Stuart W. Sanders ’95, the history advocate for the Kentucky Historical Society, saluted Centre’s long tradition of service in his Founders Day address at Centre College on Jan. 17.
“Two themes that have resonated throughout the College’s 200-year history are service and the national impact made by the College and its alumni,” he told the standing-room-only audience.
Centre received its charter from the Kentucky legislature on Jan. 21, 1819.
He cited James G. Birney, one of the College’s founding trustees, who freed his slaves in 1834, started anti-slavery newspapers, first in Danville and later in Cincinnati, and became a national figure in the fight to abolish slavery in this country.
He also mentioned Lewis W. Green, who was among the first two graduates in 1824 and became a prominent Presbyterian minister. Returning as Centre’s fifth president, Green kept the College open during the Civil War but died caring for sick and wounded soldiers after the Battle of Perryville. More recent alumni mentioned included Crit Luallen ’74, who served as Kentucky’s state auditor and lieutenant governor, and Terena Bell ’99, who built a translation company of 1,200 translators working in more than 180 languages.
A history major at Centre, Sanders was executive director of the Perryville Battlefield Preservation Association, a not-for-profit organization that preserves and interprets Kentucky’s largest Civil War battleground, before joining the Kentucky Historical Society.
He has written three books about Kentucky during the Civil War, including Perryville Under Fire: The Aftermath of Kentucky’s Largest Civil War Battle and The Battle of Mill Springs, Kentucky.
In addressing the relevance of history, Sanders quoted a group of historians who recently wrote:
“No place really becomes a community until it is wrapped in human memory . . .
No place is a community until it has [an] awareness of its history. Our connections
and commitment to one another are strengthened when we share stories and
Added Sanders, “This is also why celebrating Centre’s bicentennial is so important. Our traditions, accomplishments, times of sacrifice, and stories of service are the cords that bind us together. Thinking about Centre’s 200 years helps students and alumni find their own place within the larger stories of the college. Despite our differences, this history brings us together to celebrate something good and meaningful.”
By Diane Johnson
January 19, 2018
An abridged version of Stuart Sander’s Founders Day address will run in the spring issue of the Centrepiece alumni magazine.