(February 21, 2008)

Contact: Rick DelaHaya, Centenary News Services, 318.869.5073

Centenary Kicks Off Homecoming Week with Morning Call and Founders' Day Convocation

SHREVEPORT, La. - Homecoming began today at Centenary College with several annual traditions and several special events coincident with the Centennial Celebration of 100 years in Shreveport-Bossier.

Morning Call announced Dr. Harold Christensen as the recipient of the Charlton Lyons Summer Research Award, which he will use to study the economic history of the Apache Railroad. And the campus community honored long-serving members of the faculty and staff:

  • 10 years: Carol Bender, Loren Demerath, Brenda Galambos, Scott Merritt, Ross Smith, Julia Thorn, David Williams
  • 15 years: Lyle Baker, Dana Kress
  • 20 years: Kathy Fell, Don Hooper, Sonja Smith, Randy Walker
  • 25 years: Jeannie Clements, Vicki LeFevers, Christy Wrenn

At Morning Call, President Ken Schwab also revealed two prestigious honors at the College. Dian Tooke, Director of Service Learning, received the President's Excellence Award, given to a staff member who has demonstrated exemplary loyalty and service to the College. And Dr. David Thomas, Professor Mathematics, is the Outstanding Teacher of 2008.

"For 15 years, Dian Tooke has helped Centenary students understand what their liberal arts education can mean for the larger world. She has led by example, serving our local community with determination and creativity. So too, Dr. Thomas has earned a reputation for helping students really understand mathematics, which we all know is not always a very popular subject. For more than 30 years, he has demonstrated devotion and commitment to Centenary students, so it is time that we officially honor him in this way."

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Following these announcements, the time capsule buried on campus fifty years ago was revealed. Parker Jarnigan, the current Student Government Association vice president for internal affairs, introduced Charles Wilder, the SGA president in 1958 when the time capsule was buried, who described what the campus looked like in his day: many new buildings, like the James residence hall that featured very strict rules for the women who lived there. Mr. Wilder also described what the original time capsule held: a photo of first-year students dressed up as they thought the students of 2008 would look, a microfilm of the Centenary section of The Times, the 1958 student handbook, and other documents important to the campus community.

Apparently not waterproof, the copper pipe that served as the time capsule and recreations of the documents it contained are now on exhibit in the Magale Library foyer. The sundial where the time capsule remained these fifty years outside Brown Chapel was donated by the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, represented today by current president Dick Bremer, who charged Centenary to maintain excellence in liberal arts education for another hundred years: "It is important that we have quality educational capability in Shreveport-Bossier." Mr. Bremer invited the campus community to drive downtown past the Chamber building soon as they will hang a banner honoring Centenary across it this weekend.

Current students Amanda Fontenot and Jessica Coker then explained how plans for a new capsule, to be placed on campus at the end of this year, are in the works.

To end Morning Call, Dr. Schwab began the groundbreaking ceremony for the Riggs Memorial Plaza and Leadership Fountain, describing the evolution of this campus beautification project: the 2001 business leadership class crafted a plan for the Leadership Fountain and raised more than $40,000 for the project, then the 2003 business leadership class connected that plan with fundraising for student scholarships as the Paving the Way Campaign, which is when the project caught the eye of Leonard Riggs, Jr. '64, who designated part of his parents' estate to the larger plan of landscaping the quadrangle between Mickle and Hamilton Halls as a garden space.

Today's ceremonial groundbreaking brought together the following shovel-bearers in the Whited Room of Bynum Commons: Mike Alost of Slack Alost Architecture; Brittany Anderson, member of the 2001 leadership class; William G. Anderson, Chairman of the Board of Trustees; Hoyt Bain, president of Centenary's National Alumni Association; Jane James, donor to the original fountain project; Parker Jarnigan, representing the current SGA; Harry McInnis of McInnis Construction; and Kenneth L. Schwab, president of Centenary College.

Immediately following Morning Call and the ceremonial ground-breaking, the campus gathered in Brown Memorial Chapel for the traditional Founders' Day Convocation. Even rain showers could not dampen the spirits of those in attendance as guests, students, faculty and staff heard President Schwab proclaim the importance of the day's convocation.

"We remember our beginnings, our heritage of our liberal arts institution and our Methodist traditions since 1825," Dr. Schwab said. "But this year we commemorate 100 years of this campus in Shreveport and Bossier City. Our Centennial honors those in the community who saw the potential in those early years, who made Centenary a reality and has sustained us for the past one hundred years."

Dr. Schwab continued that Centenary has played a vital role in the Shreveport-Bossier City community and has cultivated strong partnerships with the place the College calls home. Not dwelling on history, he said he looks forward to the future with great expectations.

On hand to speak of the history of the College, "iconic" guest speaker Dr. Lee Morgan, Professor Emeritus and College Historian, spoke light-heartedly of the past 100 years, and gave a 12-minute history lesson by listing the past presidents and their accomplishments for the College. Joking with the crowd, he stated that he wished he had more time, but he felt "similar to an Egyptian mummy . . . pressed for time."

Dr. Morgan kept the crowd captivated by highlighting the presidents' accomplishments, stopping three times for applause and laughter. He entertained the crowd with stories of football days at the College, the achievements of students and faculty, and the how the College survived through efforts by Presidents George Sexton and Donald Webb.

Mayor of Bossier City, Lorenz "Lo" Walker, followed Dr. Morgan and read a joint proclamation from Shreveport and Bossier City, proclaiming February 21 as Centenary Day in the cities. "I am proud to read this proclamation on behalf of the cities of Shreveport and Bossier," he said. "I am proud to be a part of this today since Centenary is where I first started by formal college education by taking a night class here. Congratulations!"

The convocation ended with a touching tribute by President Emeritus Dr. Donald Webb. After reading a resolution from the State of Louisiana, Dr. Webb told of his favorite place on the Centenary Campus: Brown Memorial Chapel. "I would come here everyday at 6:30 in the morning and pray," he recalled. "Every day was a different prayer because each day was different."

"This is a great place of reflection, a place where you can find the words and inspiration. This house of God is where you reach over . . . reach out."

About Centenary College of Louisiana

Centenary College is a private, four-year arts and sciences college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Founded in 1825, it is the oldest chartered liberal arts college west of the Mississippi River and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Centenary is one of 16 colleges and universities constituting the Associated Colleges of the South and is regularly rated as one of the top colleges in the South. In 2008 Centenary College celebrates 100 years in Shreveport and Bossier City.