from Dr. Kenneth L. Schwab, President
Centenary College of Louisiana

(Excerts from the Annual Report from the President, covering the period June 1996 through May 1997)

From The President

During the past year, we refined Centenary College's Institutional Plan and implemented a new vision and purpose. I will share with you parts of our new Vision Statement and then suggest a few areas in which I believe the College will progress during the coming three to five years.

Our Vision Statement notes that since our founding in 1825, Centenary has been committed to the preservation of academic rigor, high standards of personal conduct, and the integrated development of the mind, body, and spirit of its students. It reemphasizes that we continue to encourage a lifelong dedication to learning and to serving others.

As we approach the 21st Century, the institution will continue to enhance its reputation as one of the premier student-centered liberal arts colleges in the nation -- one that leaves a positive and permanent mark on the life of every graduate. The College remains committed to the development of cultured, well-rounded individuals who will be responsible citizens, skilled in the workplace, and capable of exercising leadership.

Our student body will be diverse, comprised of persons from different cultures, geographic areas, and age groups. Guided and mentored by gifted faculty and staff, students will excel in high-quality programs. They will develop on a campus characterized by rich opportunities for interaction with out-standing scholars, artists, and leaders.

Although our primary focus will be on undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, the College will continue to offer a limited number of graduate programs that reflect the special needs of the region's population and economy.

The College will continue to be a place that nurtures and sustains high-quality teaching and learning, as well as the development of character. The College will continue to develop activities that are both educational in nature and those that are simply fun. Already known for the beauty of its setting, the institution will continue to develop and enhance the physical plant and campus grounds, both in support of the high quality of life to which we are committed and as a visual statement -- one that reflects the excellence of what takes place every day at Centenary College.

To realize this vision, Centenary will focus its efforts in four areas:

  • increase academic quality,
  • enhance student life,
  • support technology,
  • develop superior financial management, development, and external relations resources.

    In this report I will share a few examples of the progress that we made during this past year and list some of the challenges ahead of us.

    Academic quality

    The esteem in which colleges and universities are held is determined by numerous factors, but no considerations are more central than two: the excellence and variety of the programs delivered by the faculty, and the quality and responsiveness of staff who support the institution in achieving its primary mission of academic excellence.

    As a selective college approaching its third century of service, Centenary will advance the tradition of this institution as one of the nation's finest small colleges. It will maintain its high standards, continue to refine the curriculum consistent with a changing society and the needs of its students and, as always, recruit and nurture the finest faculty and staff to support the education and development of its students.

  • We need to obtain equipment, facilities and information resources necessary to support academic programs and research.

    Several elements in our current strategic plan concerning academic quality are well under way while others have been completed. These include
    -- the linking of PC clusters to the campus computer network,
    -- the renovation and equipping of a new biophysics laboratory in Mickle Hall,
    --networked access to the library catalogue and other services.

    During the past summer we repaired and treated windows and brickwork at the Meadows Museum of Art. We submitted proposals for equipment grants and were successful in several areas. We enhanced print and electronic information resources for Magale Library and installed three electronic classrooms to support innovative teaching.

    We received the largest science grant in the College's history. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute awarded $600,000 for biological and biomedical laboratories, new equipment, a multi-year research program for undergraduates, faculty development, summer research and support for a new faculty position in neurobiology. Those who write about our era describe it as the "Age of Technology," or, alternatively, the "Age of Information," in which knowledge is said to double every four years. Both terms reflect profound changes we have experienced in recent decades as a result of advancements in science and technology.

    The challenge for high-quality academic institutions is to provide equipment and information resources adequate to preparing their students not only for competence in our knowledge-intensive world but leadership as well. Toward that end, we will
    -- submit proposals for equipment grants to a wide range of sources,
    -- secure a $1 million endowment by 2003 with which to support equipment purchases,
    -- obtain funding for additional classroom space, a performance hall, a wellness facility, a science building, a renovated Moore Student Center, as well as satisfy other needs in the academic and co-curricular programs.

  • We need to increase student involvement in research and creative activities.

    Extensive research on both student learning and retention indicates that hands-on activities as a central focus of instruction, together with collaborative learning, motivate those we teach and can result in significant increases in both subject interest and overall retention. Involving science students in research is now a major emphasis at leading institutions. Centenary responded by substantially reforming its curriculum and teaching methodologies, a fact recognized by the competitive award from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute ($600,000).

    We worked to enhance the annual Student Research Forum and to provide special incentives for greater participation by students in summer research by increasing summer stipends.

    By the end of 1998, all our mathematics and science faculty will have attended Project Kaleidoscope workshops and we will have completed the development of courses that allow students to earn academic credit for research. The Natural Sciences Division developed a highly successful colloquium series focused on research which brought such notable speakers and researchers as Dr. Mark Ghiorso of the University of Washington and Dr. Steven Chu (who was named winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in October 1997), a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

    To further enhance our students' involvement in research and creative activities, we will provide funds to send students to regional and national conferences to report on their research, and we will continue to send faculty to summer workshops on reformed teaching methods.

  • We need to provide a science facility equipped to support research and teaching in the reformed, laboratory- intensive mode.

    The tradition of excellence in the sciences at Centenary College is a venerable one, documented by the fact that a member of its inaugural faculty was a founder of Louisiana's first medical school and later recognized by election to the predecessor of the National Academy of Sciences. This firm foundation in science was reinforced in our century with the Mary Warters-John Entrikin tradition that shaped contemporary Centenary science -- recently ranked as one of the top 200 mathematics/science programs in the U.S. This excellence has been recognized by acceptance of Centenary students at prestigious graduate and professional schools and the increasing number of grants made to faculty in recent years from government agencies and foundations such as the Systemic Initiative of the National Science Foundation. The present science building was erected during a period when the lecture format prevailed, undergraduate research was negligible, and safety and HVAC requirements were significantly lower than today. It is now inadequate to sustain modern science.

