Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen to deliver 2015 Commencement address at Centre College

Posted by Centre News in News 23 Feb 2015

luallenCrit Luallen, lieutenant governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, will return to her alma mater as the featured speaker for Centre College’s 192nd Commencement exercises on Sunday, May 24, 2015.

While the College has featured alumni and public officials at numerous Commencement ceremonies over the decades, this is the first time ever that such a high ranking public servant who is also an alumna will speak to graduating seniors.

“I am deeply honored to be asked to speak at Commencement,” says Lt. Gov. Luallen. “Centre had a profound influence on my life, and my appreciation for the experience there has increased with each passing year.”

A 1974 graduate of Centre with a degree in studio art, Luallen has remained very involved with the life of the College, especially since being elected to the Centre College Board of Trustees in April 1998. She currently chairs the Development and Public Affairs Committee.

“It has been truly rewarding to serve as a trustee these past 17 years,” Luallen says of this role, “and to have the opportunity to be involved in the future of what is now one of the finest liberal arts schools in the country.”

John A. Roush, who arrived at Centre College the same year Luallen joined its board, has relied on Luallen’s advice and insight during his entire tenure as president.

“Crit is remarkable in every way,” Roush says, “and she is sure to inspire our graduates and their families at this year’s Commencement ceremony. Few better exemplify Centre’s mission to prepare students for lives of learning, leadership and service.”

Eugenia Crittenden Blackburn Luallen is a seventh-generation Kentuckian and comes from a long line of public servants extending back to the 19th century.

Gideon Blackburn, a Presbyterian minister and missionary to the Cherokee and Creek nations, served 1827-30 as Centre’s fourth president. John J. Crittenden served Kentucky in both houses of the United States Congress and was the 17th governor of Kentucky, in office 1848-50. Luke Pryor Blackburn, a physician, was Kentucky’s 28th governor and served 1879-83.

Her own long career in public service includes working with seven different governors, beginning with Wendell Ford in 1974 to Steve Beshear in 2014.

Luallen was a recent Centre graduate herself when in 1974 she worked on Gov. Wendell Ford’s U.S. Senate campaign. She was later part of the successful gubernatorial campaign of Martha Layne Collins, for whom she served as a special assistant and as Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of the Arts. Luallen has also served as Secretary of the Kentucky Tourism Cabinet, Secretary of the Finance and Administration Cabinet, and Secretary of Gov. Paul Patton’s Executive Cabinet.

Her first elected role, as Auditor of Public Accounts, began in 2003. Luallen was re-elected by a landslide in 2007.

Of her professional career and Centre education, Luallen says, “I am acutely aware of the role Centre has played for generations in shaping leaders who contribute in meaningful ways in every corner of the Commonwealth.”

Luallen hopes her own experiences will prove of interest to the Class of 2015.

“When I was sworn in as lieutenant governor, I wanted Centre to be prominently featured in the program because of the school’s importance in my life,” she says. “I hope to be able to use my personal story as a way to reinforce with the graduates how the Centre experience prepares them for a life of leadership and service and encourage them to consider how they will contribute to the greater good.”

As part of the Commencement ceremony, Luallen will receive the honorary degree of doctor of humane letters.

This year’s Baccalaureate speaker is Dr. Rick Axtell, College Chaplain and Paul L. Cantrell Professor of Religion.

by Michael Strysick