Herman Russell Branson, physicist and president of two colleges, was born in Pocahontas, Virginia. Branson earned his Bachelor of Science degree summa cum laude from Virginia State College in 1936 and his Ph.D in physics from the University of Cincinnati in 1939.
He joined Howard University in 1941 and remained there for 27 years, eventually becoming the head of the Physics Department, director of a program in experimental science and mathematics, and working on the Office of Naval Research and Atomic Energy Commission Projects in Physics.
Branson served as president of Central State University from 1968 to 1970 and president of Lincoln University from 1970 until his retirement in 1985. He was active in increasing federal funding for higher education and helped found the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education in 1969.
Branson died June 7, 1995.