CSU Foundation Properties gifts Brown Hall to University System of Georgia
September 9, 2021
Today, CSU Foundation Properties Inc.—the charitable property arm that manages and maintains real estate holdings for Columbus State University’s benefit—gifted Frank D. Brown Hall to the University System of Georgia. This transfer of the home of the College of Education and Health Professions and a cornerstone of CSU’s RiverPark campus represents the support of hundreds of alumni and community donors who made acquiring and remodeling the historic building possible.
Through donations from individual and corporate donors, CSU Foundation Properties acquires real estate holdings, which it then makes available to the university for its use. When the time is right—usually when the foundation settles all remodeling, mortgage or related expenses—facilities like Brown Hall are gifted to the State of Georgia. Third-party rentals, as well as targeted investments by the CSU Foundation Inc. and the CSU Foundation Properties Inc., have further sustained these academic, residential and artistic spaces comprising the university’s downtown campus.
“Columbus State strives to be a reflection of the community we call home—the community whose name appears on the degrees of every one of our graduates,” CSU President Chris Markwood said. “Frank Brown Hall reflects our community’s support and generosity, and the vision for a world-class education, a thriving workforce and a booming economy we share with our Chattahoochee Valley partners and neighbors.”
The 109,000 square-foot building at Broadway and 12th Avenue is home to CSU’s College of Education and Health Professions. The foundation acquired, rehabilitated and expanded the former Columbus Ledger-Enquirer building through $22.6 million in gifts and pledges it received during its First Choice Campaign. The comprehensive fundraising campaign raised more than $120 million to support CSU by its conclusion in 2018.
CSU dedicated the building in January 2017 and named it in honor of Dr. Frank D. Brown, who retired as CSU’s third president in 2008. It was during Brown’s two decades as CSU president that the university established and grew its downtown RiverPark presence.
“It is truly a mix of coordinated beauty and functionality,” Brown told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer at the time of the building’s dedication. “I was blown away by the health sciences portion. You have hospital-like situation rooms that will offer the best of classroom instruction.”
Despite some noticeable renovations and additions, the university was committed to preserving the hallmarks of the historic, two-story, Mediterranean-style building that has graced Uptown Columbus for 90-plus years.
“Remaining entwined with the fabric and history of the Columbus community is important to all of us at Columbus State,” explained Rocky Kettering, vice president for advancement. “Our RiverPark Campus is a prime example of that. Our roots reflect that of Columbus’ growth from a mill town to a boom town.”
CSU’s RiverPark campus, established in 2001, is credited with contributing to the revitalization of the Uptown Columbus sector. Its three-quarters of a million gross square feet of teaching, performance and outreach space have been funded through the charitable support of alumni, friends and community partners—most especially the W.C. Bradley Co.
“What Frank Brown Hall—and the entire RiverPark Campus—is today is due in large part to how W.C. Bradley Co. and the Bradley-Turner Foundation have embraced, adopted and supported our vision for our RiverPark campus specifically and our academics as a whole,” Markwood said.
“It is not everyday that a public university and its philanthropic foundation gift a facility like Frank Brown Hall to the state,” he continued. “It is usually the other way around—a university asking the state for a building. The Columbus community should be proud of this gift and what it represents: dreaming big and then working together to make that dream a reality.”
Today, Frank Brown Hall serves more than 2,540 undergraduate and graduate students—30% of CSU’s total enrollment. Among the college’s outstanding programs is its Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, which is the university’s most popular major. Its Family Nurse Practitioner, Elementary Education and Kinesiology programs also appear among CSU’s top-10 list. The strength of its teacher education programs is evidenced by the Muscogee County School District’s guaranteed teaching contract for every qualified CSU teacher education graduate through this first-of-its-kind partnership in the state.
Under Brown’s leadership, CSU grew from a small college of about 4,000 students to a regional university of 8,000-plus students. His commitment to forming community partnerships, securing private donations, and enhancing the university’s academic offerings and facilities all contributed to the changing perception of the university’s influence on educational, workforce and economic growth.
“The deep, meaningful and mutually productive partnerships Dr. Brown established more than a decade ago continue to benefit Columbus State University,” said Teddie Ussery, who leads the 61-member CSU Foundation Board of Trustees. “The foundations he established and upon which we continue to build promise to endure for the benefit of our students and our community.”