The winter meeting of the Centre College Board of Trustees took place Jan. 26-27 at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville and was highlighted by the announcement of progress toward completion of the $200 million Third Century Campaign.
Additional discussions focused on positive outcomes in academics, admission and athletics, along with important conversations about the long-term financial health of the College and progress on strategic initiatives and attention to student safety.
By far, the biggest news shared with trustees was the recent tremendous strides achieved in the capital campaign.
Shawn Lyons, Centre’s vice president for development and alumni engagement, said that thanks to several extraordinary commitments in the last 60 days, well over $50 million has been added to the campaign, bringing current total gifts and pledges to $198,863,116 against the $200 million goal.
This includes the creation of four new endowed faculty chairs that will strengthen an already impressive faculty who contribute much to Centre’s reputation as one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges.
And according to Jamey Leahey, vice president for legal affairs and gift planning, two trusts established years ago also added over $20 million to the deferred component of the campaign, which has a goal of $80 million within the campaign. Along with a number of additional gifts, total deferred gift commitments now exceed $88 million, $8 million above that goal.
The trustees also approved creation of three new scholarships. Gifts from Richard N. and Patricia Harper Monohan, Classes of 1969 and 1967, respectively, created two new scholarships: one for students with financial need to attend a Centre residential study abroad program and a second to assist students with demonstrated financial need. In addition, the Class of 1977 established a scholarship for qualified and deserving students in honor of their fortieth reunion.
While the campaign is set to conclude on Dec. 31, 2018, just in advance of the College’s bicentennial on Jan. 21, 2019, Lyons was quick to stress that he and his staff will continue to work hard over the next year not just to cross the finish line but to exceed the goal by as much as possible.
Annual giving efforts have been equally exceptional. Centre’s “Fund the Flame” day of giving, held Nov. 28, exceeded last year’s totals, raising $150,095. Likewise, the fall phonathon effort, staffed largely by Centre students, also exceeded previous year totals, raising $234,413 in gifts and pledges.
This generous support will all be put to good use, as interest in attending Centre remains strong.
Bob Nesmith, Centre’s dean of admission and financial aid, reported the third-highest number of total applications in the College’s history, achieved in part because of record early action applications.
As well, Nesmith highlighted new records for applications from underrepresented and minority students, along with international students, who represent 42 countries—a 40 percent increase over last year. Also, a new record was set for states represented among applicants, with 46 in all. The academic profile of applicants set a new record, too, with the ACT composite score continuing to inch upward.
Current Centre students spoke to trustees at the opening luncheon on Friday, the kind of interaction that board members say is a highlight of the meeting. Dr. Kyle Anderson, director of the Center for Global Citizenship, introduced three students who talked about their study abroad experiences in Centre’s semester-long program in Shanghai, China.
While senior Cesar Garcia and juniors Peyton Cuzzart and Neha Rao all had unique stories to tell about their coursework and internship opportunities, the common thread was the transformative experience study abroad has been for them and the positive impact they anticipate it will continue to have when they pursue advanced study and employment.
Related, Dean of the College Stephanie Fabritius reported to the trustees that Centre, already recognized nationally for its leadership position in international study, set a new record this January for the number of students studying abroad during the three-week CentreTerm.
Altogether, 264 students took courses taught by 12 different faculty members. Destinations ranged from Greece, Italy, Japan, London, New Zealand and Switzerland, to Brazil and a number of Baltic countries, as well as Spain and Morocco in a class that involved crossing the Strait of Gibraltar.
In other academic news, Fabritius reported on the faculty hiring process and new grants to support faculty, including several collaborative awards involving sister institutions in the Associated Colleges of the South.
Joining her at the Academic Affairs Committee meeting was Andrew J. Ryan, Centre’s new chief information officer, and Dr. January Haile, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry & molecular biology, who also serves as chair of the chemistry program.
Ryan updated trustees about the use of technology and its implications for Centre students. Haile shared a draft document on curricular values and student learning goals stemming from the work of the Subcommittee on Curricular Values and Mission, part of broader work being done to review Centre’s general education curriculum.
Athletics Director Brad Fields reported on Centre’s field hockey team, which achieved a new record for wins, a conference tournament championship and a historic run through NCAA postseason competition, reaching as far as the Elite 8 with a victory over seventh-ranked MIT.
Women’s soccer, after winning both their conference title and tournament championship, also saw postseason NCAA tournament competition.
Individually, junior Annie Rodenfels competed in the NCAA Championship for cross country, placing 12th and earning All-American honors.
Chief Planning Officer Patrick Noltemeyer provided an update on the Campus Master Plan process he leads in consultation with St. Louis-based Hastings+Chivetta, with whom Centre previously partnered on nearly $100 million in capital projects. The effort to enhance the living and learning environment has been ongoing, involving input from the campus as a whole.
Of particular note in the report by Vice President and Dean of Students Randy Hays was the emphasis on robust programming for student activities offered by his office and the increased attention to safety.
In addition to a recent campus-wide crisis response drill conducted with local law enforcement, Centre also launched a new LiveSafe app for students that offers things like a peer-to-peer safety escort system, emergency contact options and a reporting tool for sexual misconduct and assault.
In a separate report, Kay Drake, vice president for human resources and administrative services, updated trustees on Title IX efforts led by her new deputy coordinator, Sarah Curry. A key project has been Green Dot bystander training for coaches, faculty and staff. Drake also shared information about recent changes to Centre’s employee benefit plan that expanded health insurance options.
Centre CFO Brian Hutzley shared a preliminary budget model for the coming fiscal year beginning July 1, 2018. And in order to improve the accuracy and timeliness of financial reporting throughout the year, Hutzley described the College’s move to a new quarterly financial statement process, all part of Centre’s ongoing commitment to sound fiscal management.
Finally, the trustees also heard reports from Dr. Lori Hartmann, faculty president; Anne Evans, president-elect of Staff Congress; Kirby Fitzpatrick, president of the Student Government Association; and Lisa Swem, president of the Alumni Association.
The next meeting of the Centre College Board of Trustees is scheduled for April 12-13 on Centre’s historic campus in Danville.
by Michael Strysick
January 29, 2018