(From the News & Observer)
Mark La Branche came to Louisburg College at a dark time - the college was on academic probation and in debt...But La Branche figured the college had survived worse. In 1929, he notes, its main building was burned to the ground, its rebuilding delayed by the Great Depression. During the Civil War, the campus was taken over by Union troops and turned into an infirmary.
"You have to put things in perspective," he says. "I think that our mission is important, and it will survive."
In the six years La Branche has been president, the Methodist college has experienced an impressive turnaround, one that many credit to La Branche's leadership and steady demeanor...
...Thanks to this renaissance and his other community work, La Branche was named this year's Citizen of the Year by the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce.
Lucy Allen, a college trustee and former Louisburg mayor, says La Branche had all the characteristics needed to do a difficult job.
"He had the temperament, the determination and the skills that were needed," says Allen, who also represented her district in the General Assembly.
"It's hard to take a ship that's foundering and right it, but he's turned this ship in a new direction..."