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 College received its charter from the Kentucky Legislature
on January 21
and classes began in the fall of 1820 in Old Centre, the first building on campus and the oldest college administration building west of the Allegheny Mountains. The Greek Revival
structure was built at the cost of $8,000 and has housed a grammar school, a law school, classrooms, a student dormitory, a hospital, a chapel, a dining hall, a library, and administrative offices. Old Centre served as a Civil War Hospital during the Battle of Perryville
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."
Completed in 1820, Old Centre is a Greek Revival
structure and was the College's first building. It has been used as a library, dormitory, and during the Civil War, a hospital. Today it houses the offices of the president, vice president for academic affairs, and vice president for college relations, as well as the College's Admissions Welcome Centre. Old Centre is a Kentucky Landmark, listed in the National Register of Historic Places
, and included in the Smithsonian Guide to Historic Places.
It is the oldest continuously operating academic building west of the Alleghenies.
Built in 1913, Old Carnegie was the College library until 1966 and currently houses the Career Services and the Center for Global Relations.
Norton Center for the Arts
Centre's Norton Center for the Arts has hosted performers such as violinist Itzhak Perlman
, dancers Mikhail Baryshnikov
and Twyla Tharp
, the Boston Pops
, The Chieftains
, Three Dog Night
, David Copperfield
, Dolly Parton
, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
, Ben Folds
, They Might Be Giants
, and musicals such as Rent, Titanic, Annie Get Your Gun, Hairspray
and My Fair Lady
. In October 2000, the Norton Center hosted the Vice-Presidential Debate with Dick Cheney
and Senator Joe Lieberman
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.
The College Centre
Opened in the spring of 2005, the College Centre took center stage on campus, so to speak. The College Centre is composed of two buildings, Crounse Hall and Sutcliffe Hall, which both received multi-million dollar expansion/renovation. Crounse Hall now houses an enlarged library, theater, and additional classrooms, while Sutcliffe Hall now has over in athletic space including several new gymnasiums and workout facilities.
The Old Bookstore (Stuart Hall)
This building was the first chapter house of any fraternity in Kentucky, holding the brothers of the Epsilon Chapter of Beta Theta Pi. Before it came into Centre's hands, it was also used as a funeral home and as a shoe store. It was later converted to the Campus Bookstore, and in 2005 the bookstore moved to a new location, leaving the building empty. In 2008, it was rededicated as Stuart Hall, an upperclassmen residential facility. It was so named in honor of John T. Stuart
, class of 1826.
Built in 1853 and renovated in 1958, this is the president's home. Originally a private residence, it was bought in 1937 with a bequest in honor of his class from Henry Craik, Centre Class of 1890. It was first presidentially occupied by Robert L. McLeod, the 14th president of Centre. The Craik House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
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.
In addition to individual majors, Centre offers self-designed majors, as well as double-majors and dual-degree engineering programs with Columbia University
, University of Kentucky
, Vanderbilt University
, and Washington University (St. Louis)
The Centre Commitment
The "Centre Commitment" guarantees three things during a student's time at the college: one, an internship; two, graduation with four years, or Centre will provide up to a year of additional study tuition-free; and three, that students have the option to study abroad during their time at Centre. The college maintains permanent, residential sites in England
, and Latin America
, and it has short-term study program locations in India
, New Zealand
, and San Salvador Island
. A recent study compiled by Milton Reigelman, director of Centre's international programs, shows that 86 percent of 2006 Centre graduates studied abroad.
