The hors d’oeuvres got soaked but not the spirits at Dalton State College Thursday afternoon. A brief but heavy downpour hit the campus just as officials prepared to formally name the college bell tower after former college president Jim Burran.
With the sound of the rain on the tent drowning out all voices, Burran joked that he might just have to pass his speech around to members of the audience instead of delivering it.
“With all of the drama we’ve had today, I don’t know what I can do to follow up,” he said after the rain faded and he did get to speak.
Burran gave credit to the faculty, staff and students at the college.
“No college or university can really grow and prosper without a group of people willing to come together and work to achieve a common goal,” he said. “It is with humility and gratitude that I thank you for this honor, but I do so on behalf of all those others who really made the difference.”
About 100 students, faculty, local officials and others came out to honor Burran.
Jim Jolly, a member of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, gave Burran credit for leading Dalton State from a two-year institution to a four-year college.
Burran served as president from 1995 to 2008. During that time, the college not only started its first bachelor’s degree program, it created a total of 10 four-year degree programs.
Jolly also noted the college’s enrollment grew from about 3,000 to more than 4,500.
“During Jim’s time here, he really made Dalton State the center and focus of this community,” Jolly said.
David Elrod, DSC’s director of institutional advancement, noted that Burran worked with the DSC Foundation to expand its assets from about $2.3 million to $30.1 million.
In particular, he said, the Fulfilling the Vision Campaign, which ran from 2006 to 2008, raised around $21 million and helped fund the bell tower as well as create the campus quadrangle around the bell tower.
“It dramatically changed the center of campus,” he said. “That was the brainchild of Jim Burran.”
The tower, which features a 25-bell carillon, was completed in 2009.
Dalton State College President John O. Schwenn noted that naming a building or other structure after someone is the highest honor a college can bestow.
“It doesn’t happen very often, and the process is not very simple. Lots of contemplation and lots of thought go into it, plus the University System of Georgia Board of Regents must also approve the naming,” Schwenn said. “But naming the bell tower after Jim Burran was easy because all of us wanted to honor his outstanding presidency.”