skills will position Augusta University for continued success. Brandon joined us in August, and you can read more about him in his closing letter of this giving report.

My best wishes for another successful and healthy year.

Go Jags!

Brooks A. Keel, PhD
President, Augusta University

President’s Award Bestowed to Kisners

Augusta University President Brooks A. Keel, PhD, presented the 2022 President’s Award to Kevin and Brittany Kisner and the Kisner Foundation in May 2022 for their outstanding philanthropic support of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia. 

“It takes a leadership gift from people in our community like Kevin and Brittany Kisner to truly make a difference in what we do here,” Keel said. “The Kisners are not just giving money; they are helping us build a dedicated program in pediatric development and behavioral health that will serve children and impact them for their lifetimes.” 

In November 2021 the Kisners pledged $5.3 million to help establish and name a center for pediatric development, behavioral health and wellness, giving $300,000 as an immediate gift. They followed this with a May 2022 gift of $1 million to Children’s. 

“Everyone can give something, and we hope we inspire others to give,” said Brittany Kisner, co-founder and board chair of the Kevin & Brittany Kisner Foundation. 

Read More > About the Kisner Foundation

2021-2022 AU Foundation


  • Al Harris
  • Deborrah Layman, RN
  • Cameron Nixon
    Vice Chair
  • Karen Hughes
    Co -Treasurer
  • Adam Williams
    Co -Treasurer
  • Bruce Ashendorf, DMD
  • Dennis Sodomka
    Co-Immediate Past Chair
  • Robert C. Osborne
    Co-Immediate Past Chair
  • John Black, PhD
  • Eileen Brandon*
  • Dave Brendza
  • Laura Brower, MSN, RN
  • Eddie Bussey
  • Christine Crawford, ScD
  • Jason Cuevas
  • William D’Antignac
  • Alan Griffin
  • Robersteen Howard, MD
  • Henry Ingram
  • William P. Kanto, Jr., MD
  • Katrina Keefer*
  • Brooks Keel, PhD
  • Russell Keen, EdD*
  • Leslie Lambert
  • Neil MacKinnon, PhD*
  • Susan Nicholson
  • Stevie Redmond
  • Kathleen Robinson, DMD
  • Elaine Clark Smith
  • Yvonne Turner, CPM, CCP*
  • Stephen Wertz*
  • Gerald Woods
  • Anita Wylds
  • William Kuhlke**
  • The Honorable J. Carlisle  Overstreet**
  • Bernard Silverstein**


*Ex-officio, non-voting members **Emeritus



  • J. Ben Deal, DMD
    Chairman of the Board
  • Charles G. Green Jr., MD
    Vice Chair
  • Sam Richwine Jr., MD
    Immediate Past Chair
  • Lloyd B. Schnuck Jr., MD
  • Buffi G. Boyd, MD
  • Eileen Brandon****
  • H. Gordon Davis Jr., MD**
  • James Davis, MD, FACR
  • Richard M. Franza, PhD
  • Murray A. Freedman, MD
  • Ellen S. Goodrich, MN, BSN
  • Don Grantham
  • Carole M. Hanes, DMD
  • J. Daniel Hanks Jr., MD**
  • David C. Hess, MD****
  • Judith V. Hodnett, MSN, RN
  • James M. Hull, LHD
  • Brooks A. Keel, PhD***
  • Joshua A. Lane, MD
  • Terri G. Lockhart, MD, FACP
  • D. Ronald Spearman, MD
  • Tat Thompson
  • Cecil F. Whitaker Jr., MD**

**Emeritus ***Ex-Officio Voting ****Ex-Officio Non-Voting

Philanthropy & Alumni News

Going to bat for Athletics

A lifelong passion for sports and a love for his alma mater inspired Mason McKnight III and his wife Lou to commit $1 million to Augusta University Athletics.

MCG primary care program receives $17.4 million boost

The Medical College of Georgia Foundation designated $8.7 million in funding to match a new state appropriation to the Medical College of Georgia providing a combined $17.4 million for the MCG 3+ Primary Care Pathway Program.

Dr. Emile T. Fisher

Legacy of late periodontist lives on through dental student scholarships

Elaine Clark Smith

Alumna and board member turns passion for literacy into endowment for Augusta University Literacy Center

Vice President’s


Hello, Augusta!

My wife Makiva and I are excited to be here and to make the Garden City our new home. We look forward to meeting the Augusta University community and making many new friends.

