Story by Timothy Cox
Having reached his 36th birthday in September, Brandon Pendarvis Brown is a testament to the old adage that age is just a number, based on the many accomplishments Brown has garnered in such a relatively short period. He’s about to add one more accolade to the long list of achievements. In good company, Brown along with CNN Anchor Soledad O’Brien and other distinguished individuals will receive the national Legacy Award for outstanding service to higher education during the UNCF NAC/PAC Leadership Conference, Friday, February 3, 2012 in Orlando, Florida. The Conference, held annually, features college presidents, educators, alumni, students and philanthropists who gather to learn how to better render support to UNCF institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
When the South Carolina native was named Vice President of Institutional Advancement at Paine College in 2008, the job appointment could have been hypothetically titled, “The Return,” if speaking of Brown’s matriculation where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in History in 2000. He would later go on to earn a Master’s degree in Human Resources from Webster University of St. Louis.
For Brown, the Paine experience is personal and significant, considering that he is following the legacy footsteps of his father, Bennie F. Brown Jr., a chemistry major who graduated from Paine College in 1969. The older Brown would go on to enjoy a successful career as a high school math and science teacher, in addition to continuing the family funeral home business in the Brown homestead of Greenville, S.C. The Browns are also proprietors of Brown Rentals and Properties. The younger Brown has also provided his expertise to ensure both family businesses have continued to remain viable.
Brown says he is honored to have the opportunity to return to his alma mater. “It’s a special privilege to work with Dr. Bradley to move my alma mater forward,” he said. Dr. George Cleveland Bradley was named President of Paine College in October 2007.
As Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Brown is charged with raising in excess of $14 million for the institution’s Health Education Activities Learning Complex (HEAL), which is currently under construction on the Paine campus. The new facility will in part replace the historic Randall A. Carter Gymnasium which has been part of the Paine campus for the past 60 years. “The HEAL will also include classrooms, laboratories and a 2,400-seat arena with new amenities Paine athletes have gone without for way too long,” Brown said
He is responsible for fostering scholarships, endowments, furthering the institution’s strategic plan and helping to move the Campus Master Plan forward. Of particular note, the College has witnessed an upsurge in capital improvements and support.
Fundraising and friend raising are comfort zones for Brown, considering his 2006 experience as State Deputy Political Director for Senator Joe Biden’s Presidential campaign. Biden would go on to become Vice President of the United States in President Barack Obama’s administration. Brown continues to cherish a warm relationship with VP Biden and his staff.
Brown’s commitment to making higher education accessible to students is unparallel. He served as a recruitment officer at Claflin University, Orangeburg, SC for 3 years and went on to create the Greenville HBCU Basketball Classic in 2003. The HBCU Classic was one of a kind in the Upstate and is credited with spurring enrollment at several HBCUs throughout the country. Later, in 2004, he founded the HBCU Football Classic in the Upstate and brought the Battle of the Bands to half-time that was a sidebar to the College Fairs and Recruiting sessions that were forefront.
Brown comments that the Greenville HBCU sports classics were born out of his desire to make College affordable and accessible to his community. “I wanted to give young people access to a quality education at valuable institutions that are credited with producing many of the nation’s leaders today,” said Brown.
Having caught the political bug, Brown became the first African-American South Carolina candidate for U.S. Congress (age 28) in the Fourth Congressional District and won the Democratic nomination. Needless to say, Brown leads the Governmental Relations initiatives at Paine College and as a result, the College is witnessing an increase in federal and state funding and support.
Constantly at the forefront of social justice issues, Brown was an organizing member of the Greenville Technical College Multi-cultural Diversity Board that was formed after a senior member of the Greenville Tech Administration made insensitive statements about Katrina Evacuees. Brown contributed heavily to the healing process and went on to serve as an advocate on many fronts.
Rooted in community service, he served as Executive Director of the Allen Temple Community Development Center that catered to at-risk children; and co-founded the Upstate (S.C.) Black Family Reunion, which promotes community unity. He remains active in civic and social organizations in both Georgia and South Carolina and has served on the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce Advocacy Committee; the Augusta Symphony Board of Directors; and the Greer,
SC Hospital Advisory Board. He is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and a member of the John Wesley United Methodist Church, Greenville, SC.
The fall of 2011 marked a personal milestone in Brown’s life who had been a longtime committed bachelor. On October 29, 2011, Brown and Augusta TV news anchor/personality Kimberly Scott of WJBF-TV, exchanged marriage vows during distinguished ceremonies that attracted well-wishers from near and far.
“Obviously, this is an exciting time of my life in more ways than one,” said Brown.
“I fully believe in the vision and leadership of our president and feel absolutely certain that Paine College will continue to evoke positive changes locally and nationally -- from now and into the future.
“Frankly, I’m having the time of my life,” he added with a smile.
Helene Carter, Assistant Vice President at Paine College and long-time associate of Brown said, “I’ve watched Brandon mature into an exceptional servant leader who is committed to higher education and he’s just beginning to reap some of the benefits of his dedication to servant leadership and his conviction to social justice. He is a walking testament of the power of exercising positive vision and anyone who is in his company is inspired to reach for greatness.”