Your Centre Stories, Part 2
RELEASED: Dec. 8, 2005
DANVILLE, KYOver the years, Centre College has been in the habit of telling its graduates why they should support the College with an annual gift. Alumni have responded by leading the nation in annual giving percentage 16 of the last 22 years.
This year, the development office has decided to change things up a bit, by asking alumni to give their own reasons for giving to their alma mater.
The response has been overwhelming. Here in the second of a multi-part series, is a sampling of "Centre Stories," Centre alumni's reasons for giving:
Forrest Miller '05, Sturgis, Ky.:
When I came for a visit and went to Weisiger Theatre in the College's Norton Center for the Arts for a presentation by all of the "higher ups," I realized President Roush was not there. I could tell Dean Ward and Dean Hayes were stalling, but I didn't know why. After a few anxious minutes, President Roush walked across the stage with his Centre windbreaker on. His hair was wet and he knew he was late. He took the microphone, saying "I'm sorry I'm late. The baseball game went to extra innings." I knew then that the administration cared about the students. I want other students to be able to realize how special Centre is, because I truly feel the entire Centre community is concerned with the progress of each and every student. You won't find that at other schools.
Erin Morfitt '01 Grayslake, Ill.:
Simply put, Centre was the best cumulative experience thus far in my life. The things I learned and the people I met will remain in my mind and heart forever. I want others to be able to experience Centre as well.
Lara McCoy Roslof '00, Moscow:
In January 2002, I decided that 18 months of law school was enough and began to apply to graduate programs in Russian history. Of course, my primary recommendation had to come from [Boles Professor of History] Mike Hamm, the person who had encouraged my study of Russia and sponsored my John C. Young project on the Russian Orthodox Church. When I called him, he seemed genuinely glad to hear from me and after I told him what I wanted, he said, "Lara, are you really sure that's what you want to do?"--a legitimate question, considering that we had discussed the topic at length two years before. But I told him I was sure and he said that he was happy to write the letter.
"There's one more thing," I said hesitantly, "I need it by the end of the week."
"No problem," he replied.
And so it happened that on the evening of my five-year reunion this fall, I was not in Danville, but instead at a ball at Spaso House, the U.S. Ambassador's residence in Moscow, telling this story to a foreign service officer in an attempt to convince him that Centre would be a great choice for his daughter, a high school senior.
I could have told him about the deep friendships I made at Centre. Or how I felt singing in Strasbourg Cathedral. Or what amazing shows I saw at the Norton Center. Or how I walked from Regent's College to Oxford Street to look at the Christmas window displays during my semester in London. But instead I told him about playing bridge with [Stodghill Professor of Music] Barbara Hall on the floor of the Brussels airport, sharing Easter dinner with [Dean of the College] John and [professor of English] Maryanne Ward and discussing the meaning of life with [Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Religion] Milton Scarborough. Even years after my graduation, my Centre professors are the people I turn to for advice--both in my career and in my life. I give to Centre because, in my opinion, the most important thing the College can do is maintain its emphasis on teaching and its low student-to-faculty ratio, because Centre changed my life by allowing me to have personal relationships with people who were not only wonderful scholars but also wonderful people.
Bryan Compton '58, Northridge, Cal.:
The personal testimonials printed at the end of the CentrePiece , the College's alumni magazine, touch me in a manner different from the way other alumni may be moved. For them, such accounts confirm what they themselves feel, a shared treasuring of their time at Centre which has engendered a lifetime of loyalty to the College. Despite having attended three universities after Centre and earning two degrees, I never experienced the love of place and society that these writers express.
I have twice attended reunions and as I walked the campus I realized that the place per se did not elicit pleasurable nostalgia. What brought me there, and what will call me back once again, was to be in the company of classmates who remain, after 51 years, treasured friends.
I came to Centre in September '54, following three years service in the Marine Corps during the Korean War. I was unprepared to measure up to the demands of disciplined academic routine and dismally failed my two-semester stint at Centre. I also distinguished myself by: quitting the basketball team which rankled Coach Brummett; disappointing my fraternity brothers by pledging but not opting to be initiated into Beta Theta Pi; getting involved stupidly in the Southern Bell telephone strike; and rebelling against Dean Jones' decision to suspend me in the spring semester, which led to a lengthy and at times heated session of argumentation (which resulted in his rescinding his decision); and a testy confrontation with President Groves.
Despite all of this, and more on the dumb side of my ledger, I left Centre regretting that I would not be returning. And ever after I have wished I could relive that school year which was so pivotal in my life. So just what is there in all of this that contributes to my high regard for Centre? It derives from my love and respect for my friends who do hold Centre in such esteem. It is as though vicariously I care for what they care for, as they are individuals of substance and integrity. I care about Centre in a curious sense: it is where I did poorly but wish I had done well; it is where my valued friends did well and from which they carry forward an undiminished loyalty. By comparison to writers of tributes to Centre, what I have is not much, but it is a testimony to the effect of "our" college. Even someone who made the least of his opportunity there came away with something of lasting value.
Katherine Graybeal '04 Louisville:
I give to Centre because my parents were right--it was the best four years of my life. Centre gave me so much and I want to show my gratitude by giving back.
If you have your own story to tell, please share it with us by sending an email to the communications office at firstname.lastname@example.org . Checks should of course still be directed to the usual place. Remember, online giving is easy to do: just visit http://gifts.centre.edu/ .
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
For news archives go to http://www.centre.edu/web/news/newsarchive.html.
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