Contact: Lynn Stewart, Centenary News Service

Annual President's Convocation at Centenary College to Feature Performance by The Cox Family; Induction of 4 Endowed Chairs on Tuesday, Aug. 20 

The Cox Family Singers

SHREVEPORT, LA -- What do Centenary College, the Cox Family Singers of Cotton Valley and the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? have in common?  

One bit of common ground is The Odyssey, the world's most famous and influential epic. Centenary's first-year students are studying it, the film O Brother is "based upon on The Odyssey," and the Cox Family appeared in the film and the subsequent national concert tour, Down From the Mountain. Now the renowned North Louisiana bluegrass/gospel group will share in Centenary's opening festivities with some down-home pickin' and singin' in the midst of the school's traditional President's Convocation. 

It all comes together on Tuesday, Aug. 20 at 11 a.m. in the Centenary Gold Dome. In addition to hearing from the five members of The Cox Family Singers (father Willard; son Sidney; and daughters Evelyn, Suzanne and Lynn), Centenary will welcome its new class, honor its senior class, and install four new endowed chair professors.  The Centenary Choir will sing "Keep on the Sunny Side," which was featured in O Brother, Where Art Thou?

The program is a bit of a departure from the traditional opening convocation, which usually features an inspirational lecture in Brown Chapel.  It will retain its traditional academic procession, however, with faculty and seniors marching in academic regalia and all new students joining in the official processional into reserved seating areas.  The event is open to Centenary students, the entire Centenary community and specially invited guests. 

"The Cox Family was kind enough to join us and provide our new students and the Centenary family with a special presentation for the beginning of the year," said Centenary President Kenneth L. Schwab.  "They are accomplished musicians and singers from our area and their appearance on our campus is quite an honor."

College officials noted that during this past summer, each new student received a copy of the film and Homer's Odyssey along with information about Centenary's innovative First-Year Experience (FYE) program. During the course of the year, these will form the basis for  discussions in numerous classes throughout the students' first two semesters.

In the FYE brochure for students, Dr. Steve Shelburne, FYE director, talks about the connections between the epic and the film: "Like any substantial work of art, O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a record of and a revelation to the culture that produced it. Homer's Odyssey helped teach the Greeks their values by recounting in a poetic narrative what was most important to their culture. O Brother, too, is culturally rich, and it tells us that we should value our native musical and film traditions; cultivate our versatile wit and our ability to spin elaborate tales; pursue social and economic justice; indulge our capacity for self-mocking humor and comedy -- and, oh yes, read Homer's Odyssey."

Tuesday's program will also include the installation of four faculty members into prestigious endowed chairs. They are:

  • Dr. David L. Havird, the Willie Cavett and Paul Marvin Brown Jr. Chair of English
  • Dr. Christopher S. Ciocchetti, the Mattie Allen Broyles Inaugural-Year Research Chair
  • Dr. Barbara K. Davis, the Samuel Guy Sample Chair of Business Administration
  • Dr. Juan Rodriguez, the Gus S. Wortham Chair of Engineering
The Convocation will also include music by Gay Grosz and Ross Smith, pianists; presentation of the Honor Code book by Honor Court Chief Justice Claire Galloway; an invocation by the Rev. Betsy B. Eaves, the new Chaplain of the College; and benediction by Charles Ellis Brown, vice chairman of the Centenary Board of Trustees.
Leading the procession will be Grand Marshal Earle Labor, George A. Wilson Chair of American Literature, and Faculty Marshal Rosemary Seidler, Professor of Chemistry. 

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