Besides being the largest ever entering class in the College’s nearly 200-year history, the 401 new Centre students in the Class of 2020 are also the brightest and most diverse.
Total enrollment stands at 1,425 students, also a new record, with the start of classes on Monday, Aug. 29. To put this in perspective, when President John A. Roush arrived in 1998, opening enrollment was 1,050.
“While I remain convinced that Centre’s best days are yet to come,” says Roush, “this recruitment success represents a very intentional effort to grow the size of our student body in a modest and measured way, and it occurred in the face of a very challenging landscape in American higher education.”
Among the new students are 25 foreign nationals, bringing the overall campus population of international students to 100, or 7 percent of total enrollment. While the majority of these first-year students come from China, others come from Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. They will join classmates already here from abroad and those holding dual citizenship from Canada, England, France, Germany, India, Japan, Northern Ireland, South Korea and Taiwan.
In addition to these foreign countries, students arrived from 32 states and Washington, D.C., bringing the total states represented to 45.
Ten students represent the inaugural class of Lincoln Scholars, the College’s newest premier scholarship, which serves students identified as having the capacity and deep desire to change the world.
They are joined by the second class of Grissom Scholars, another premier scholarship, designed specifically for first-generation college students. In all, 74 first-generation students, or 18 percent, are represented in the Class of 2020.
Diversity is at its highest ever as well, with 21 percent of those U.S. students reporting race identifying as students of color. Hispanic and Latino students represent the largest percentage, followed by African American, Asian American and Native American.
In addition, 15 percent of the American students are immigrants or children of immigrants, with roots in 28 different countries. One-third of these first- and second-generation Americans won premier scholarship awards and will matriculate as Brown Fellows and Grissom, Lincoln and Posse scholars.
“In a national moment when political conversation on immigration falls to polarizing stereotypes and generalizations,” says Centre Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Bob Nesmith, “it’s worth noting that our new class owes much of its brilliance to new Americans of many backgrounds.”
The academic profile of the entering class is noteworthy as well, with 62 percent ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class. In fact, 23 new students were first in their class, 45 were ranked among the top five and 75 were among the top 10 students in their graduating class.
Not surprisingly, this academic success translated into top ACT scores as well. In all, the class as a whole has a midrange score of 26-31, with a mean of 28.58 and a median of 29, placing the middle of the entering class in the top 8 percent of those taking the test.
“In that regard,” says Nesmith, referring to the combination of class rank and ACT scores, “we could rightly call this group the most academically talented class we have enrolled.”
Centre alumni can be proud to know that 60 of the incoming students continue a family legacy.
Finally, in keeping with the College’s longstanding athletic tradition, 46 percent of all incoming students are student-athletes who will compete in 23 intercollegiate sports. Centre also offers 15 intramural sports in which an average 80 percent of all students participate.
The day before classes began, as is Centre tradition, the campus as a whole gathered in the Norton Center for the Arts for Opening Convocation. Noted New York Times columnist David Brooks, who also received an honorary degree at the ceremony, delivered this year’s opening address.
by Michael Strysick
August 29, 2016