Although the economic climate around the country may still be gray, the future for Centre College looks bright. At a time when many institutions have had to make cutbacks, Centre continues to improve. The institution is, in fact, on a roll; it is, as L.A. Times recently said, “a college that consistently punches above its weight.”
This fall, Centre’s enrollment has reached an all-time high, 1,242 students. The incoming first-year class is made up of 356 students, the largest in history, and minority and international students make up 17 percent of the entering class.
The current average ACT score is 29 (the SAT equivalent of about 1,300), the highest average in Centre history.
The class is 50 percent male, 50 percent female. It includes students from 36 states. More than 80 percent were in the top quarter of their high school classes; nearly 60 percent were in the top 10 percent.
Centre has had two Rhodes Scholars in the last decade, including one currently at Oxford. In the last 50 years, Centre has produced more than 60 percent of all Rhodes Scholars from Kentucky. In the last 10 years, the College has had 30 Fulbright, 11 Rotary and seven Goldwater winners.
Centre has continued to score in the highest ranks of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). In 2009, the College scored higher than institutions of its type and higher than the average for all institutions in all five of the NSSE engagement categories.
(The NSSE results are based on surveys completed by more than 360,000 randomly selected first-year students and seniors from 617 U.S. colleges and universities. They measure student engagement in five key areas: level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student interactions with faculty, enriching educational experiences and supportive campus environment.)
“Centre’s results in the 2009 survey are one more clear indication that students here are intensely and personally challenged to achieve their educational goals,” says Centre president John Roush. “High school students and their families should use NSSE results to see which colleges do the best job in helping students learn.”
In the last eight years, Centre has accomplished an $85-million campus-wide capital project—the largest in the school’s history. These improvements include an expanded and renovated library; expanded science building; expanded and modern building for student fitness and intercollegiate athletics; new student center with dining commons; state-of-the-art “green” student residence hall; first total renovation of the famed Norton Center for the Arts since it opened in 1973; and numerous smaller projects that have made an already attractive campus more beautiful as Centre moves towards its 200th birthday in 2019.
Centre is consistently in the top 50 of national liberal arts colleges in the U.S. Newsrankings (47th in 2010). U.S. News ranks Centre 9th for strong commitment to teaching; 5th among all colleges and universities for the percentage of students who study abroad (85 percent); and 26th for Great Schools at Great Prices.
Consumers Digest ranks Centre as the No. 1 value among private liberal arts colleges. Forbes ranks Centre 24th among all American colleges and universities and No. 1 in the South. Kaplan/Newsweek ranks Centre 10th among Most Service-Minded Schools. And Centre was one of 39 schools on the honor roll in The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s 2010 “Great Colleges to Work For” survey.
Distinctive programs and policies
The “Centre Commitment” guarantees all students: 1) an internship, 2) study abroad, and 3) graduation within four years or the College will provide an additional year of study tuition free.
Another unique program, initiated this fall, is the “Centre’s Your Passport” program, which provides a passport to every entering first-year student who does not have one, free of charge.
And, unlike most colleges and universities, Centre has offered students the option of self-designed majors for nearly 40 years. Every student who chooses to design a major believes the choice was a beneficial one. “Having to create my own major pushed me to concisely verbalize my aspirations and have the courage to present my dreams to others,” says Bethany Pratt ’10, who designed and completed an environmental studies major.
From improved facilities to a growing student population to new and innovative programs, Centre College is certainly on a roll. It is becoming more and more, in the words of its legendary president John C. Young (1830-1957), “a place of large advantages.”