Darlene and Eric Brandt and Julie and Lance Fritz

The Brandt-Fritz Dean of Students Chair — a very first — will help Tech students become their very best.

Up until now, there has been only one endowed Dean of Students Chair in the nation — and that was at a private institution, Cornell University.

Now, through the generosity of some Georgia Tech parents — Darlene and Eric Brandt and Julie and Lance Fritz —  the Georgia Institute of Technology will be the first public university to boast an endowed Dean of Students Chair.

The commitment was announced by Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson at the October 27 Georgia Tech Parents Board meeting. “We are making history here today,” he underscored.

In thanking the Brandts and Fritzes, Peterson noted that their gift is not only groundbreaking, but will be life-changing. “A little extra help for some of our students can make a world of difference,” he said. “We are delighted that these families have a vision to provide much-needed support for the most vulnerable members of our student body so that they, too, can thrive and become outstanding Georgia Tech graduates equipped to do great things.”

The chair, subject to Board of Regents consideration and approval, will always be dedicated to the incumbent dean of students.


The Total Graduate

The couples committed $1.25 million each to endow the Brandt-Fritz Dean of Students Chair, which will generate an income of $100,000 a year to be used at the discretion of current Dean of Students John Stein and his successor, in perpetuity.

Before joining together to make this endowment, the main thing the four had in common was having sent their children thousands of miles away to a university whose rigor is a wellspring of pride, but also a fountainhead of apprehension. Wanting to show support for their students and also, frankly, find support themselves, the Brandts from California and the Fritzes from Nebraska joined the Georgia Tech Parents Board.

They found the community they were looking for. “This school has done a nice job of making us feel as parents that we are part of the family,” Eric Brandt said. “Better than any institution we have been involved in directly or through our other children.”

It was through the Parents Board that they got to know Vice President and Dean of Students John Stein and became aware of the role he plays in the lives of Georgia Tech students. At the helm of the Division of Student Life, Stein oversees 16 departments committed to student engagement, leadership, well-being, and success. 

While learning about the Institute’s focus on the “total graduate,” the Brandts and Fritzes also gained a heightened awareness of the obstacles to success that many Georgia Tech students face. What spoke to them and inspired their gift, they said, were the “vulnerable populations” — students affected by problems such as homelessness, food insecurity, mental health issues, and substance abuse. 

Many of these problems have always been part of the college experience, but what is new and different to these parents is Georgia Tech’s response, which is much more proactive than what they remember from back in their college days.

“The thought processes around mental health, around support of the at-risk student, the student without a food plan, the student in recovery — that wasn’t even contemplated when we were in college,” Lance Fritz recalled. “It was more about how do you discipline them or get rid of them, not how do you embrace them and help them so they can finish their education.”


Here’s more from the Brandts and Fritzes about why they endowed the Dean of Students Chair and what they hope their gift will accomplish:

SUPPORT The quality of services provided is only as good as the resources you can put behind it — that’s one of the reasons it was important for us to make sure that there was a constant flow of meaningful funds for the dean of students to work with.

— Eric Brandt

OUTREACH We hope our gift will give the university the means to reach out to students who might not even know a lot of these resources exist — this can help take these programs that the university has worked so hard to put in place to the next level.

— Darlene Brandt

GUIDANCE At-risk students are going one of two ways — they’re either going to drop out or they’re going to be able to stay. We know how valuable a Georgia Tech education is, so if they can just get over that hump, it will make a difference for their entire lives.

— Julie Fritz

PURPOSE We are pleased that the Brandts stepped up and looked for others who could join them — what we ultimately hope is that other parents and alumni will be prompted to get engaged and give to the extent that they can.

— Lance Fritz