|Centre celebrates 200th birthday of pivotal president
RELEASED: Aug. 14, 2003
DANVILLE, KYMembers of the Centre community gathered Tuesday for tea, cake and to say thanks to an old friend.
A party commemorating the life and contributions of John C. Young was held at Young Hall, the academic building partially named for the former Centre president (1830-1857). The classroom building is also named in honor of his son, William C. Young, who served as a president at Centre from 1888 to 1896.
The party celebrated the bicentennial of John C. Young's birthday (Aug. 12, 1803).
Beau Weston, associate professor of sociology, organized the event. Weston is writing a history of the College and thought the party would be an appropriate gesture. Weston and other attendees sang "Happy Birthday" to a portrait of John C. Young and discussed Young's accomplishments.
Young, born in Greencastle, Pa., was Centre's fourth president. He took charge of the school during a trying time in its history.
Inaugurated in November of 1830, Young took office at the age of 27, and found a college still struggling to survive. In its 11-year existence, Centre had graduated only 25 students, and in 1830 had an enrollment of 23. In addition, the school was also suffering financial difficulties, a constant strain for most colleges in that era. Under his administration, however, Centre grew in size, strength, wealth, and prestige. The faculty grew, the endowment fund enlarged, and academic standards were strengthened. Young's first graduating class, in 1831, consisted of only two students, but his last, in 1857, had 47. In that year, Centre could boast of an enrollment of more than 250 students, and an endowment in excess of $100,000.
Amy Sibley '04, who has done collaborative research with Weston the past two summers on the history of Centre, said it's hard to say if there would be a Centre College without Young.
"He was incredibly important to Centre," said Sibley, an anthropology/sociology major and history minor from Paducah. "Students were extremely close to him. He was very involved in the lives of the students. He taught classes, and they even studied at his home. He had an overwhelming influence on the lives of Centre students."
To read more about Young and other Centre presidents, go to http://www.centre.edu/web/library/sc/presidents/jcyoung.html.
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