Centre College is a private, four-year liberal arts college located in Danville, Kentucky, USA, a community of about 16,000 in Boyle County, approximately 35 miles (56.3 km) south of Lexington, KY. Centre was founded by Presbyterian leaders in 1819, ranks 44th nationally among top liberal arts schools in the 2008 US News & World Report list, and is the highest-ranking nationally ranked college or university in Kentucky. In 2007, Centre was ranked by Consumer Digest as best value among private, liberal arts schools in the nation. In 2008, the College was ranked as the 13th best college in the nation by Forbes Magazine. The campus has 64 buildings, 13 of which are included on the National Register of Historic Places. Centre College is also listed in Loren Pope's Colleges That Change Lives. In describing the college, Pope says, "No university faculty compares with Centre's in the impact it has on the growth of young minds and personalities."
Centre faced early financial hardships, disputes within and outside the Presbyterian Church, and six wars (including the occupation of Old Centre by both Confederate and Union troops during the Civil War). A Centre alumnus, John Todd Stuart, played a formative role in American history by encouraging Abraham Lincoln to study for the bar and by serving as Lincoln's professional and political mentor. In its years of growth that followed the Civil War, Centre became affiliated with various institutions including the Kentucky School for the Deaf, also in Danville, which was originally controlled by the Centre board of trustees. In 1901, Central University in Richmond, Kentucky was consolidated with Centre, and the Kentucky College for Women merged with Centre in 1926.
In 1921, Centre upset Harvard University's undefeated football team 6-0 which The New York Times later called "Football's Upset of the Century". ESPN has called it one of the biggest upsets in sport during the twentieth century. Today, "C6H0" remains a point of pride among students and alums and is the answer to "What is the formula for a winning football team?" It is also a clever play on the elements of the periodic table - carbon is "6", but hydrogen is "1."
During the 1960s the college's financial resources doubled. Eleven new buildings were added to the campus and enrollment increased from 450 to 800. Today, enrollment hovers around 1,215, with nearly 150 faculty members.
Dr. John A. Roush, who took office in 1998, is the college's 20th president. In 2000, Centre became the smallest college ever to host a national election debate. Dick Cheney and Senator Joe Lieberman debated on October 5 at Centre's Norton Center for the Arts. The event was moderated by CNN's Bernard Shaw.
In 2005, the College completed The College Centre, a $22-million project to expand and renovate Suttcliffe Hall, the Crounse Academic Center and Grace Doherty Library, which was the largest construction project on campus since the Norton Center was built in 1973.
A new student residence, Pearl hall, has been constructed, a new campus center is being constructed, and planning is underway for a new science and math center.
Classes at Centre are rarely cancelled. Prior to the Vice Presidential Debate in 2000, the last time classes were officially cancelled was due to the Great Blizzard of 1978, although in 1994 and 1998, when severe snow and ice storms shut down much of the state, classes were delayed by half a day. Classes were also cancelled in the spring of 2000 due to a hazardous chemical spill on the train tracks found at the end of "Greek Row." The entire campus was evacuated. On March 7, 2006, classes were cut short due to a symposium honoring retiring Dean John Ward. Ironically, Dean John Ward had made the statement in 1997, following a large snow storm, "Centre didn't cancel classes during parts of the Civil War, we're not cancelling them now."
The Norton Center for the Arts was built in 1973 and originally named the Regional Arts Center (RAC). It was later renamed for Jane Morton Norton, a former trustee of Centre College. The 85,000 square foot (8,000 m²) complex was designed by architect William Wesley Peters of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.
The Norton Centre for the Arts will be undergoing refurbishment during the 2008-2009 school year.
During homecoming festivities in 2005, plans were announced for the construction of a new residence hall. Construction of the three-floor facility, named Pearl Hall, which is located on Main Street, began in May 2007 after commencement and will be finished in time for students to move into in August 2008. Dedication of the building will take place during homecoming in October 2009. A groundbreaking ceremony for Pearl Hall was held in April of 2008. It will house 146 students.
Pearl Hall is being built with a gift from Centre trustee Robert Brockman '63. The residence hall is named in memory of Brockman's mother and grandmother, of whom were both named Pearl.
Ninety-eight per cent of Centre professors have a Ph.D. or equivalent degree, and the student/faculty ratio is 11 to 1. The campus has active chapters of Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa, and has produced two-thirds of Kentucky's Rhodes Scholars in the last 50 years and 27 Fulbright Scholar winners in the last 10 years. It is among the smallest coeducational colleges to have a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, and is the only private institution in Kentucky with a chapter.
Centre was also home to now-defunct chapters of other national fraternities and sororities including
Centre is also home to a variety of Academic and Leadership Greek Honorary Societies including:
Forty years ago a large metal sculpture named "The Flame" was installed at the center of campus. In the 1980s, students began a tradition of running from their dorm and today the fraternity houses to The Flame and back in the nude. "Running the flame" has become a tradition for some students on campus to complete prior to their graduation.
College tradition holds that if two students kiss over the college Seal set in the sidewalk in front of Old Centre at the stroke of midnight, they will get married following graduation. Many Centre grads, in fact, end up marrying each other.
Fred M. Vinson, class of 1909, died in 1953 and hasn't missed a football game since. A portrait of Vinson, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, hangs in the hallway of the chapter house of the Kentucky Alpha-Delta chapter of Phi Delta Theta, on Centre's campus. Vinson was a member of the chapter in his years at Centre. Members of the chapter take the portrait, affectionately known as "Dead Fred," to Centre football and basketball games, as well as other fraternity events. Legend has it that after a particularly tough Centre loss, the portrait can be seen to shed a tear.
At the beginning of the Roaring '20s, Harvard University, the nation's dominant football power, was riding a two-year undefeated streak whose last loss was to Brown in 1918. Then the Crimson invited Centre College (enrollment at that time: 264) up to Cambridge for what they thought would be a "warm-up" game, a light workout before facing Princeton the following week.
In the 1921 Centre vs. Harvard football game, the Colonels (under coach Charley Moran) shocked Harvard University and became the first school ever from outside the East to beat one of the Ivy League's "Big Three" of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Star player Bo McMillin rushed for the lone touchdown of the game early in the third quarter, and the Praying Colonels' defense held off the Crimson's powerful offense from there for a 6-0 victory.
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