As you may know, I have served as a philanthropy executive in higher education for more than 25 years, including leadership posts at the University of North Florida and Florida State University. As I considered leaving the Sunshine State for this position at AU, I began exploring the university’s website and scouring the local and regional news for the area. It was extremely reassuring to see Augusta University so frequently recognized as a leader in academics, research and patient care. All this positive publicity helped affirm our family’s decision to relocate.

Since I arrived in August, I have seen firsthand the many ways Augusta University is Creating a Legacy Like No Other through unique programs and opportunities such as the MCG 3+ Program (Peach State Scholars) that is educating and placing doctors in underserved areas of Georgia where they are needed most. Through AU’s partnership with the Georgia Cyber Center, we are training the next generation of cyber defenders to protect our nation’s data superhighway. Furthermore, we will soon launch Augusta University Online, which will empower students from almost anywhere in
the world to earn college degrees through a virtual curriculum.

I was also very pleased to learn how much support Augusta University receives from this community, the region and the state. In fact, your generosity in fiscal year 2022 enabled Philanthropy & Alumni Engagement – my new team – to exceed its $25 million fundraising goal, bringing in more than $38.5 million in scholarships, program support and other gifts. We are incredibly grateful for your interest and humbled by your support for Augusta University. Put simply, we cannot succeed without you.

I express my sincere thanks to Eileen Brandon for her dedicated leadership over the past 10 months while she served as interim vice president, leading the team in this stellar accomplishment. The board members of our foundations also worked incredibly hard on our behalf, and I appreciate their efforts as well. I certainly have my work cut out for me for FY 2023, but I enjoy a good challenge.

Thanks to the knowledge and vision of President Keel and the collective leadership of this great institution, Augusta University continues to experience tremendous growth. There is much more work ahead as we push to achieve our new strategic plan and meet the goals therein. I hope we may continue to count on you for support.

I am delighted to have joined this dynamic team and this vibrant university, and I can hardly wait to see what comes next.

Warm regards,

Brandon T. McCray
Vice President for Development
Philanthropy & Alumni Engagement
Augusta University

The Kevin & Brittany Kisner Foundation is helping to establish a pediatric behavioral health and wellness center.

Children’s health is a major focus for the Kisner Foundation, a non-profit started by Aiken native and PGA golfer Kevin Kisner and his wife Brittany, who worked at Children’s Hospital of Georgia from 2009-2012 as a speech pathologist. During that time, “I saw children who needed a variety of services. The need for developmental pediatricians was there and for more comprehensive care,” Brittany Kisner recalled.

Nearly 1 in 5 children has a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder, such as anxiety or depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), disruptive behavior disorder, or Tourette syndrome, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children with these disorders benefit from early diagnosis and treatment, but only about 20% of children have access to the specialized care they need.


“With the help of the Kisner Foundation, we are trying to close this gap, bringing everything into one comprehensive program, so that families can get the diagnosis, the care, the treatment and all the services they need in one place,”

– said Dr. Valera Hudson, pediatrician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital of Georgia
and chair of the Department of Pediatrics for the Medical College of Georgia.

The pediatric behavioral health and wellness center will provide a multidisciplinary approach to care based on each child’s needs such as testing and evaluation; referrals for psychotherapy, counseling or other mental health services, in collaboration with MCG Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; physical, occupational or speech therapy; social workers and nursing support to assist with care coordination; and connecting parents and families with ancillary support services.

“We really want to focus on the whole child,” said Brittany Kisner. “By supporting pediatric behavioral health and wellness at Children’s Hospital of Georgia, we can help ensure that families have access to vital resources their children need to grow and develop into successful adults. That’s our mission at the Kisner Foundation,” she said.

“If we don’t effect change at a young age, then what are we even doing here?” Kevin Kisner said. “If we can all pull our assets together and everybody get behind a program that will affect the biggest part of our society, then it’s a win for everyone.”

A lifelong passion for sports and a love for his alma mater inspired Mason McKnight III and his wife Lou to commit $1 million to Augusta University Athletics.

Going to bat for Athletics

Not only will their gift help fund crucial facilities improvements, but the softball field will bear the Mason McKnight III family name in recognition of their generosity.

“Sports kept me busy and made me want to achieve greater things,” said McKnight. “I played football since I was about six years old and through high school at Richmond Academy. Sports are structured and there are many lessons to be learned.”

