Centre College remains one of the nation’s premier liberal arts colleges, a position secured by continued success in recruitment, record-level fundraising and a strong academic reputation, as reported during the College’s first board of trustees meeting of the 2015-16 academic year. The trustees met on Centre’s campus Oct. 1-2, the beginning of Homecoming weekend.
The meeting’s plenary session opened the two-day agenda, with discussion surrounding the College’s reaffirmation of accreditation led by Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Stephanie Fabritius and Special Assistant to the President for Institutional Research Patrick Noltemeyer ’01. Integral to the reaccreditation process, which culminates with a site visit from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges in November 2015, is the implementation of a quality enhancement plan, or QEP, for which the College has developed Creative Centre—a long-term initiative aimed at enhancing and linking creative and critical thinking in the classroom.
Board members also had the opportunity to hear special presentations from students during the opening dinner, a regular feature of the board meeting that allows trustees to diverge from fiduciary discussion to hear personal accounts about the Centre experience.
Four recent graduates returned to discuss life after Centre: C.J. Donald ’14 (Vanderbilt Law School); Michael Fryar ’14 (Rotary Global Grant Scholar); Jeff Kaplan ’12 (University of Kentucky College of Law graduate); and Julie Springate ’14 (University of Louisville School of Medicine).
Other campus accomplishments were highlighted during Friday’s luncheon, with athletics presentations given by Centre Women’s Soccer Coach Jay Hoffman ’96 and student athletes Erin Mays ’16 (field hockey second-team All-American) and Heath Haden ’16 (football quarterback). Special guests also included Centre Field Hockey Coach Jenelle Anthony and Head Football Coach Andy Frye as well as Stodghill Professor of Religion Rick Axtell and students Ellen Matthews ’17, Ionee Patel ’16 and Abigail Tudor ’16 as part of their important work with the Shepherd Consortium.
Achievements in the area of recruitment were reported by Bob Nesmith ’91, dean of admission and student financial aid, who announced that the College welcomed one of its largest-ever first-year classes. Numbering 374 students from across the globe, the Class of 2019 not only proves to be record-setting in quantity but equally as impressive in quality.
According to Nesmith, 45 percent of the first-year class consists of out-of-state students arriving at Centre from 29 states and four foreign countries, led by China.
The Class of 2019 also represents increasing trends in diversity at the College. Of the incoming American students, 17 percent represent ethnic diversity, evenly split among African American, Asian and Latino students. Nesmith stated that three out of every 10 first-year students come from traditionally underrepresented groups, an increase of 8 percent over last year’s class.
Notably, Nesmith acknowledged the marked impact of the inaugural year of the Grissom Scholars Program, as 10 high-achieving first-generation college students were selected from a pool of more than 400 national applicants. These successful recruitment efforts resulted in 20 percent of the first-year class arriving from households led by parents who did not graduate from college.
Adding to Centre’s suite of premier scholarships is the College’s new Lincoln Scholars Program, a four-year full-ride-plus scholarship opportunity set to debut in the fall of 2016. Recruitment efforts are underway to identify 10 students who meet the program’s criteria of strong character and leadership potential as well as the capacity and deep desire to change the world.
Global diversity also revealed significant increases, as Dean Fabritius announced a record 102 international students on campus, a 340 percent rise since 2012. To meet this growing demand, the International Student Experience Committee recently launched the new Centre@Home program to provide support for incoming international students in addition to an expanded foreign student orientation and a host family program.
Beyond campus, Centre’s study abroad program continues to hold its nation-leading position, with an average 85 percent of students traveling to one of 10 residential, semester-long programs, in addition to a variety of shorter programs during the three-week CentreTerm, for which 231 students are scheduled to participate in January 2016.
Vice President for College Relations Richard Trollinger reported that momentum generated from the January 2015 public launch of the $200 million Third Century Campaign continues to strengthen, with commitments now exceeding $120 million—a figure that matches the entire goal of the College’s previous campaign in 2007. As Centre prepares for the regional campaign phase to begin in early 2016, two key areas of opportunity are showing great progress: the $20 million Lincoln Scholar Challenge and the $350,000 Sutcliffe Hall Renovation Challenge.
Trollinger also announced that, for the third year in a row, the annual fund has exceeded two important milestones, including the highest dollar total in the College’s history at just under $2.7 million and a record 1,280 members in the Centre Associates giving society. Centre’s nation-leading alumni engagement also continues to thrive, as demonstrated by the nearly 1,200 graduates returning for reunions and events during the Homecoming 2015 weekend.
Additionally, Trollinger shared news of significant student scholarship support from the Margaret V. Haggin Trust and the Louisville Community Foundation, a fund established to enhance the study of modern languages at Centre by supporting student and faculty study abroad.
Randy Hays, vice president and dean of student life, emphasized Centre’s continued focus on student leadership and service. Record numbers of students are participating in the more than 70 active student organizations on campus, including an after-school program for the local ESL (English as a second language) community, a new student working group formed for the Title IX Team, the Bonner Community Service Program and Greek life, which is pursuing the addition of a fifth sorority chapter.
Robert L. Keasler Jr., vice president for finance and treasurer, provided an overview of campus enhancements that took place throughout the summer. Renovations to Old Centre included a new Admission welcome center and reception areas, while the Admission Office moved to Boles Hall in an effort to strengthen the visitor experience for prospective students and their families. The Financial Aid Office also relocated to Boles, and the Business Office can now be found in Horky House. Many updates occurred in student housing as well, such as major renovations in the newly co-ed Nevin Hall and the completion of upgrades to the bungalow on 839 West Walnut Street, which is now home to 10 students. Sutcliffe Hall’s athletic facilities underwent a transformation, while construction began on what will eventually be a new South Fields soccer complex.
In other business, the board voted to approve sabbatical leaves for 12 faculty members.
The next meeting of the Centre College Board of Trustees is scheduled for Jan. 29-30, 2016, in Louisville.
by Amy Clark Wise
October 5, 2015