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Janus alters Founders Day event

Posted by Centre News in Academics, Campus, News 22 Jan 2014

An uninvited guest disrupted—but did not derail—Centre’s Founders Day convocation on Jan. 22.

The major winter storm named Janus caused more than 4,000 flights to be cancelled and prevented the arrival of scheduled keynote speaker Philip Glotzbach, president of Skidmore College and a leader in higher education.

Fortunately, Centre President John A. Roush admirably stepped up to the plate with a Founders Day address of his own.

johnroush_openingconvoHis theme was leadership, not surprising since he teaches a class on leadership each CentreTerm.

Turning for inspiration to Centre’s statue of a young Abraham Lincoln, Roush spoke of Lincoln as a role model for leaders of the 21st century.

Roush called out a few of the traits behind the success of the nation’s 16th president, including persistence, persuasion, honesty, leniency, courage, flexibility and the ability to set goals.

“Lincoln knew that true leadership is often realized by exerting quiet and subtle influence on a day-to-day basis,” said Roush. “He treated everyone with the same courtesy and respect, whether they were kings or merchants and farmers from his native Kentucky. He lifted people out of their everyday selves and to a higher level of performance, achievement and awareness.”

Roush suggested that Centre’s Lincoln statue could serve as an opportune reminder for all who pass it by.

“Centre’s Lincoln signals for all of us that there is a greater good demanding the best of us each day,” he said. “Each of us—with our limits and imperfections—are capable of doing great things. . . . [and] our America, with its many frailties, remains a place of immense goodness and generosity and promise.”

A campus fixture since 2012, Centre’s Lincoln signals, too, the connection between Lincoln and one of the College’s first graduates, John Todd Stuart, class of 1826. Stuart was already an established lawyer when he loaned his law books to the young Lincoln. The two later set up a practice together in Springfield, Ill.

As part of the Founders Day program, Faculty President Bruce K. Johnson, standing in for Vice President and Dean of the College Stephanie Fabritius, who was at a conference, summed up nearly 200 years of Centre history in fewer than 1,000 words.

“It is not my object to recount in detail Centre’s transformation from two professors and five students sitting on a few logs in the back of beyond,” said Johnson. “I mean only to remind us that Centre did not spring fully formed from the Founders’ vision, as Athena from the head of Zeus. It has been nurtured and cultivated for 195 years, against sometimes daunting odds, by a long line of faculty, administrators and benefactors.”

Steven Hahus ’14 delivered the invocation before the event, while Sara Egge, assistant professor of history, gave the benediction.

Centre received its charter from the Kentucky legislature 195 years ago, on Jan. 21, 1819. Given the mid-winter timing, it’s remarkable that this was the first time in memory that the expected speaker has not made it to campus. Philip Glotzbach has agreed to be the 2015 Founders Day speaker, weather permitting.

To read President Roush’s full address, “Centre’s Lincoln,” click here.

To read Dr. Bruce K. Johnson’s remarks, click here.

By Diane Johnson, College Editor

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