Centre College remains one of the nation’s premier institutions in higher education, a position supported by a strong academic reputation, continued success in recruitment and remarkable graduate outcomes, as reported during the College’s spring trustees meeting. The board met April 14-15 on Centre’s campus.
President John A. Roush opened the agenda with news of accolades endorsing Centre’s national prominence as a leading liberal arts institution. College Raptor recently ranked Centre #4 in the country in its “Smartest Choice” listing, while Forbes highlighted the College’s emphasis on affordability and quality with a #3 “best value” position among liberal arts colleges in the South and #27 nationally.
Building on the College’s reputation for return on investment, recent findings demonstrating successful graduate outcomes were shared with the board. According to a report from the College’s Center for Career & Professional Development, 98 percent of the Class of 2015 (with 96 percent reporting) are employed or pursuing advanced study within a year of graduation.
Board members also had the opportunity to hear student presentations throughout the two-day meeting, all of which highlighted extraordinary accounts of the Centre experience.
Sebastian Duncan ’19 and Cecilia Vollbrecht ’17 shared their projects for the recent ninth annual Research, Internships and Creative Endeavors (RICE) Symposium during the board’s plenary session, while three representatives of the Student Investment Club—Mark Dill ’18, Joshua King ’16 and Jabari Nickelson ’16—presented their extracurricular work to the Investments Committee.
The study abroad experience was also highlighted during Friday’s luncheon. Erica Ribenboim ’16 discussed her CentreTerm 2016 experience in Spain and Morocco, a course led by Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy David Hall and co-presenter Assistant Professor of Religion Matthew Pierce, while Max Addington ’18 presented on his CentreTerm exploration of the roots of mindfulness in Japan, joined by Assistant Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience & Psychology Aaron Godlaski and Director of Community Service and the Bonner Program Matthew Klooster.
Noting the College’s continued fiscal health, Centre’s interim Chief Financial Officer John Farris led the board through a detailed five-year financial model during the meeting’s plenary session.
Vice President for College Relations Richard Trollinger shared related financial success with an overview of recent fundraising achievements. Centre has received gifts and grants totaling more than $8 million from approximately 5,200 donors during the current fiscal year. Included among these gifts is the historic Thomas Lyne House in Woodford County, Ky., which was given to the College by a trustee and his wife to fund a scholarship when sold.
Trollinger also announced that momentum for the $200 million Third Century Campaign continues to strengthen, with gifts and pledges now exceeding $126 million. The recent launch of the regional phase of the campaign marks a significant step toward the 2019 completion date, which will coincide with the 200th anniversary of Centre’s founding.
The board also approved two new endowed scholarships and an endowed fund for summer internships: the Herndon-Hines Scholarship Fund, the Myrtle Hayes Simpson and Gertrude Haynes Memorial Scholarship, and the Michael and Sarah Jury Internship Fund.
These new scholarships are likely to bolster Centre’s already successful recruitment efforts, as reported by Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Bob Nesmith. During his report, Nesmith cited a marked increase in diversity among the Class of 2020 applicant pool, with applications up 8 percent over last year from international students and students of color.
Nesmith also referenced the College’s three premier scholarship programs—Brown Fellows, Grissom Scholars and the new Lincoln Scholars—as important contributors to the rise in applicant diversity and talent.
The first class of Lincoln Scholars, representing states throughout the nation and across the globe, will begin their inaugural year at Centre in the fall of 2016 with “full-ride plus” scholarships and three summer enrichment experiences, along with self-directed study opportunities. Robert J. Schalkoff, of Yamaguchi Prefectural University in Japan, has been chosen to lead the Lincoln Scholars Program beginning in July 2016.
Randy Hays, vice president and dean of student life, spoke about the culture of service at Centre, noting several student organizations, including the new Centre Service Council and the Alternative Spring Break program, that continue to advance the focus of student service on campus and beyond.
Regarding Greek life, in March, the Sorority Extension Committee invited a new sorority, Kappa Delta, to colonize on campus in fall 2016, becoming Centre’s fifth sorority.
Stephanie Fabritius, vice president of academic affairs and dean of the College, recognized the many contributions of Christine Shannon, Margaret V. Haggin Professor of Computer Science, who will retire in May. Shannon joined Centre’s faculty in 1989 as the first person hired at the College with the rank of full professor. In addition to serving as chair of the computer science program, she also served as chair of the Division of Science and Mathematics (1997-2000) and Faculty President (2010-13). The board unanimously approved Shannon with the title of Margaret V. Haggin Emerita Professor of Computer Science.
Additionally, the board gave approval for five new tenure-track faculty hired to begin in the fall of 2016: Thomas Allen (computer science); Satty Flaherty-Echeverría (Spanish); Karin Gill (behavioral neuroscience); Matthew Kassner (psychology); and Michael Lamar (mathematics).
During her report, Fabritius elaborated on the College’s 9th Annual RICE Symposium, an all-campus event held April 14 that featured more than 95 student presentations focused on research, internships and creative pursuits, including a student art exhibit.
A four-year, $400,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to be applied toward Asian and environmental studies on campus and abroad was also announced. The grant, which comes from the Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment (LIASE), will focus on China, Malaysia and Thailand.
In other College business, the board approved the budget for the fiscal year 2016-17, the graduating class of 2016 (subject to final approval in May) and a faculty initiative to review policies and practices of the tenure and promotion committee.
In addition, five trustees were re-elected to serve six-year terms that continue through June 30, 2022. Those trustees are Greg W. Caudill, Paul W. Chellgren, Barb Emler ’76, Jeffrey L. Mackin ’83 and Eddy Roberts, Jr.
James D. Rouse ’62 was also named an emeritus trustee, acknowledging his 36 years of service as a board member, 28 of those years as board secretary.
Board officers elected for the 2016-2017 year are Randal B. Kell ’69, chair; Mark E. Nunnelly ’80, vice chair; Crit Luallen ’74, secretary; John A. Roush, president of the College; and Yvonne York Morley, assistant secretary.
The next meeting of the Centre College board of trustees will take place October 20-21, 2016, on the Centre campus.
by Amy Clark Wise
April 18, 2016