Centre Trustees discuss record-level enrollment, annual giving at fall 2013 meeting
Centre College’s first Board of Trustees meeting of the 2013-14 academic year was marked with news of record achievements in such areas as enrollment, campus diversity and annual giving, all pointing to Centre’s profile as a top-ranked national liberal arts college. The Board met on the College’s campus Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, the opening of Centre’s Homecoming weekend.
Bob Nesmith, dean of admission and student financial planning, reported record student enrollment (1,381) for fall 2013, as Centre welcomed its largest-ever incoming class—377 first-year students who are among the strongest academically in the College’s history.
The Class of 2017 also represents the most geographically and racially diverse class ever enrolled at Centre, with 47 percent of students coming from outside Kentucky and more than 20 percent identifying as students of color. Twenty-three new international students also contributed to the campus’ growing geographic diversity, with China remaining Centre’s strongest area of international recruitment.
Stephanie Fabritius, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College, added to Nesmith’s discussion on record student numbers, reporting that retention rates remain at an all-time high, with 90 percent retention among first-year students.
With enrollment on the rise—ahead of pace to reach Centre’s strategic goal of 1,425 students by 2016—she also pointed to modest growth in the size of the faculty to help maintain the College’s attention to personal education.
In addition, Fabritius shared that the College’s study abroad program—currently ranked #1 in the nation—continues to thrive, with students participating in seven semester-abroad programs this fall. Of specific note is Centre’s Shanghai program, featuring a newly added location at Tongji University, as well as the College’s strengthened Japanese exchange program, now in its 15th year.
Adding to Centre’s status as a national leader in international education, Fabritius reported an anonymous $1 million endowment gift dedicated to international language study for students and faculty. Among other reports of funding to support experiential learning and faculty initiatives, Fabritius announced a $600,00 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for undergraduate research in humanities and social studies, in addition to $500,000 from the James Graham Brown Foundation for undergraduate research, community-based learning and academic internships.
Vice President for College Relations Richard Trollinger shared news about the record-breaking annual giving results, which exceeded $2 million for the first time in the College’s history. These gifts and grants are among a total of $17,854,083 received in fiscal 2013. Two of Centre’s giving societies, the Colonels Club and Centre Associates, boasted record membership this year as well. With both parent and alumni giving rates holding strong at 49 percent, Trollinger reported that the College is poised for another successful year of annual giving.
Again this year, Centre alumni enjoy the title “Happiest Graduates in the Nation,” as reported in the 2013 Alumni Factor guidebook. Trollinger credits an ambitious event schedule with continuing to engage alumni, including Centre’s Alumni College, led on campus this past June by H.W. Stodghill Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill Professor of Art Stephen Rolfe Powell. Three new alumni travel opportunities to Holland, Spain and the Bahamas are also scheduled.
Robert L. Keasler Jr., vice president for finance and treasurer, reported that the College maintains a strong financial position. He also provided an overview of campus improvements, including the completion of the Buchanan Memorial Outdoor Classroom, among other facility enhancement projects.
Randy Hays, vice president and dean of student life, continued the conversation of campus facilities, announcing the purchase of property on nearby Fifth Street to accommodate the increase in student enrollment.
During the Board’s plenary session, Special Assistant to the President and Chief Planning Officer Clarence Wyatt was joined by Thomas C. Longin, a consultant, former provost, and past vice president for programs and research for the Association of Governing Boards, to report on recent efforts to re-focus Centre’s strategic plan. Dedicated research and formal campus sessions have guided an ongoing examination of the goals and priorities of the College, culminating in a five-year strategy to be finalized over the coming months.
In other business, two new officers of the Board were elected: Randal B. Kell ’69, chairman, and Mark E. Nunnelly ’80, vice chairman. James D. Rouse ’62 was re-elected as secretary.
The Board also voted to approve sabbatical leaves for 10 faculty members, in addition to eight new student scholarships.
The next meeting of the Centre College Board of Trustees is scheduled for Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, 2014, in Louisville.
By Amy Wise