After high school, McKnight went first to Clemson University and then to Georgia Tech. Ultimately, he returned home to attend Augusta (College) University and to work with his family at McKnight Construction, started by his father and grandfather.

“First of all, my father wouldn’t let me in the office until I got my degree. It made me work harder to finish,” said McKnight, who earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in 1980. “Augusta (the business school) taught me how to finish something. I look back on all the courses I had; for example, Humanities was not fun, but I had to pass it. It prepares you.”

When he came back to AU, “Daddy made me pay for it, and, I’ll be honest, when you’re paying for it yourself, it changes things,” McKnight said. “From there I was headed in the right direction.”

McKnight soon met and married his wife Lou, from Lincolnton, Georgia, who was a teacher at National Hills Elementary School. Lou is also fond of sports and regularly plays tennis. Together they raised three sons, teaching them the value of family, community, sports and more.

“With my children, I kept them as busy as possible. I said, ‘You can do the spelling bee, but you should also play sports’,” said McKnight. “And I was lucky to see all three of my boys win state championships –Mason IV in golf at Augusta Prep; Matt, golf at Richmond Academy; and Marshall, soccer at Richmond Academy.”

Today theMcKnight men have families of their own and proudly work with their father. In 1986, Mason McKnight III established his own company, ACC Construction, which specializes in military and state department construction projects. His two older sons, Mason IV and Matthew, are vice presidents, and the youngest, Marshall, is the company’s chief financial officer. They have completed work in 15 states and Haiti.

Not only does the family work together; they play together. The extended McKnight family, including sons, wives and seven grandchildren, take a trip together each summer. McKnight expects to be surrounded by his devoted family for the naming event at the softball field.

“They are really excited,” he said. “I explained to them that (the facility) will also serve as a venue for concerts, movies and other community events.”

When Clint Bryant, former AU athletics director, took him to see the condition of the grounds outside Christenberry Fieldhouse, McKnight was shocked. “Most local high schools have better and newer facilities than Augusta University,” he said.

“For years Augusta has been looked at as a golf college only, but we need to support softball, baseball, basketball … all the programs. I hope we can get some more people on board and get AU Athletics built to current day standards.”

The McKnights, who gave a significant gift to the J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons on the Health Sciences Campus, are proud to support the university.

“We love watching Augusta University grow from where it was when I was in school to where it is now.”

The Medical College of Georgia Foundation designated $8.7 million in funding to match a new state appropriation to the Medical College of Georgia providing a combined $17.4 million for the MCG 3+ Primary Care Pathway Program.

MCG 3+ Primary Care Pathway Program Donors

  • Centene/Peach State Health Plan
  • Hearst Foundations
  • Georgia Community Foundation
  • Dr. Yekeen Aderibigbe and Earlie Dee Rockette-Aderibigbe, MSC, EdD
  • Dr. Thomas “Tom” Jr. (MD ’01) and Julie Bradbury
  • Dr. James (MD ’08) and Amelia Callaway
  • Dr. John Darden (MD ’71)
  • Dr. J. Roy Rowland (MD ’52)*
  • Dr. George (MD ’55) and Martha Sessions
  • Dr. George Snelling
  • Dr. Matthew (MD ’06) and Brooklyn Thom

MCG primary care program receives $17.4 million boost

The MCG 3+ Primary Care Pathway Program allows medical students who commit to primary care practice in rural or underserved Georgia to become doctors in three years (instead of four) and immediately enter a residency in Georgia in either family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, emergency medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, or general surgery. In exchange for their commitment, those students will receive a scholarship to cover their tuition, enabled by funds from the support of donors and the state.

In the 2022 Georgia legislative session, the General Assembly, with the support of Governor Brian Kemp, allocated $8.7 million in state funding toward the program, the state’s second MCG 3+ investment.

“Since day one of my administration, we’ve recognized a need for and worked to strengthen Georgia’s nursing and physician pipeline, especially in rural Georgia,” Kemp said. “Investments in programs like the MCG 3+ Primary Care Pathway help us toward our goal of building a safer, stronger and healthier Georgia, and we are grateful that the Medical College of Georgia Foundation has generously chosen to match these funds and support this critical need.”

Last year, the legislature and the governor provided $5.2 million for the program, matching a generous gift from Peach State Health Plan that kickstarted the initiative to address Georgia’s growing physician shortage.

