March 2, 2017
Dr. Mark La Branche, Louisburg College’s president, will leave his job in June to assume the presidency of Martin Methodist College, a small, private four-year institution in Pulaski, Tenn.
Dr. La Branche, who has led Louisburg College since January 2009, has overseen its transformation and has been an active church and community leader. On July 1, he takes over the helm of Martin Methodist, a liberal arts college in Southern Middle Tennessee founded in 1870 that offers associate, baccalaureate and master’s degrees.
Mike Boddie, chairman of Louisburg College’s Board of Trustees, said the trustees are “grateful to Mark for the fine leadership he has given to Louisburg College.”
“It’s been transformational,” he said. “We congratulate him on his new appointment and are confident we will be successful in attracting another great leader to take the college into the next decade.”
When Dr. La Branche arrived in Louisburg, the college – the oldest private two-year college in the nation -- was experiencing extreme financial difficulties, was on probation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and had a great deal of deferred maintenance.
In the past eight years, the college has seen increased enrollment and higher grade-point averages from students. A five-year capital campaign begun in 2010 with a goal of $15 million brought $18.8 million, and Louisburg College has spent more than $9 million in campus improvements. In its recent decennial reaffirmation process with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Louisburg was reaffirmed through 2026 with no recommendations or further monitoring.
In 2016, the Community College Survey of Student Engagement showed that Louisburg College exceeded or was comparable to the top-performing schools nationally in student-faculty interaction, active and collaborative learning, student effort, academic challenge, and support for learners. The college is celebrating its 230th anniversary this year.
Dr. La Branche and his wife, Mona, live in downtown Louisburg and have been active in civic life since they arrived from Huntingdon College in Alabama. Mona La Branche has served as president of the Louisburg Historic District Neighborhood Association. They are members of Louisburg United Methodist Church, where Mark La Branche is stewardship chairman. He has been involved in efforts to revitalize downtown Louisburg, served as board president of the United Way in Franklin County, was on the board of the Franklin County Regional Medical Center and president of the Lion’s Club. In 2014, the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce named Dr. La Branche Citizen of the Year, and the Raleigh News & Observer honored him as a Tar Heel of the Week.
“Mona and I are grateful for our time here. We have come to love the college and community and will carry both in our hearts forever,” Dr. La Branche said. “We are looking forward to a new challenge as we join the family of Martin Methodist College.”
Boddie, Louisburg’s trustee chairman, said the board will appoint a committee to begin a national search for Louisburg College’s next leader.