Feature Stories Campus Events All Stories

Alumni and Friends Endow Scholarship to Honor Long-time Staff Member The gifts honor Elizabeth Outland Branner and her 25 years of service to the School of Law.

branner1-800x533 Alumni and Friends Endow Scholarship to Honor Long-time Staff MemberDean Melanie Wilson surprises Elizabeth Branner with an endowed scholarship to honor her service to the law school.

During the spring Law Council meeting and Reunion Weekend held April 12-14, Dean Melanie Wilson announced the creation of the Elizabeth Outland Branner Scholarship Endowment. Alumni and friends contributed over $125,000 to endow a student scholarship to honor Branner, who is retiring this year after a distinguished career overseeing fundraising and alumni engagement at the School of Law.

Branner joined the Law School in 1999 as assistant director of Law School Relations, and led the Law Advancement office since 2008 as the assistant dean for law school advancement. During her tenure, she oversaw significant growth in annual giving and the law school endowment. Beyond that, her reputation within the law alumni community contributed greatly to the success of the admissions and career offices. As Dean Wilson said in her message announcing Elizabeth’s decision to retire, “she knows everyone, and they all love her.”

Ten lead donors formed the endowment and were joined by several others who contributed to the scholarship fund. The toughest part was keeping the gift secret from Branner, who maintains a close eye on all law school business.

Among the lead donors was Greg Stillman ‘74L, who first met Branner more than twenty years ago. “No one has meant more to the alumni connection to our law school than Elizabeth,” said Stillman. “This recognition has been earned many times over. Her legacy will live on for generations.”

Pam White ‘77L, former W&L Trustee, recalled scrolling through hundreds of email exchanges from Branner over the years to gain a measure of her impact. “It becomes apparent that Elizabeth has been the glue to keep many alumni well-connected and well-informed about W&L Law’s challenges and successes,” said White.

Alumni and friends interested in contributing to the Elizabeth Outland Branner Scholarship Endowment should contact Sarah Hughes at shughes@wlu.edu or 540.458.8191.

“The secret is now out, and we expect that many of our alumni and supporters who have known Elizabeth for years, if not decades, will want to make a gift in her honor,” said Hughes, the new assistant dean for law school advancement.

Praise for Elizabeth Branner

We asked some of the lead donors to explain what Elizabeth’s tenure has meant for them and the school. Below are some responses.

“Elizabeth has been an integral part of the leadership of the Law School for over two decades. She has worked with several Deans and in times of changing market environments. Her leadership over the years, through many transitions, has been critical to the success of the Law School. Elizabeth has earned the respect of the community, particularly Law alumni, through her dedication to the success of the Law School, her tenacity, authenticity, and friendship. We are forever grateful to Elizabeth, and wish her the best for years to come. – Laurie Rachford ‘84L, Trustee

Elizabeth Branner has been a wonderful bridge between the law school and law school alumni. She cares about both a great deal. Her passion is infectious and why you feel like you would be letting her down if you don’t go that extra mile for the law school with your time or financial resources. She will be missed by the W&L community. – William Toles ’92, ‘95L, Trustee

“Elizabeth Branner is the reason that I have stayed so connected to the Law School. Her commitment to the school (and to all of the alumni!) brings so many people together and allows us to all support the school we love. We have been so lucky to have her for all these years and I wish her all the best in retirement. She will be missed – but she will forever be a part of all of us!” – Kristen Ray ‘96L, former President of the Law Council.

“I have so many recollections of Elizabeth and the Law School. My most favorite is her making it possible for my father to introduce me to the Court during the 2000 W&L Alumni Swearing-in trip to the SCOTUS. She also helped get my then teenage nephews in with us. I have little doubt that experience played a role in Tyler Hannah’s decision to attend W&L. Elizabeth makes working miracles look easy.” – Nan Hannah ‘93L, Law Council Member

A Note to Elizabeth Branner from Stu Nibley ’75, ‘79L:

“Elizabeth, my wife, Liz, and I, love you. I am so grateful for the relationship I have been able to maintain with you in your role as Director of Development for the Law School, and simply as a friend. I am certain that I would not have maintained my continuous and robust relationship and support for the Law School, or the University as a whole, had I not had the privilege of interacting directly with you. You have been the constant, the stabilizer, through changes in administration, faculty, student body, and even in a number of cultural changes to the University environment. To borrow a quote from Reggie Jackson, Mr. October for the New York Yankees: ‘You are, Elizabeth, the straw that stirs the drink!’ I am at my 45th law class reunion right now, and I can say that it takes an extraordinary person, and personality, to be able to extract promises from people to donate quantities of money that sting a little bit, at the same time leading those same people to love you genuinely. You are one in a million, Elizabeth.”

IMG_8816-600x400 Alumni and Friends Endow Scholarship to Honor Long-time Staff MemberElizabeth Branner and Stu Nibley ’75, ’79L

If you know a W&L member who has done great, accolade-worthy things, tell us about them! Nominate them for an accolade.