Centre College held its Founders Day Celebration on Jan. 16, a full-day of on-campus events to kick-off its bicentennial year.
The festivities began with the annual Founders Day convocation held in Newlin Hall in the Norton Center for the Arts. The keynote speakers were Crit Luallen ’74, secretary of the Centre Board of Trustees and a former Kentucky lieutenant governor, state auditor, and commissioner of the arts, and Milton Reigelman, Cowan Professor of English Emeritus and former acting president of the College.
Reflecting on her time at Centre during her keynote speech, Luallen stated that it was her Centre experience that gave her the foundation for every step of her journey.
“For me, it was a path in public service, where in each job I had, I drew satisfaction from knowing I was working to make a difference in the lives of others,” Luallen said. “And that’s what sets Centre apart. In addition to a sound educational foundation, graduates leave Centre with a solid moral compass and a commitment to make a difference in the world. Mine is only a tiny part of the story that Centre alumni have written through the generations and the over 13,400 living alumni are still writing out in the world.
“The true Centre story over these 200 years lies in these stories of individual lives—lives of excellence, lives of integrity, lives given in service to others, worthwhile lives that have left the world a better place,” she continued.
During Reigelman’s keynote speech, he shared pieces of Centre’s history, as well as discussed a number of alumni and their accomplishments.
“If Centre hadn’t been founded in 1819, John Todd Stuart wouldn’t have graduated in 1826 nor John C. Breckinridge in 1835, and Abraham Lincoln would have become a really fine, shoe salesman for horses,” he said. “Ipso facto: The United States owes its survival and existence today to Centre College, Q.E.D., logic being part of the trivium taught here 200 years ago.
“The graduates of this little College made it possible for Lincoln to become president when we most needed him,” he continued. “Our country may soon need another Lincoln. When I look out at the young women and men in this audience, I think I know where she or he will come from.”
During the convocation, Alltech Artist-in-Residence Gregory Turay sang “Olde Centre Marches Ever On” written in 1908 by Phil Ryan and set to the tune of “La Marseillaise.”
The afternoon featured four Centre Seminars, with the first two led by Centre faculty, Amos Tubb, Gordon B. Davidson Associate Professor of History, and Ravi Radhakrishnan, associate professor of economics. Their seminar was titled “Show Me the Gold (& White): The Story of Centre’s History and Endowment.”
Beau Weston, John M. and Louise Van Winkle Professor of Sociology, and Tara Strauch, assistant professor of history, presented “A Religious Center: A Discussion about Centre, Presbyterianism, and Religion.”
In addition, John Kinkade, Charles T. Hazelrigg Associate Professor of English, and Azita Osanloo, assistant professor of English, discussed “Why Centre?” and the evolution of the English language over the last 200 years. Lenny Demoranville, assistant professor of chemistry and Pat Heist, co-founder of the Wilderness Trail Distillery, presented “The Science of Making Bourbon,” including the chemistry and process.
The evening celebration began in the Norton Center for the Arts, where Weston, author of “Centre College: Scholars, Gentlemen, and Christians,” gave a brief talk on 200 years of Centre history. Attendees also watched the eight-minute preview of “A Storied Centre: A Bicentennial Celebration of Centre College,” the student-directed documentary produced by Tom Thurman ’84. Turay led several choirs in “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot and “One Day More” from “Les Miserables” with an orchestra conducted by Rob Seebacher of Centre’s music program.
“Pieces of Time,” an exhibition of photographs from the Centre archives, opened on Jan. 16 and will be displayed in the Norton Center for the Arts through May 19.
The festivities concluded with a dessert reception and toast to the College’s 200th anniversary from Alumni Association President Hank Alford ’89.
To honor Centre’s generous donors, several yellow bows were placed around a number of buildings, trees, athletic facilities, classrooms, art, statues and other campus landmarks acknowledging these gifts to the College.
Centre received its charter from the Kentucky legislature on Jan. 21, 1819. The College will celebrate its actual founding date with a day of service that will put volunteers to work at sites in the Danville community and around the country.
by Centre College News
January 18, 2019