About 96% of Centre's students live on campus and participate in athletics, academic organizations, student government, and volunteer work. There are about 100 clubs, societies, teams and other formal and informal groups that sponsor more than 2,000 campus events each year. Centre has an active Greek life
There are currently chapters of:
Centre was also home to now-defunct chapters of other national fraternities and sororities including
- Alpha Chi Phi, (1868 - 1870's, absorbed by Epsilon chapter of Beta Theta Pi)
- Alpha Kappa Phi, Alpha chapter (1858 - 1876)
- Alpha Kappa Pi, Beta Kappa chapter (1932 - 1936)
- Beta Theta Pi, Epsilon Chapter (1848-2006, inactive 1862-1871)
- Delta Kappa, (1850's - 1879, absorbed by Kentucky Alpha chapter of Phi Delta Theta)
- Delta Kappa Epsilon, Iota Chapter (1854-2002, inactive 1860-1865)
- Chi Omega (1988-1992)
- Phi Gamma Delta, Iota Chapter (1855-1856)
- Kappa Alpha Order, Omega Chapter (1883-1933)
Centre is also home to a variety of Academic and Leadership Greek Honorary Societies including:
"Running the Flame"
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.
Kissing on the Seal
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.
The Colonels won the Fort Worth Classic
, a postseason college football bowl game, played only once, on January 1, 1921 in Fort Worth, Texas
over Texas Christian University
63-7. On January 2, 1922 Centre College made the postseason trip to Texas again this time taking on Texas A&M College in the Dixie Classic, the forerunner of the Cotton Bowl. Even though the Colonels were outscored 22-14, they played their part in the birth of one of college football's greatest traditions, the 12th Man
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.
Centre competes in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. It is a former member of Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
Over the last 25 years, Centre ranks first in the country for the percentage of former students making gifts. Centre is thus known as the college with "America's Most Loyal Alumni." Centre alumni have figured prominently in U.S. history. They include two U.S. vice presidents
, one Chief Justice of the United States
, an Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court
, 13 U.S. Senators
, 43 U.S. Representatives
, 10 moderators of the General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church
, and 11 governors
. Others have become leaders in teaching, business, medicine, law and journalism. Among the most notable:
- Joshua Fry Bell: One of the first alumni to serve in Congress.
- General Joseph Holt, United States Commissioner of Patents, United States Postmaster General, United States Secretary of War and Judge Advocate General of the United States Army. Leading judge in the trials of the Abraham Lincoln assassination.
- John T. Stuart, 1826: U.S. Congressman, lawyer, law partner of Abraham Lincoln
- Rev. Samuel D. Burchard, 1837: Clergyman whose "Rum, Romanism and rebellion" speech may have cost James G. Blaine the 1884 presidential election
- John Cabell Breckinridge, 1838: Vice President of the United States under James Buchanan; candidate for President in 1864; Confederate general.
- John Christian Bullitt, 1849: powerful attorney in Philadelphia, drafted the city's charter and founded the law firm of Drinker, Biddle & Reath.
- John Marshall Harlan, 1850: Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States for 34 years. Harlan cast the lone dissenting vote in Plessy v. Ferguson 1896; the text of his dissent became the basis for Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.
- Augustus Stanley,1889; 38th Governor of Kentucky. Grandfather of famous LSD chemist Owsley Stanley.
- Adlai E. Stevenson, 1859: Vice President of the United States under Grover Cleveland.
- Frederick M. Vinson, 1909, Law 1911: Chief Justice of the United States.
- Cawood Ledford, 1949: Voice of the University of Kentucky Wildcats.
- James S. Rollins, U.S. Representative
- E.A. Diddle, 1920: legendary basketball coach of Western Kentucky University, member of the Basketball Hall of Fame
- Alvin Nugent "Bo" McMillin, 1922: Three time All-American quarterback, member of the College Football Hall of Fame, NFL and college football coach
- John Y. Brown, Sr., congressman
- Isaac Tigrett, 1970: Founder of the Hard Rock Cafe and the House of Blues
- Stephen Rolfe Powell, 1974: Internationally acclaimed glass blower
- John Hohrn, 1977: Actor and Mississippi State Senator
- Raymond Burse, 1973: Rhodes Scholar, General Counsel for General Electric, former President of Kentucky State University
- Crit Luallen, current Auditor of Public Accounts for the Commonwealth of Kentucky
- Fulton Brock, Maricopa County Supervisor, District 1