Holiday Message from President Dr. Kenneth Schwab
On behalf of all of us in the Centenary family, it is my pleasure to wish you and your family a joyous holiday season and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
I find that the holiday season is a natural time to pause and reflect upon the year that has just been completed, and as I contemplate the past year, one overwhelming feeling springs to mind—pride—the pride that is felt knowing our College has made such a difference for so many.
2008 has been extraordinary at Centenary College. Together our goals have been ambitious, our challenges varied and interesting, and our accomplishments many. Without the tireless efforts of our students, faculty, staff and friends, we would not have been able to achieve what we have. Everyone's generous and continuing support made our progress possible.
We started the year commemorating our 100th anniversary in the Shreveport-Bossier communities. This centennial year has provided the College with a unique opportunity to showcase not only our proud history but also our current programs and services. It has also been our platform for launching our next 100 years. We ended the year with the success of the Centennial Gala, an exciting Celebrity Waiters event held at East Ridge Country Club with more than 400 guests. The event netted more than $168,000 to establish two new first-generation scholarships and provide $48,000 for General Annual Scholarships!
As a community, we can look back at this past year and be proud of our accomplishments. Some of these include receiving more than $1 million for endowed professorships from the Louisiana Board of Regents, the appointment of 11 new Board of Trustee members, and many significant gifts to the college. We have also received notification this month of our reaffirmation of reaccreditation by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Part of the reaffirmation process was the approval of our Quality Enhancement Plan, which revamps our already successful Centenary Plan. Most importantly, we saw first-year enrollment for freshmen rise to 246 students, an increase of nearly 23 percent. And as we look to next year's class, we had a 72 percent increase of first-time visitors to the campus through the Admissions Office and an increase of more than 40 percent in applications from this time last year!
Our students continue to be champions in the classroom and in the community. For example, after six years of effort, the student-driven research project on nitric oxide will be published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and will appear in print in early 2009. Six of our Centenary alumni were recognized by the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce as 2008 "40 under 40" award winners. Our music department continued to garner awards, and in November, one of our music majors captured the Governor's Award during the Southern Region National Association of Teachers of Singing Conference. Just recently, the fall production of "Metamorphoses" gained entry into one of eight regional competitions for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival with the winner advancing to the finals for a shot at staging the show at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.
We continue to educate talented students, thanks to the commitment of our accomplished faculty. Our professors have received grants, such as the Cottrell College Science Award to Dr. Mary Robert Garrett for her work in organic chemistry. Many of our faculty had works published, including Dr. Ken Aizawa, Dr. Peter Huff, Dr. Ed Leuck II, and Dr. David Bedard. And finally, Dr. Lee Morgan, Professor Emeritus of English, completed Centenary College of Louisiana, 1825-2000: The Biography of an American Academy, the first history of the College to be written since 1930. To top off the year, we awarded tenure to six wonderful professors.
Obviously, these are just a few snapshots of the range of accomplishments that we as a college have to celebrate and I know that each and every department can point to their own successes throughout the past year.
But for all our successes, we have many challenges ahead for the New Year. Like many other institutions of higher learning around the country, we too, are faced with issues brought on by the global economic crisis.
We are in the process of taking steps to implement $1.5 million in budget reductions. To achieve this, there have been reductions in operating budgets, travel and training for staff members, and in various other expense reductions. To curb budgets, a number of staff positions and several vacated faculty positions will go unfilled. I am pleased to say we were able to accomplish these operating reductions with the intent of minimizing any impacts on our core academic mission.
These are just some of the actions we are taking to make sure the College remains financially sound. These actions are painful and require sacrifice by all of us here at the College. But acting together with our own ingenuity and "can-do attitude," we can ensure we remain one of the best colleges in the country.
I remain confident that despite any challenges, as a community, we will continue to offer the highest quality education in a student-friendly campus environment. We will continue to be responsive to our students and to the needs of our community. We will achieve our mission.
I appreciate all that you have done this past year, your loyalty and your continued support. Thank you for your commitment, your drive and your energy as we move into a new year of educating and preparing young people for rewarding and successful lives. As we look forward to 2009, let us all be grateful for our many blessings, a new year of hope, and a season of promise.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for the New Year!
President, Centenary College