(August 26, 2010)

Contact: Rick DelaHaya, Centenary News Services, 318.869.5073

Centenary Kicks Off Academic Year with Convocation

SHREVEPORT, La. (Centenary News Service) —In a scene that has been part of the history of the College, freshman were welcomed by seniors as they passed along the walkway leading up to Brown Chapel on August 25 as part of the traditional President's Convocation.

convocation march
Members of the senior class welcome the Class of 2014 as they process into Brown Chapel during the annual President's Convocation.

The event marked the beginning of the academic year, with freshman applauded and escorted into the chapel, followed by the arrival of the faculty and staff dressed in full academic regalia.

Centenary President, Dr. David Rowe, formally welcomed the students, taking note not only to introduce the Class of 2014, but also those who have come before them including the senior class, and the guides and mentors that helped lead them on the first steps of their journey at Centenary.

"There is a special group of students here today who are beginning the last steps of one journey and the beginnings of another," he said. "Please join me in recognizing the Class of 2011, the stewards of the Centenary Legacy who are the wise, caring and moral leaders who will encircle the world."

Turning to recognize the next group gathered in the chapel, he gave special thanks to the upper-class students who spent weeks preparing for the arrival of the incoming class to help guide them during their move-in and orientation.

Pointing to the choir-loft in the rear of the chapel, Dr. Rowe urged the freshman class to join him in thanking the group of students in the "bright green t-shirts." "I think the first-year students particularly, will want to join me in thanking this group; those leaders who gave shape, wisdom, guidance and fun to the 'Best Week Ever!'"

Returning his attention to the incoming class, he welcomed them to Centenary College and joked that he told them there would be a test and that they needed to be prepared.

"I told you last week in this very space that there would be a test," Dr. Rowe said. "Heads up, here is the test."

He told them how Centenary College welcomes them with open arms and how eager the institution was to learn of the gifts they bring to the College community including their experiences, their promises and their dreams for the future.

"I know this solemn assembly joins me in welcoming the Class of 2014!"

At that moment, the entire incoming class responded, "The Best Class ever!"

Watch a retrospective, including the President's welcome to Class of 2014.

"You passed the test," he told them with a big smile.

Continuing, Dr. Rowe told those gathered that this is an important year for Centenary College and that the knowledge they'll gain during their time at the College will impact the world.

"This is an important year in the life of Centenary College," he said. "Centenary College will define church-related liberal arts education for the 21st Century. It is time now to put our 185-year tradition of church related liberal arts education in the conversation with the needs of the world for the 21st century."

Echoing Dr. Rowe's comments about the importance the liberal arts in today's world, guest speaker John Churchill, chief executive officer and secretary of Phi Beta Kappa Society, saying that education in the liberal arts is to celebrated, and that students should challenge themselves and think critically about their thoughts and beliefs.

"This morning's celebration is evidence that we can rally for the cause of enlightenment," Churchill said. "But there is more to protecting freedom of inquiry and expression than simply safe-guarding access to the facts. Of course there is, in this age of inundation with information, a problem about simply getting the facts right. Indeed, facts are important. They are necessary. But they are not enough, and without context, even the facts themselves can be deadly."

He also told those gathered for the solemn ceremony that they should use their education to understand the world around them and the value of respect for diversities of perspective. It is not the facts, he said, but critical thinking, concern for values and debate that allow students to grow.

"A few years ago we asked members of Phi Beta Kappa, all over the country, to discuss what they found of lasting value about their education in the liberal arts and sciences," he said. "Few people talked about accumulating facts. Few talked about becoming learned. Most said something that amounted to this: Their education gave them a lasting ability to think critically and creatively about difficult topics. It wasn't the French they learned and then forgot, or the intricacies of Thomas Hobbes's views on the foundations of government, or something about the periodic chart. What they valued was a certain capacity of reflective and deliberative thought."

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 has been recognized as "One of the Best 373 Colleges" by the Princeton Review and one of "America's Best Colleges" and one of by Forbes.com. In 2008 Centenary College celebrated 100 years in Shreveport and Bossier City.