“With these investments, we are able to do the exact thing you would expect the state’s public medical school to do, and that is to provide physicians for rural and underserved areas in Georgia,” said Augusta University President Brooks A. Keel. These critical funds will help provide scholarships for the medical students who commit to practice frontline medicine in areas where the need for physicians is the greatest.”

“I am immensely thankful to Governor Kemp and the Georgia Legislature for their continued support of this important program and for further ensuring that all Georgians have access to quality primary care, no matter their ZIP code,” said MCG Dean Dr. David Hess. “As the state’s only public medical school, it is our responsibility and our privilege to help ensure the health of Georgia’s citizens and communities.”


Legacy of late periodontist lives on through dental student scholarships

Dr. Emile T. Fisher was a generous man. A plaque in the lobby of the Dental College of Georgia building recognizes the late periodontist, philanthropist, community leader and volunteer for his leadership support of the capital campaign that helped fund the construction of the state-of-the-art, five-story dental training and patient care facility.

What this honorary plaque does not include is the names of the hundreds of dental students Fisher has impacted through scholarship support – made possible by the gifts he has given to Augusta University during his lifetime and posthumously through his estate.

His impoverished upbringing may be a clue to the motivation behind his big-heartedness. Fisher grew up with four siblings in what he once described as “a very, very poor household.” Though he knew he wanted to be a dentist, Fisher also realized the road to that goal would be a long one – he had to work several years and save every paycheck before he could afford to enter college.

But Fisher was tenacious and never wavered in his commitment to pursue his chosen profession. So driven was he, that after graduating from dental school at Emory University, he worked nights at an insurance company to pay for post-graduate education for his periodontal degree from Northwestern University.

It was this hardscrabble path that inspired him to help others, to make the way easier for them than it was for him.

Fisher had an unparalleled generosity of spirit, according to his sole surviving sibling, Jean Fisher Smith. She said he was fiercely committed to making life easier for others and that his philanthropy extended to many organizations.

Fisher was also charitable with his time and expertise, serving on the boards of several dental societies, often as president. He provided periodontal care to indigent patients at an Atlanta clinic for many years and helped lead the successful effort to add sodium fluoride to Atlanta’s water supply to help prevent cavities in children’s teeth.

It is hard to imagine how a man who gave so much and served so selflessly throughout his lifetime could make time for those he loved.

“He was the best brother a sister could possibly have,” Jean Fisher Smith said. “When I went away to college, he wrote a letter to me every week.”

Sensing that she may be lonely, Fisher wanted to make sure his beloved sister did not go a week without having a letter in her mailbox.

Later in life the two siblings traveled extensively.

“My brother wanted to show his little sister – the baby of the family – the world, and so we embarked on 16 amazing trips together, including 12 that were overseas,” said Fisher Smith.

In 2008, Fisher presented his sister with a plaque of her own, a gift she is too modest to display. In essence, it is a letter expressing his love and adoration for her.

Their bond was close, and Fisher Smith still thinks of her brother often, even after his passing in 2020 at age 96. When reflecting upon his memory, Fisher Smith speaks of her deep love, respect and adoration for Fisher, who entrusted her with managing the affairs of his estate.

“I can sense his presence and often feel him looking over my shoulder and guiding me in such matters,” said Fisher Smith.

Although Fisher is no longer here to witness it, his legacy of generosity will continue providing invaluable scholarships to dental students in perpetuity.


Alumna and board member turns passion for literacy into endowment for Augusta University Literacy Center

When Elaine Clark Smith was a student at Augusta University, she had no idea that one day she would be on the Augusta University Foundation board of trustees or that she would create the Elaine Clark Smith Literacy Endowment Fund to benefit one of her lifelong passions: helping others learn to read.

“I have a very long history with Augusta University going back to Augusta College,” said Clark Smith, who chairs the literacy center advisory board. “I was a student here, as was my sister. I graduated from here. My father went here as well, so it goes back several generations.”

Clark Smith, a graduate of the College of Education and Distinguished Alumna in 2006, first became interested in the Augusta University Literacy Center while she was serving as chair of the board of trustees for the Augusta State University Foundation. She worked closely with Paulette Harris in the early days when the literacy center was on Magnolia Drive in a small house near the Forest Hills Campus.

The idea behind that first literacy center in 1990 was to help adults who were struggling with literacy by giving them a place to go and the resources to learn to read. While working with the adults, it became apparent that their children also struggled with reading, so the center evolved to include children, teens and adults.

In addition to free tutoring services, the literacy center also offers educational workshops and seminars to encourage the development of literacy skills.