Why Centre is one of the Colleges That Change Lives
April 22, 2010 By Leigh Ivey
has on the growth of young minds and personalities,” the book
Pope writes that Centre professors (such as economics professor
Dr. David Anderson, above) are “earnestly committed to and
excel at the art of teaching.”
By the time they graduate, Pope says, Centre students have “the
ability to imagine and create, to think and reason analytically, to
solve problems, to integrate and synthesize complex information,
to use language clearly and persuasively, and to make responsible
Nearly every Centre College graduate leaves campus feeling that his or her life has been transformed. Loren Pope believed this without having even been a student at the College. In his best-selling guidebook Colleges That Change Lives, he explains why Centre is worthy of such recognition.
“Centre students are bright, wholesome, polite, friendly and personable, eager to do well, and serious about what life hold for them,” Pope writes. “They might be called the intelligent, responsible (and very engaging) center.”
Pope writes that Centre makes good on its promise of “personal education, extraordinary success.” At the College, professors are “earnestly committed to and excel at the art of teaching,” and they do so in a very personal way—from inviting students to their homes for meals to engaging in one-on-one research projects. “No university faculty compares with Centre’s in the impact it has on the growth of young minds and personalities,” Pope writes.
Senior Chase Warner of Lexington, Ky., is one of the many students who appreciates just how special the Centre faculty is.
“To me, Centre professors truly understand what the word ‘education’ means,” he says. “More than just feeding our minds, they’re interested in who we are as people. They often ask about what’s going on in our lives and can even work in some of these details into their lectures.”
He adds that “Centre professors are unique in that they engage their students both in and outside of the classroom—something that I’ve yet to hear from my friends at other schools. And I’ve always chosen to take hard classes at Centre despite the thought of my GPA suffering because I know that I‘ll grow as a student and a person by engaging with my professors in their elements.”
Because Centre classes are small (the average number of students in each class this school year is 19), professors truly get to know the student body, and their willingness to help students succeed is noteworthy. “If a student misses more than two classes in a row,” Pope writes, “the instructor will call to see if anything’s wrong and alert his advisor. Professor Milton Reigelman notes, ‘We’re so small, a problem can’t fall between the chairs.’”
The “personal education” Centre provides leads the way to the “extraordinary success” of alumni in both graduate programs and the work force, a reality that Pope addresses by observing, “Some years, 100 percent of their medical school applicants have been accepted. That also goes for getting jobs. Even during the recession of the early nineties, 96 percent of its graduates had jobs or were in graduate or professional schools within six months.”
Another aspect of Centre that Pope lauds is its remarkable study abroad program. Making note of the remarkably high percentage of students who study abroad (around 85 percent of students do so), Pope writes that students “call the foreign study terms the best experiences of their lives.”
The study abroad program at Centre is certainly unique; unlike most schools, Centre completely runs and staffs three long-term, residential programs. These are located in Strasbourg, France; Merida, Mexico; and London, England. In each of these cities, students live with fellow Centre students and are taught by Centre professors. For those who wish to study abroad independently for a term or two, Centre also offers exchange programs with schools in China, Japan, Spain and Northern Ireland.
During the College’s three-week CentreTerm, a wealth of study abroad options exist. Past CentreTerm trips have included Bali, England, France, New Zealand, India, Vietnam and Nicaragua, to name just a few.
“The thing I like best about our study abroad programs is that they really widen students’ horizons,” associate professor of history Liz Perkins says. “When you’re in a foreign country, you immediately begin to understand the value of studying a lot of things: other languages, great works of art and architecture, the histories and cultures of the world’s peoples. And when you come home, you see your own country from an entirely new perspective. In my classes, I can really tell the difference in students who’ve studied abroad. They’re more world-wise but also more open—to new ideas, to new friends, and to future lives beyond the safe or the conventional.”
Pope mentions that studying abroad is guaranteed in the Centre Commitment, which also guarantees all students who meet the College’s academic and social expectations an internship and graduation in four years—or Centre provides an additional year of study tuition-free. (And, in addition to a guaranteed study abroad experience, Centre will provide funds for a passport to any incoming student who does not own one.)
In Colleges That Change Lives, Pope also praises Centre’s campus and facilities, mentioning how enjoyable it is to walk “its beautiful campus, whose majestic trees look like they have been there since the college was founded in 1819.”
He also speaks highly of the College’s Norton Center for the Arts, which he calls “a lovely structure…and impressive center” that “gives the historic and charming town of Danville considerable cultural bragging rights. Each year some of the most acclaimed dancers, singers, orchestras, popular musicians, soloist, choral groups, and half a dozen of the best Broadway musicals perform in it.” Among the performers he mentions are Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, the Beach Boys, the Bolshoi Ballet and Art Garfunkel.
Pope remarks that in countless ways, Centre transforms its students into well-rounded, intelligent adults. “Its program is designed to develop in students the ability to imagine and create, to think and reason analytically, to solve problems, to integrate and synthesize complex information, to use language clearly and persuasively, and to make responsible choices,” he writes.
Those wishing to discover for themselves whether Centre is the place for their lives to be transformed are encouraged to visit campus. For information about scheduling a visit, click here.