Commencement 192 by the numbers
Three hundred and twenty-seven seniors were granted degrees at Centre College’s 192nd Commencement, held on Sunday, May 24, at the Norton Center for the Arts. While that number ties as the College’s largest graduating class to date, the 2015 graduates also represent a four-year record of impressive accomplishments and countless life-changing experiences on campus and across the globe.
As we bid them farewell, here’s a final look at the class of 2015, including a roundup of interesting facts and figures from Commencement 192:
Number of graduating seniors: 327 tassels were turned during this year’s Commencement. Of the total graduates, 179 were female and 148 were male. Centre’s 55/45 female-to-male ratio represents a gender parity unusual at universities across the country and is particularly rare at liberal arts colleges.
The class of 2015 differs markedly from the graduating classes of the College’s earliest years. Centre was chartered in 1819, and its inaugural class—composed of only two graduates—were awarded degrees in 1824.
Graduation rate: With a guarantee to graduate in four years, Centre delivers on its reputation for high achievement. The four-year graduation rate for the 2015 class exceeds 80 percent, giving Centre the highest graduation rate in the state and among the highest in the nation.
Most popular majors: The top five majors for the 2015 class are 1) financial economics; 2) biology and economics (tied); 3) history, international studies and politics (tied); 4) English; and 5) anthropology/sociology.
Number of honorary degrees awarded: 2. Commencement speaker Crit Blackburn Luallen ’74, Kentucky’s 56th lieutenant governor and a Centre alumna and trustee, was granted an honorary doctor of humane letters, adding her to an alumni roster that includes 11 governors from seven states. Luallen’s ancestry also includes two 19th-century Kentucky governors, John J. Crittenden and Luke Blackburn, as well as Centre’s third president, Gideon Blackburn.
Robert T. Brockman, chair and CEO of Reynolds and Reynolds Company, a leading supplier of auto dealership management tools, also received an honorary doctor of humane letters during the Commencement ceremony. Brockman is a former chair of Centre’s board of trustees and a member of the Class of 1963.
Number of Valedictorians: 2. Maria Sullivan of Dayton, Ohio, received the Gavin Easton Wiseman Valedictorian Prize for top female graduate, and Eric Beyerle of Louisville, Ky., was awarded the George Winston Welsh Valedictorian Prize for top male graduate.
Number of students receiving honors: 84. Seven students graduated summa cum laude, 35 magna cum laude and 42 cum laude.
Number of students in Phi Beta Kappa: Thirty-six graduates were elected to Centre’s chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s oldest honor society for the liberal arts and sciences.
Number of Posse Scholars: Nine members of the Posse program crossed the stage. The New York-based Posse Foundation recruits outstanding students from urban school systems in large cities across the U.S. and places them in selective colleges and universities, where they receive full scholarships. This is the sixth class of Posse graduates, all of whom are from the Boston area.
Number of Brown Fellows: 10. This was the third class of Brown Fellows to graduate from Centre. The College partnered with the James Graham Brown Foundation to launch the Brown Fellows Program in 2009. Students selected into the program receive full-ride scholarships and additional benefits, including summer enrichment experiences. The program is the premier scholarship and enrichment initiative in Kentucky and one of the nation’s elite fellowship programs.
National awards: This year’s class included multiple national award winners, including Fulbright winner Parker Lawson of Louisville, Ky., who will spend the upcoming academic year teaching English in Spain. Lane Walker of Topeka, Kan., and Kyle Bezold of Midway, Ky., will also teach English abroad thanks to the competitive Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, sponsored by the Japanese government. Emily Stephenson of Lexington, Ky., received the Rotary District 6710 Global Grant Scholarship to study at the University of Sheffield in England.
Number of ROTC graduates: 1. Nathan Adams ’15 not only received a bachelor of arts degree in economics but also was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army Reserve.
Nations and states represented: This year’s class has members from 34 states and one foreign country: China.
Percentage of students who studied abroad: 270 graduates—83 percent of the class—studied abroad at least once during their four years at Centre, giving the College an edge in international studies with a #1 national ranking.
Hours of service by Bonner Scholars: 22,000, collectively. As part of Centre’s Bonner program, 13 senior Bonner Scholars and Leaders dedicated their four years to civic engagement and serving others in the surrounding communities and beyond.
Number of athletes: 97 student-athletes graduated, eight of whom participated in more than one sport. Throughout their four years, the senior student-athletes collectively achieved 17 NCAA team appearances, 25 SAA/SCAC team championships, 18 individual SAA/SCAC championships and five individual NCAA appearances.
Graduates whose parents attended Centre: 19 legacy students were numbered among the graduating class.
Graduates with siblings who attended or are currently enrolled at Centre: 42
Graduates with strongest Centre connections: Eleven members of Mary Rodes’ extended family have attended Centre, and graduate Ellie Graham counts nine Centre attendees among her family.
Family members and friends in attendance: 2,800. Newlin Hall held approximately 1,400 guests during the Commencement ceremony. A simulcast of the ceremony held in Centre’s Alumni Gymnasium was attended by approximately 1,250 additional guests. The simulcast in Weisiger Theatre held 200.
Number of people fed: 2,850. Sodexo Dining Services fed approximately 1,300 guests at the Family Picnic on Saturday and another 1,550 guests at the Sunday Luncheon.
After graduation: Centre graduates cross the stage career ready, with 95 percent of last year’s class employed or pursing advanced study within 10 months of graduation. The class of 2015 will no doubt follow suit.
Members of the newly designated alumni class are moving on to careers across the globe, ranging from work with the Americorps, to pursuing a political journalism career in Washington, D.C., to traveling to teach English internationally. Among early returns of graduates reporting plans to pursue further education, seven have been accepted into medical school and 13 into law school, in addition to others admitted into programs in dental medicine and veterinary medicine. Eight will pursue master of science degrees, eleven will pursue master of arts degrees, and others will seek advanced degrees in business administration and the fine arts.
While their post-Centre pursuits vary, the 2015 graduates share a common calling as they join the ranks of the “#1 happiest grads in the nation” — a number that now totals 13,301 proud alumni.
by Amy Wise
June 2, 2015