Traditionally, area country clubs are closed on Mondays. But for those rare, special occasions, they open, and such an event was the Center for BrainHealth‘s Legacy Award Dinner on Monday, November 14, Dallas Country Club. It was a gathering of the area’s top-tier bold-facing brainiacs to honor Rep. Dan Branch. Here is a report from the field:
Four generations of Texas’ illustrious Branch family, including gracious matriarch Sylvia Branch and her precious two-month old great granddaughter, Waverly Branch, along with more than 250 guests convened at the Dallas Country Club on Monday, November 14.
Under the auspices of witnessing Rep. Dan Branch receive the Center for BrainHealth at UT Dallas’ highest honor, the Legacy Award, the virtual family reunion attracted a philanthropic and political who’s who including Margaret McDermott, Toni Pickens, Rep. Morgan Meyer and Keana, former Lieutenant Governor of Texas David Dewhurst, former Rep. Bill Ceverha and his wife Mary, UT System top brass Melissa Jackson and UT Dallas executive vice president and provost Dr. Hobson Wildenthal. Other guests included Emy Lou and Jerry Baldridge, Marla and Mike Boone, Jennifer and Coley Clark, Kathy and Harlan Crow, Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones, Heather and Ray Washburne, Gail and Gerald Turner, Sally Hoglund with daughter Kelly Compton, Pat and Charles McEvoy, Janie and Cappy McGarr, Shelle and Michael Sills and Lee Ann and Alan White.
The vibrant Shelly Slater of WFAA Channel 8 emceed the annual event that honors an individual whose vision and dedication enables the Center for BrainHealth and its Brain Performance Institute to empower people of all ages to unlock their brain potential.
As a state representative from Dallas and chairman of the Texas House Committee on Higher Education, Rep. Branch authored House Bill 51, the “Tier One universities” law. This landmark legislation encouraged private giving to public emerging research universities, including UT Dallas, by matching private gifts with state funds. Since 2009, gifts, appropriations and National Research University Fund distributions represent a total investment in Texas emerging research universities of $770 million.
It is worth noting that a love for brains runs in the Branch family. Dan Branch’s late father, renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Charles L. Branch, was a pioneer in the field of neuroscience and donated a cache of artifacts to the Center chronicling the history of neurosurgery. BrainHealth honors Dr. Branch each year, presenting the Charles L. Branch BrainHealth Award for “unparalleled breakthroughs in brain research” to a deserving brain research scientist or physician.
After honorary co-chair James Huffines recognized distinguished audience members, Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus, who was detained by official business in Austin, kicked off the evening with a warm video welcome. He conveyed congratulations to his friend that he has known since they were kids. “And if you wonder how long that has been,” said Hon. Straus. “I will simply point out that Dan is now a grandfather.”
During an energetic tribute video, long-time friend of Dan Branch, Harlan Crow, expressed how easy it is to like Dan and incredibly difficult to dislike him.
The University of Texas System Deputy Chancellor Dr. David Daniel, who was President of The University of Texas at Dallas when the Tier One legislation took effect, said, “The Tier One legislation may well be the most important, transformative and wildly successful legislation in Texas relative to public higher education in our lifetime.”
Center for BrainHealth Founder/Chief Director and Dee Wyly Distinguished University Chair at The University of Texas at Dallas Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman presented Rep. Branch with the crystal Legacy plaque. “Dan Branch’s efforts have helped elevate the cause of brain health to the forefront of discussions not only in Texas but nationwide,” she said. “Because of his legislative work, we have been able to attract top talent from around the world to grow our research team and continue to make meaningful scientific discoveries that improve lives today.”
In regards to the outpouring of high praise during the evening, Rep. Branch playfully bantered, “Typically when people say nice things about me, I like to say that I wish that my mother could hear that. Well, tonight she did!”
Dan Branch’s magnanimous acceptance speech epitomized his priorities, expressing his passion for understanding and delivering on his constituents’ needs and above all honoring his family. He identified each family member individually, lingering especially on his dedicated wife, Stacey, of 32 years whom he gave much credit for being his inspiration and the foundation of their family.
Patty and James Huffines were the honorary chairs of the event and Robin and Eric Bennett were the dinner chairs. The host committee included: Lana and Barry Andrews, Sue and Pryor Blackwell, Marla and Mike Boone, Debbie and Jim Francis, Lynn and Allan McBee, Carolyn and Karl Rathjen, Jane and Bud Smith and Gayle and Paul Stoffel.
Past BrainHealth Legacy Award recipients include Dianne Cash, Debbie Francis, T. Boone Pickens, James Huffines, Dee Wyly, Daryl Johnston and Lee Roy Jordan, Jane and Bud Smith and Clint Bruce.
Major donors at the Center for BrainHealth Legacy Award Dinner included:
- Al G. Hill, Jr.
- Carolyn and David Miller and The David B. Miller Family Foundation
- Toni and T. Boone Pickens
- Emy Lou and Jerry Baldridge/Nancy Dedman /Jane and Bud Smith
- Sylvia L. Branch Family
- Lisa and Clay Cooley
- Suzanne and Moshe Azoulay
- Colleen Barrett
- Sue and Pryor Blackwell/Carolyn and Karl Rathjen, MD
- Marla and Mike Boone
- Teresa and David Disiere
- Cindy and Pat Fox
- Debbie and Jim Francis
- Highland Capital Management
- PlainsCapital Bank
- Gail and Bill Plummer
- Sapphire Foundation
- Lisa and Kenny Troutt
- Winstead PC
- Julie and John Young
ABOUT THE CENTER FOR BRAINHEALTH®
The Center for BrainHealth®, part of The University of Texas at Dallas, is a research institute committed to enhancing, protecting and restoring brain health across the lifespan. Scientific exploration at the Center for BrainHealth is leading edge, improving lives today and translating groundbreaking discoveries into practical clinical application. By delivering science-based innovations that enhance how people think, work, and live, the Center and its Brain Performance Institute™ are empowering people of all ages to unlock their brain potential. Major research areas include the use of functional and structural neuroimaging techniques to better understand the neurobiology supporting cognition and emotion in health and disease.
* Photo credit: Melissa Macatee