Published on January 13, 2009 by William Nunnelley  
Posted by William Nunnelley on 2009-09-28


Ben F. Harrison, a longtime supporter of Samford University for whom the school’s theatre is named, died Saturday, Sept. 26, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.


Harrison was a Birmingham business leader who served 37 years on the Samford Board of Trustees, beginning in 1971.  He was vice chairman of the board and chairman of the executive committee for two years (1990-1992), and also served as chair of its business affairs committee (1985) and investment committee (1994-1995).


He joined then-President Thomas Corts and trustee Ben Brown and their wives in identifying the property that became Samford’s London Study Centre in 1984.  The property, now known as Daniel House, was one of 14 sites the group visited.


Samford’s Ben F. Harrison Theatre was named in his honor in 1987.


Harrison, from Greenville, Ala., was the former chief executive officer of U.S. Pipe and of U.S. Home.  He later served as chairman of the board and president of Harrison Industries, Inc., a diversified company he formed in 1976.


Harrison was a tank driver with the U.S. Army during World War II, serving in the Philippines.  He attended the University of Alabama under the G.I. Bill after the war and earned his accounting degree in two and a half years.   


“ As a stalwart friend of Samford, Ben Harrison played a significant role in many of the important developments in the life of the institution over the past three decades,” said Samford President Andrew Westmoreland.  “He was a visionary leader with a deep commitment to our academic program. Along with members of the Harrison family, we mourn the loss.”
Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.