Centre Trustees review a year of success, promising trends in admission and giving at annual winter meeting
The winter meeting of the Centre College Board of Trustees celebrated the achievements of 2013 and a promising forecast for the coming year, with early indications of continued success in student recruitment, annual giving and a winning athletic program. The Board met Jan. 31 to Feb. 1 at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville.
Tim Seiler, director of The Fund Raising School at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and assistant professor of philanthropic studies, spoke at the Board’s opening luncheon. Recognizing the nation’s gradual recovery from the recession, Seiler provided an overview of the state of American philanthropy, specifically focusing on giving in support of higher education.
According to Vice President for College Relations Richard Trollinger, annual giving at Centre College remains strong. Trollinger projects a successful year in fundraising, with mid-fiscal year gifts totaling just shy of $10 million from nearly 4,500 donors in support of the College’s operating budget and endowment. Trollinger cited the College’s newly established athletic giving societies in addition to other dedicated campaigns as key drivers for Centre’s solid giving participation rate.
Bob Nesmith, dean of admission and student financial planning, reported early success in application trends, revealing an increase in both quantity and quality of applicants over the same time last year. Notably, international applications are up 38 percent, while in-state applicants also show a modest increase. Additionally, Nesmith reported a 22 percent surge in the number of prospective students visiting campus, among other positive indicators, as the College moves into the final stages of the annual recruitment cycle.
Michael Strysick, director of communications, provided the trustees with an update on the successful January 6, 2014, launch of the College’s new website. Built in-house with responsive web design technology, the site renders similarly on mobile and laptop devices and better incorporates current social media channels.
Stephanie Fabritius, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College, reported on several key areas of student and faculty academic interests, including the implementation of two grants (James Graham Brown Foundation and Mellon) that together will enhance engaged experiential learning. Specifically, these grants encourage and support collaborative and mentored undergraduate research, community-based learning courses and academic internships. First steps have included the hiring of a new Coordinator of Engaged and Experiential Learning who will be housed within the Center for Teaching and Learning.
Fabritius also pointed to developments within Career Services, including the search for a new director as well as work to develop a strategic plan that will further enhance the Centre Futures program. Additionally, Fabritius led a plenary session on the Centre faculty experience and in a later meeting reported with Vice President for Finance Bob Keasler on faculty and staff salaries.
Beyond campus, Fabritius acknowledged Centre’s thriving international studies, citing the 190 students who traveled abroad for specialized classes or internships during January’s CentreTerm. Adding to the list of off-campus residential experiences within the United States, the College announced the addition of a new program in Chicago approved to begin fall 2014.
Grant seeking also proved successful in recent months, with eight faculty advancement awards approved from the Associated Colleges of the South, collectively totaling just under $70,000.
Randy Hays, vice president and dean of student life, along with Director of Athletics and Recreation Brad Fields, reported news of continued athletic success, with Centre holding a commanding first-place lead in the Southern Athletics Association (SAA) Presidents competition. The Colonels fared well during the fall 2013 season, with field hockey, women’s soccer, and men’s and women’s cross country all capturing SAA championships, and volleyball finishing second. In the cup race for the National Association of College Directors of Athletics, Centre is ranked #26, landing the College in the top 6 percent in the nation among more than 440 NCAA Division III institutions.
In other student life news, Hays announced preparations for the arrival of the Governor’s School for the Arts, set to debut on Centre’s campus June 22 to July 12, 2014.
Special Assistant to the President and Chief Planning Officer Clarence Wyatt led a review of draft revisions to the College’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, the College announced that David Ray, Class of 1959, and Stephen Dexter, Class of 2004, are the Associate and Young Associate of the Year, respectively. The two were recognized at the 2014 Associates Dinner at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville.
The next meeting of the Centre College Board of Trustees is scheduled for April 10-11, 2014, on Centre’s campus.
by Amy Clark Wise