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Centre College
Centre College seal
Motto Doctrina lux mentis
Learning is the light of the mind (Latin)
Established January 21, 1819
Type Private undergraduate Liberal arts
Endowment $159.5 million[1]
President John A. Roush
Faculty 145
Students 1,215
Location Danville, Kentucky, U.S.
Campus National Register of Historic Places, 150 acres (61 ha), 64 buildings
Colors Old Gold & White
Mascot Colonel
Athletics NCAA Division III, Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

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 km) south of Lexington, KY. Centre was founded by Presbyterian leaders in 1819.



Old Centre

Centre College received its charter from the Kentucky Legislature on January 21, 1819 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 in 1862.

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 officially merged with Centre in 1926 - although the women didn't move onto Centre's campus until 1962.

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".[2] ESPN has called it one of the biggest upsets in sports during the twentieth century.[3] 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.

Norton Center for the Arts the morning of the 2000 Vice Presidential Debates

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.[4] 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,[5] 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.

The campus is currently changing with some frequency: a new student residence, Pearl Hall, was completed in 2008; a new campus center opened in October 2009; and construction for a new science wing on Young Hall will be completed in 2010.

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."


Centre's 150-acre (61 ha) campus has 64 buildings, 13 of which are included on the National Register of Historic Places.


Old Centre

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.

Old Carnegie

Built in 1913 from a $10,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie, 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

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, Henry Mancini, jazz vocalists Pearl Bailey and Sarah Vaughn, the Orchestre de Paris with Daniel Barenboim, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Beach Boys, Willie Nelson, Travis Tritt, Leann Rimes, Lyle Lovett, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, crooner Tony Bennett, 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, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Hairspray, My Fair Lady and Ain't Misbehavin' featuring Ruben Studdard. 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 feet (7,900 m2) complex was designed by architect William Wesley Peters of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

The Norton Centre for the Arts is currently undergoing refurbishment and will be finished during the 2009-2010 school year.

The College Centre

Construction of 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 and renovation. Crounse Hall now houses an enlarged library, theater, and additional classrooms, while Sutcliffe Hall now has over 62,000 square feet (5,800 m2) 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.

Craik House

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.

Pearl Hall

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 was finished in time for students to move into in August 2008. Dedication of the building took place during homecoming in October 2008. It houses 146 students.

Pearl Hall was built with a gift from Centre trustee Robert Brockman '63. The residence hall is named in memory of Brockman's mother and grandmother, both of whom were named Pearl. It is the first LEED GOLD residential hall in the state of Kentucky.

The Campus Center

Campus Center

In October 2009, construction of the Campus Center was completed. This facility houses Cowan Dining Commons, the Everyday Cafe, and various academic offices. It is located opposite Old Centre, between Main Street and Walnut Street.


Centre ranked 14th nationally by Forbes in 2009, and in 2010 was named the number one Southern college by Forbes [6] US News & World Report list, and is the highest-ranking baccalaureate college in Kentucky. In 2007, Centre was ranked by Consumer Digest as best value among private, liberal arts schools in the nation.[7] Loren Pope's Colleges That Change Lives says "No university faculty compares with Centre's in the impact it has on the growth of young minds and personalities."


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 70% 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.

Degrees offered

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, France, Japan, and Latin America, and it has short-term study program locations in India, Vietnam, New Zealand, Greece, Indonesia, Australia, Cameroon, Russia, Turkey, 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.

Student life

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.

Greek Life

Greek Housing along West Walnut Street

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.


Centre competes in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. It is a former member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Men's intercollegiate sports are baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, and track and field. Women's intercollegiate sports are basketball, cross country, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. 40% of the student body participates. It offers 15 intramural sports in which 80% of the students participate.[8]


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.

C6H0 Team

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 alumni 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. [9] Among the most notable:


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2009. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2009 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2008 to FY 2009" (PDF). 2009 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  2. ^ Litsky, Frank (2006-10-28). "Football: Campus Playbook". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-12-12. 
  3. ^ "ESPN names Centre's 1921 win over Harvard as a "Biggest College Football Upset"". 
  4. ^ McCaleb, Ian Christopher (2000-10-06). "An auspicious moment for tiny Centre College, town of Danville". CNN. Retrieved 2009-12-12. 
  5. ^ "Opening of the College Centre". 
  6. ^ "Best Colleges 2010: Centre College". US News and World Report. Retrieved 2009-12-12. 
  7. ^ "Consumers Digest Names 100 Colleges/Universities Top Values". PR 2007-05-01. Retrieved 2009-12-12. 
  8. ^ "Centre Athletics". Centre College. Retrieved 2009-12-12. 
  9. ^ "Famous Alumni of Centre College". 

External links

Coordinates: 37°38′36″N 84°46′52″W / 37.643325°N 84.780979°W / 37.643325; -84.780979


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