Local entrepreneurs Brad and Paige Usry have given $100,000 to Augusta University to support student scholarships in the James M. Hull College of Business.
“First of all, we are thankful that we have the resources that we can do this,” said Brad Usry, a third-generation business owner who earned his business management degree in 1982 from Augusta College, a legacy school of Augusta University. “Secondly, Augusta University is such a big part of our lives. Paige and I met at AU and spent our young adult lives there — I played basketball four years, and she cheered for three years. That’s where we developed our relationship.”
Paige was also studying business at the school, but it was in the gym where she first noticed Brad.
“My father said I had to stay in Augusta for two years and then I could move to (University of) Georgia,” recalled Paige. “But then I met Brad, so I didn’t go anywhere.”
Brad was equally impressed with Paige.
“Her first two years as a cheerleader at AU, they won the national championship. They weren’t going against Division II teams; they were going against squads from the University of Tennessee and University of Georgia,” Brad said. “And both of those years Paige was selected to be an All-American.”
“We had a good squad, a really good squad,” said Paige, who used her athleticism to establish her longtime career as a personal trainer and fitness instructor. She and Brad are still very athletic and often take runs together through the campus, which is in their neighborhood.
Brad grew up at Fat Man’s Corner where his father Horace Usry took over the store from Brad’s grandfather. The family business expanded to include Fat Man’s Forest and an adjacent café where it thrived for decades before the family sold the land and closed the businesses. Today Brad and his son Havird co-own and operate Augusta businesses including Fat Man’s Mill Café, Enterprise Mill Events & Catering and The Southern Salad as well as the historic Sno-Cap Drive-In in North Augusta.
“A big part of my business is AU,” said Brad, a former trustee for the AU Foundation. “We have a strong business relationship with many parts of AU, catering food and events. We feed off the school, and they also feed us with customers and employees.”
Giving back to Augusta University was a fitting decision for the Usrys.
“The business school and the athletic connection was obvious,” said Brad, who was named a distinguished alumnus in athletics in 2016. With my background and Paige’s background as entrepreneurs, business is our life. But the biggest thing is that we are thankful, and we hope we inspire others to do what we’re doing, to give at whatever level they can.”
Established in 1971, the James M. Hull College of Business is focused on student success in and out of the classroom with a vision of developing exceptional business professionals through experiential learning and community engagement who make a positive impact on local and global business communities.
“We are so fortunate to have such strong support from local alumni and business leaders like Brad and Paige Usry,” said Rick Franza, PhD, dean of Hull College. “Scholarships provide the opportunity to earn degrees for students who may not otherwise afford college. By creating this endowed scholarship, Brad and Paige are making a lasting difference for deserving students in perpetuity. We cannot thank them enough for their generosity to the Hull College and its students.”