University remembers alumna Laura M. Harrison

News Editor Karah Wilson

Alumna and benefactor Laura M. Harrison died Sept. 27 at her home in Cincinnati, OH.

Harrison and her husband Donald provided numerous donations to the university, including the Harrison Plaza dedication in 2002 and the Laura M. Harrison Professor of English Endowment and the Laura M. Harrison Endowed Scholarship Fund. Harrison served as a member of the foundation board of directors from 1995 to 2010.

Harrison graduated from former Florence State Teachers College in 1955 with a Bachelor of Science degree.

“Laura Harrison always wanted the best for the University of North Alabama, and she contributed to that through gifts that truly have made our campus significantly better,” said UNA President Kenneth Kitts. “The fountain, named in her honor, is the most visible of these gifts. But she also established scholarships for students, which will impact people for a lifetime because they originated as endowments.”

Harrison said when making the contribution to the university was an act of appreciation for the education the institution gave her to help prepare her to obtain and enjoy the rewards which her and her husband have shared together.

“The plaza and entrance will be a focal point of beauty for the campus,” Harrison said in midst of the dedication. “It will draw students, friends and visitors to feel invited into the campus. My love of gardens and the outdoors and hence, the construction of the plaza, offers me an opportunity to share the support of the university in its effort to educate students for the future.”

During the campaign kick-off for the fountain, Harrison said the university has been a beacon for thousands and a home away for home for many, including herself.

“That’s why Donald and I agreed to co-chair this campaign, because we knew that many people feel just as strongly as we do about UNA,” she said.

Vice President for Advancement Deborah Shaw said this is but one of the numerous gifts made by this couple.

“Harrison and her husband provided the largest, single gift to the university in the form of $2.5 million toward the construction of the Laura M. Harrison Hall, which will house the Anderson College of Nursing,” Shaw said.

The announcement for the building during the Build the Pride campaign in Spring 2016. Harrison and her husband commemorated the occasion where the donation was announced.

Kitts said the gifts from the Harrisons and Andersons are monumental for the university and for nursing.

Harrison and her husband attended the first Light the Fountain the same year to turn on the water and lights to kick off the tradition, according to the Spring 2016 UNA Magazine.

“We think our nursing program is the best in the state and one of the best in the country, and our facilities should reflect that,” Harrison’s husband said. “Our gift will go toward a state-of-the-art facility with equipped classrooms and modern laboratories. Harrison Hall will allow our faculty members and students to receive the finest training possible so that when they leave and conquer the world, they’ll be bringing a little bit of UNA with them.”