Branum believed in Troy University

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 22, 2005

A Greenville native described as a &#8220visionary” and &#8220a gracious lady” was remembered for her dedication to a state university this week.

On Thursday, the family and friends of the late Frances Daniel Branum, along with faculty, students, and dignitaries, gathered in Troy for the dedication of a new atrium in her honor.

The Frances Daniel Branum Atrium is part of Troy University's new General Academic Building, a state-of-the-art, 42,000 square-foot structure that increases the classroom space on the campus by about 22 percent.

The soaring 46-foot tall atrium is the building's centerpiece, and a fitting tribute to Branum's memory, her sister, Missy Head, said.

&#8220Fran loved atriums…and she believed so strongly in Troy and in Chancellor Hawkins' vision for the school,” Head said.

Branum, who died in 2003 following a struggle with cancer, graduated from Troy in 1993. She served as a member of the Troy University Foundation Board of Directors from 1995-2000.

&#8220I truly didn't realize what a force for the university Fran was…this was certainly an uplifting experience for all of us,” Head said.

Richard Branum said his late wife &#8220would have loved the atrium. It's beautiful.”

Troy University was an important part of Frances' life, Branum said.

&#8220This school meant a lot to Fran. She was in her early 30s when she decided to go back to school and get her degree, and she commuted back and forth four or five days a week. You have to be dedicated to do that.”

In remarks made at Thursday's dedication by Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Fran Branum was described as an &#8220unpretentious” woman who was able to &#8220walk with kings without losing the common touch.”

According to Head, the dedication ceremony, which included the unveiling of a new oil portrait of her late sister, proved &#8220a very moving experience for us all.”

&#8220We all felt it might be an incredibly difficult thing; instead, it turned out to be a true celebration. And the portrait was simply incredible,” she said.

Fran Branum also served on the Greenville-Butler County Library Board, the Children's Policy Council, and the Daniel Foundation Board of Directors.

Burke McFerrin, head librarian, remembers Branum &#8220as a wonderful and visionary board member.”

&#8220Fran was truly interested in her community. She always supported the library and library services of all kinds.”

McFerrin, who also taught Branum at LBW Community College, added, &#8220As a student, a friend, and a board member, she was always a gracious lady.”

During the dedication ceremony, Hawkins presented Richard Branum with a replica of a bronze plaque commemorating the atrium. Along with Branum and Head, other family members of the honoree in attendance at the dedication were sister Susan Bricken, mother Marion Norman, step-daughters Katie Branum and Lee Branum, son Daniel Branum and step-daughter Annie Glenn Branum.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Ed Roach officially opened the building, where classes have been held since September.

A replica terracotta statue of a Chinese warrior traveled some 8,000 miles from Xian, China to Troy, where it will be displayed in the Frances Daniel Branum Atrium.

The statue was provided to the university by an anonymous donor.

The campus's newest building, which can accommodate as many as 1,200 students per hour, features four auditorium lecture rooms, 10 50-seat lecture rooms, three 45-seat lecture rooms and a state-of-the-art conference facility. It is designed for use with the latest in wireless technology, allowing students throughout the building to directly access e-mail, the Internet and presentations by course instructors.

&#8220The family is delighted to have Fran's memory honored in this beautiful building,” Branum said.