The winter meeting of the Centre College Board of Trustees took place Jan. 27-28 at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville and included conversations about innovation and technology, successful fundraising and recruitment outcomes, record-setting student-athlete honors and notable study abroad destinations during the College’s three-week CentreTerm.
At the meeting’s opening luncheon, President John A. Roush led a discussion on creativity, innovation and technology in higher education that included reports from the College’s chief academic and planning officers. As part of Centre’s current strategic planning efforts, Dean of the College Stephanie Fabritius and Assistant to the President Patrick Noltemeyer co-chaired an ad hoc task force to investigate technological innovations in and out of the classroom. Task force members visited campuses across the country, including Arizona State University, Grinnell College and Middlebury College.
Roush emphasized that while Centre is committed to remaining grounded in the liberal arts and sciences with high-performing faculty who teach and inspire students in personal and engaging ways, the College should always use available technology when it fosters even richer intellectual opportunities for learning and needs to continue exploring how high-tech, online learning might add opportunity and quality to its programs.
These kinds of experiences in Centre’s highly residential setting continue to be supported by generous gifts. Shawn Lyons, the College’s chief development officer, reported on the continuing success of the $200 million Third Century Campaign and on annual fundraising efforts.
Set to conclude on the College’s bicentennial on Jan. 21, 2019, Lyons said that the campaign is now more than 72 percent complete, with current fundraising totals reaching $145,053,643.
Centre’s “Fund the Flame” day of giving, held Nov. 29, exceeded its goal of 1,129 donors, Lyons added, raising $142,173 from 1,356 alumni, faculty, staff, parents and trustees. The fall phonathon effort, staffed largely by Centre students, added $194,265 in gifts from 1,407 donors. Overall annual giving has been strengthened by an increase in alumni participation year to date, from 27.3 to 32.5 percent.
Four new endowed scholarships were approved by trustees at the meeting. The Nell Huston Allen Scholarship, the Margaret Campbell Scholarship, the Kimberly Joan McGloshen Lipovsek Memorial Scholarship, and the Christine and David Shannon Fund will all help make a Centre education possible for talented and deserving young men and women. The trustees also approved the L.C. Workman and Y.M. Castillo Study Abroad Fund that will help deserving students participate in Centre’s acclaimed global citizenship program.
Related, interest in attending Centre remains high. Bob Nesmith, the College’s chief admission officer, reported particularly positive application numbers for early decision and early action applications that exceeded last year’s record-setting numbers. Combined with regular decision applications, Centre is in a strong position to again meet its recruitment goals.
Nesmith noted that applications and nominations for the College’s three premier scholarships—the Brown, Grissom and Lincoln programs offer full-tuition and full-ride-plus opportunities for highly talented students—represent an important portion of the applicant pool.
Admission staff and Centre student ambassadors have been very busy in terms of hosting prospective students, Nesmith added, with nearly 1,500 high school seniors alone visiting campus during this recruitment cycle. Junior and sophomore visitors pushed the total number past 2,000 campus visits.
In terms of current students, Athletics Director Brad Fields reported on an important historic first for Centre Colonels athletics. Three First-Team All-America honors were won in a single season by female student-athletes: Serena Gale-Butto (cross country), Nicole DeHerde (field hockey) and Destinie Graves (soccer).
Milton Reigelman, director of the Center for Global Citizenship, shared news of the record-setting 230 Centre students who studied abroad during the three-week term in January. Class trips included visits to Israel and Jordan; Amsterdam, Ghent and Vienna; Florence and Rome; and Nice and Paris. Chile, Cuba, England, Ghana, Myanmar, New Zealand, Thailand, and Trinidad and Tobago were other notable destinations.
Trustees also learned about a successful “Kentucky Bluegrass Week” program in Yamaguchi, Japan. Centre has been an educational exchange partner with Yamaguchi Prefectural University for nearly two decades, with both students and faculty visiting and studying at each other’s campuses. Thirteen members of the College and Danville communities, including Associate Professor of Music Nathan Link and members of the Kentucky Music Ensemble bluegrass group, shared cultural and artistic aspects of Kentucky.
In other academic news, Fabritius reported on the progress of Centre’s two-year Diversity Climate Assessment process, one of several projects supported by a generous $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to enhance diversity and inclusion on campus. Led by the College’s chief diversity officer, Rodmon King, the assessment effort began this year with student focus-group conversations in the fall and will continue in the spring with a campus-wide student survey. A similar process with faculty and staff will take place the following year.
Fabritius also shared news of the continued success of the Career Mentor Network, an effort directed by the Center for Career & Professional Development, which recently invited parents to join the network. More than 300 alumni already participate. The information, guidance and advice available to current students will help efforts to maintain strong outcomes that include an average 98 percent employed or pursuing advanced study within a year after graduation.
The next meeting of the Centre College Board of Trustees is scheduled for April 13-14 on Centre’s campus.
by Michael Strysick
January 28, 2017