The fall meeting of the Centre College Board of Trustees culminated in the dedication of the Northside Residence Hall, a new all-suites facility that became home to 176 students this fall.
Trustees also received updates on other capital projects, particularly the renovation and expansion of Franklin W. Olin Hall to create the Austin E. Knowlton Center for Science and Mathematics, home to the new major and minor in data science, as well as chemistry, computer science, environmental studies, mathematics and physics.
Other current capital projects reported on included renovation of Centre’s indoor and outdoor tennis facilities, creation of an indoor softball practice facility, an expansive upgrade of the Benefactors Plaza that includes ADA improvements, and significant campus lighting and energy enhancements to integrate utility performance across campus.
Strategy was also very much on the minds of the board, which heard reports at its plenary session on potential new initiatives in academic affairs and admission, as well as an update on budgetary issues.
Ellen Goldey, Centre’s new vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College, shared ideas about a possible new academic focus on commerce, entrepreneurship and innovation; exploratory conversations about an outdoors program and a summer language institute; and intentional ways to better recruit and retain a more diverse faculty.
In other issues involving academic affairs, trustees approved sabbaticals for 15 faculty members as well as the tenure-track appointment of Stephanie Galli as assistant professor of art. Dean Goldey also provided an update on implementation of the College’s new general education curriculum, designed to offer greater flexibility for students, along with immersive, experiential learning opportunities.
Additional reports were presented by student, staff, faculty and alumni representatives.
Senior Henry Snyder, president of the Student Government Association; Julie Wheeler, president of Staff Congress; John Wilson, H.W. Stodghill, Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill Professor of Mathematics and faculty president; and Hank Alford ’89, president of the Alumni Association, all provided updates in their respective areas.
Outside of committee meetings, the trustees enjoyed hearing from members of the campus community, past and present.
A Thursday evening dinner, with a focus on the College’s bicentennial anniversary, featured remarks from Centre’s 19th president, Michael F. Adams, and his wife, Mary, who shared memories about their time at the College from 1988 to 1997.
At a luncheon on Friday, trustees heard first-hand experiences about Centre’s expanding student internship opportunities, both domestically and abroad.
Brendan Holly ’18 spoke about his internship in Malaysia that prepared him for his post-graduation Fulbright experience in Indonesia, where he conducted ecology research. Skyler Palmer ’21 spoke about her medical humanities internship in Memphis and a subsequent experience in Ghana. They were introduced by Brett Werner, associate professor of environmental studies and chair of the environmental studies program, and Joy Asher, director of the Center for Career & Professional Development.
According to Asher, student internship participation reached record numbers this year, with projects conducted in 15 states and 14 countries. Outcomes remained impressive as well, with 97 percent of the Class of 2018 either professionally employed or enrolled in graduate or professional school within one year of graduation, exemplifying Centre’s dedication to career preparation.
In governance matters, trustees voted unanimously to change the name and charge of two existing committees.
The Development and Public Affairs Committee will now simply be known as the Development Committee, reflecting its focus on fundraising, stewardship, and alumni and parent engagement. In addition, the Committee on Nominations and Honorary Degrees will now function as the board’s Governance Committee. The trustees also created a Subcommittee on Risk Management, Audit and Legal Affairs that will report through the Finance Committee.
After several years of discussion and study, the board of trustees also voted to amend its bylaws to change terms of service from six to four years, to limit the number of consecutive terms to three, with an option for re-election after 12 months, and to allow an additional two-year term during transition into this new governance structure. Board officers, whose terms exceed the limit, may also have their service extended for up to four years while an officer.
Trustees also approved creation of two new scholarship funds and the renaming of a building.
The Emily Weixler McCay Memorial Scholarship Fund, established by her family and friends, will be awarded to full-time Centre students who have demonstrated financial need and whose lives have been affected by cancer or by other serious chronic illness, either their own illness or that of a close family member, with preference given to female students.
The Robert Kinzel Memorial Scholarship Fund, established by family and friends, will be awarded to full-time Centre students with demonstrated financial need.
Finally, the board voted to rename 762 West Main Street as Higgins Hall in honor of Frederick M. ’65 and Jamie Gaddins Higgins in recognition of their significant generosity to the College. A dedication ceremony will take place in the future.
The Centre College Board of Trustees will hold its next meeting in Louisville at the Omni Hotel, January 31 to February 1, 2020.
by Michael Strysick
October 15, 2019