Two hundred and ninety-eight seniors were granted degrees at Centre College’s 193rd Commencement, held on Sunday, May 22, at the Norton Center for the Arts. Upon graduating, the Class of 2016 left a legacy of impressive accomplishments and countless life-changing experiences on campus and across the globe.
As we bid them farewell, here’s a final look at the class of 2016, including a roundup of interesting facts and figures from Commencement 193:
Number of graduating seniors: 298 tassels were turned during this year’s Commencement. Of the total graduates, 146 were female and 152 were male. Centre’s 49/51 female-to-male ratio represents a gender parity unusual at universities across the country and is particularly rare at liberal arts colleges.
The class of 2016 differs markedly from the graduating classes of the College’s earliest years. Centre was chartered in 1819, and its inaugural class—composed of only two graduates—were awarded degrees in 1824.
Graduation rate: With a guarantee to graduate in four years, Centre delivers on its reputation for high achievement. The four-year graduation rate for the 2016 class is 80 percent, giving Centre the highest graduation rate in the state and among the highest in the nation.
Most popular majors: The top five majors for the 2016 class are 1) economics and finance; 2) biology; 3) history; 4) politics; and 5) behavioral neuroscience.
Number of honorary degrees awarded: 2. Commencement speaker Deborah Bial, founder and president of the Posse Foundation, was granted an honorary doctor of humane letters. Bial, who founded Posse at the age of 23 in 1989, has also been the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant.
Harold H. Smith ’64, president of the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program Foundation and president emeritus of Pikeville College, also received an honorary doctor of humane letters during the Commencement ceremony. Smith’s long career in higher education began with 19 years of service at Centre as dean of admission and later, vice president and dean of student life.
Number of Valedictorians: 2. Jeri Howell of Frankfort, Ky., received the Gavin Easton Wiseman Valedictorian Prize for top female graduate, and Matthew Cantrell of Mount Horeb, Wis., was awarded the George Winston Welsh Valedictorian Prize for top male graduate.
Number of students receiving honors: 83. Nine students graduated summa cum laude, 29 magna cum laude and 45 cum laude.
Number of students in Phi Beta Kappa: Thirty-six graduates were elected to Centre’s chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s oldest honor society for the liberal arts and sciences.
Number of Posse Scholars: Ten members of the Posse program crossed the stage. The New York-based Posse Foundation recruits outstanding students from urban school systems in large cities across the U.S. and places them in selective colleges and universities, where they receive full scholarships. This is the seventh class of Posse graduates, all of whom are from the Boston area. Bial’s Commencement address was especially meaningful for these graduating Posse scholars. Centre will celebrate ten years of partnering with the Posse Foundation this fall.
Number of Brown Fellows: 10. This was the fourth class of Brown Fellows to graduate from Centre. The College partnered with the James Graham Brown Foundation to launch the Brown Fellows Program in 2009. Students selected into the program receive full-ride scholarships and additional benefits, including summer enrichment experiences. The program is the premier scholarship and enrichment initiative in Kentucky and one of the nation’s elite fellowship programs.
National awards: This year’s class included multiple national award winners, including Fulbright winner Jeri Howell of Frankfort, Ky., who will spend the upcoming academic year teaching English in Costa Rica. Emily Hooker of Cincinnati will teach English in France through the Teaching Assistant Program. Ashley Barker of Boston and Gray Whitsett of Owensboro, Ky., will both participate in Teach For America, with Barker teaching in Boston and Whitsett in Baton Rouge, La.
Number of ROTC graduates: 1. John Coogan ’16 not only received a bachelor of science degree in physics but also was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.
Nations and states represented: This year’s class has members from 28 states and three foreign countries: China, Ecuador and Vietnam.
Percentage of students who studied abroad: 262 graduates—87 percent of the class—studied abroad at least once during their four years at Centre. All told, the Class of 2016 spent a combined 2,268 weeks abroad over their four years at Centre. Twenty-eight percent of the graduates studied abroad two or more times, and three students studied abroad four or more times while at Centre. The Class of 2016 played a large role in Centre being named #4 in the nation for study abroad by U.S. News & World Report.
Hours of service by Bonner Scholars: 13,500, collectively. As part of Centre’s Bonner program, 15 senior Bonner Scholars and Leaders dedicated their four years to civic engagement and serving others in the surrounding communities and beyond.
Hours of community service by all Centre students: over 25,000 cumulatively. It’s no surprise, then, that Washington Monthly recently named Centre #25 in the nation for community service.
Number of athletes: 96 student-athletes graduated, five of whom participated in more than one sport. Throughout their four years, the senior student-athletes collectively achieved 25 NCAA team appearances, with the women’s soccer team making it all the way to the Final Four. The football team earned a perfect 10-0 season, only the third team in Centre history to do so and the first team since 1955.
Graduates whose parents attended Centre: 27 legacy students were numbered among the graduating class.
Graduates with siblings who attended or are currently enrolled at Centre: 45
Graduates with strongest Centre connections: Aaron Dyche has an impressive 16 fellow Centre alumni in his family tree, followed by Carter Baughman and Shannon Keene, who both join six of their relatives as Centre grads.
Number of Vice Presidential Debates the Class of 2016 witnessed on campus: 1. This year’s graduates were first-year students when 51.4 million people tuned in to the Vice Presidential Debate, hosted in Centre’s Norton Center for the Arts, on Oct. 11, 2012.
Family members and friends in attendance: 2,800. Newlin Hall held approximately 1,400 guests during the Commencement ceremony. A simulcast of the ceremony held in Centre’s Alumni Gymnasium was attended by approximately 1,250 additional guests. The simulcast in Weisiger Theatre held 200.
Number of people fed: 2,045. Sodexo Dining Services fed approximately 1,000 guests at the Family Picnic on Saturday and another 1,045 guests at the Sunday Luncheon.
After graduation: Centre graduates cross the stage career ready, with 98 percent of last year’s class employed or pursing advanced study within 10 months of graduation. This is one of many reasons the Princeton Review listed Centre as one of its “Colleges That Pay You Back,” among other “Best Value” rankings by such publications as Forbes, Money and Kiplinger’s.
Number of graduates going on to graduate school: 79.
Among early returns of graduates reporting plans to pursue further education, five have been accepted into medical school and 13 into law school, in addition to others admitted into programs in dental medicine and veterinary medicine. Members of the newly designated alumni class are also moving on to careers across the globe, ranging from work with the Americorps, to pursuing a political journalism career in Washington, D.C., to traveling to teach English internationally.
While their post-Centre pursuits vary, the 2016 graduates share a common calling as they join the ranks of the “#1 happiest grads in the nation” — a number that now totals 13,324 proud alumni.
May 24, 2016