Centre has golden year for giving and the Colonels Club
When it comes to giving, 2012 is a golden year for Centre: the Colonels Club is marking its fiftieth anniversary and for three consecutive years, giving rates for alumni, parents and members of the senior class have exceeded 50 percent.
Centre alumni have been generous in giving back to their alma mater for decades, and giving rates to the College continue to rank among the best in the nation.
“In the US News report on alumni participation, which averaged alumni giving rates from 2009-10 and 2010-11, Centre is reported as having 55 percent giving,” says Shawn Lyons ’81, associate vice president for development and alumni affairs. “Nobody in the country had a rate above 60 percent and we were tied for fifth-best.”
Gifts to the College are particularly important and impressive in light of the economic recession, which has dealt a blow to other schools across the country.
“For institutions of all sizes, public and private, the national average for alumni giving last year was 9.8 percent,” says Richard Trollinger, vice president for college relations. “Centre alumni remain among the most loyal in the country. Attachment and loyalty still mean something at a place like Centre, but increasingly, they don’t elsewhere.”
Many who give to Centre are members of the Colonels Club, which means they give between $100-$1000 annually to the College. Founded in 1962, the Colonels Club was a new way for people to give to Centre—and since its inception, it has grown from 182 original members to almost 3,200 last year.
“Fifty-nine percent of the folks who make a gift to Centre are Colonels or Associates [who give over $1,000],” Lyons says. “That’s an extraordinarily high percentage of donors.”
In the fifty years since its inception, the Colonels Club has played a large role in the growth and continued success of Centre College.
“The progress of this institution has been tremendous looking back over five decades. The 182 people in the Colonels Club in 1962-63 have made possible so many of the things we take for granted today—and we all have an obligation to pay it forward,” says Trollinger. “Whether you call it ‘paying forward’ or ‘giving back,’ each of us has an obligation to support the institutions that have had a positive impact on our lives.”
Lyons agrees, emphasizing that members of the Colonels Club are a particular help to the College in meeting the financial aid needs of students who qualify for need-based aid—two-thirds of the Centre student body.
“One of the things that is different now than at the time the Colonels Club was created was that one-third of students received need-based financial aid. There were no merit scholarships at that time—every dollar the College could put into financial aid went towards helping students who needed it to attend,” he says. “Now the cost of education as a percentage of family income has skyrocketed—and we have two-thirds of students on need-based financial aid. There’s no way we could do that without this kind of support from alumni, parents and others.
“An important part of the Centre story and the Colonels Club story is that it’s allowed us to remain, in terms of who we reach, more like the college we were in the 1960s than most of our peers,” Lyons continues. “Centre is still a place where students of moderate means can come for a top-flight education.”
There will be a celebration of the golden anniversary of the Colonels Club at the Donor Recognition Dinner at Homecoming this fall, with several original members of the Colonels Club in attendance.
Gifts from alumni, parents and other friends of the College—in the Colonels Club or otherwise—are essential to Centre remaining an institution of high achievement, as well as to the future improvement of the College.
“Centre has a dual commitment to be a place of academic excellence and a place that continues to provide access to opportunity for low and moderate income families. We depend on gifts to fuel both operations and progress,” Trollinger says. “What the Colonels Club has brought in the way of financial support to Centre over the past five decades and the strength and standing of the institution today go hand in hand.”