    During the past two years, Mickle Hall of Science has been revitalized with new lighting, paint, carpet and furniture.

    To support the new mode of teaching and to release space in Mickle Hall required for other programs, we will secure funds needed to construct and equip a new science building. Upon its completion, we will renovate Mickle Hall.

  • We need to achieve compensation parity for our faculty.

    Higher education is beginning to feel the effects of the restructuring that is taking place in industry, government, and the health professions. The force of various cost-cutting measures undertaken in the name of "downsizing" and "re-engineering" has been felt most strongly in public institutions of higher education: those subject to the political agendas of office holders. Private institutions must now examine their own budgets with even greater stringency as a result of the effects of rising costs and increasing competition. One consequence is that the cost of any decision -- however small -- is relevant. Adequate compensation, including benefits, for those responsible for the education, development, and support of our students is highly relevant as we attempt to attract and retain the best available talents. The institution will pursue measures to bring salaries in line with institutions similar in size and character to Centenary College.

  • We need to achieve compensation parity for staff.

    The College must recruit the best available talent, and salary and benefits are principal incentives in choosing Centenary over other opportunities.

  • We need to improve facilities for the social sciences.

    The Social Sciences Division is scattered among three buildings on campus. Most faculty of the social sciences -- history, political science, psychology, and sociology -- are housed in the basement of Magale Library, a space that will be needed for eventual expansion of the book/serials collection and other uses in a projected campus information center. Until the faculty located in the library basement can move to a facility that will accommodate its needs, we completed the carpeting of the basement of Magale Library and we will improve sound barriers in the classrooms.

  • We need to provide additional support for faculty and staff development.

    The College obtained funds through the Associated Colleges of the South to send faculty members to advanced computer workshops. Other avenues for training faculty will be pursued.

    We also began a series of programs through our computer services department that allows our faculty and staff to learn new competencies, including the use of the Internet and the development of materials for the College's worldwide web site.

  • We need to develop a model general education program.

    A faculty task force is developing components of the program. The first phase of the program, the common freshman experience, has been in place for the past two years.

    Enhance Student Life

    The Centenary College catalogue states the institution's purpose as: "Academic and co-curricular programs . . . support students in their development and encourage them to become leaders in the workplace, the community, the nation, and the world at large." This confirms a long-held notion at Centenary that the responsibility of the college is not only to educate students but to develop them as citizens and contributors to the world of work. The institution recognizes, as well, that the lives of students must achieve a healthy balance between study and recreation, hard work and leisure, and the mind and the body.

  • We need to improve and expand facilities to meet wellness, recreation, and social needs of students.

    Recent decades recorded a quantum increase in health consciousness, particularly among young, educated Americans. During the same period, higher education experienced a growing competitiveness, most notably in the private sector, which led institutions to increase their focus on quality of life. Several studies at Centenary concluded that the wider campus community perceives development of a wellness facility as its highest priority. In addition, students agree that the college needs facilities where individuals and groups can gather to better address their recreational and social needs.

    In response to these urgent needs, we will
    -- obtain funds for the construction of a Wellness Center,
    -- renovate and enlarge Moore Student Center,
    -- renovate Hardin Field, Hardin Tennis Courts and Haynes Gymnasium,
    -- add seating for spectators at soccer, softball and baseball fields,
    -- improve lighting at the baseball field and install lights at the soccer and softball facilities,
    -- replace lower-level seating and improve the sound system in the Gold Dome.

  • We need to upgrade student living quarters.

    In concert with the rest of American society, higher education experienced significant social changes as the campus community became a microcosm of an increasingly less-structured, informal American society.

    To provide for much-needed repair, replacement, and modernization of facilities so that the College will provide a contemporary living style to students, we renovated and equipped Rotary Hall, now Rotary Hall Suites, in the Fall of 1997 as a coed facility offering apartment-style living to our students. We also placed new furnishings in all student residence halls and will soon provide computer network access for every room on the campus.

  • We must assure a safe campus environment.

    Visitors to Centenary College comment on the exceptionally beautiful setting of our campus which is enhanced by its openness. To maintain a safe campus, the lessons of other institutions suggest that we must be constantly vigilant so that students, faculty, and staff will continue to teach and learn in the comfort and safety of our historically secure environment.

    To assist us, we are developing a campus watch network and a restricted access system for all campus facilities. Lighting has been upgraded but more will be needed in parking areas. A barrier has been erected to prevent campus drive-through, and we are working with the City of Shreveport to close Woodlawn Avenue to non-college traffic.

  • We need to develop a model freshman year program.

    Extensive research and experience focused on the freshman year has confirmed that an integrated program creatively addressing all aspects of the first year of college, from academics to providing adequate laundry facilities, is essential to student well-being and, thus, a higher rate of retention.

    We will continue to develop and enhance the freshman orientation program to better develop early student bonding with the institution. We will continue staff discussions of enhanced customer service so as to increase student satisfaction.

  • We need to develop a wide variety of activities to enrich student life.

    Centenary recognizes that the best college experience combines a high quality academic program with opportunities for students to develop as individuals, citizens, contributors to the workplace, and leaders.

    To support this multifaceted mission, we hired new administrative staff in the areas of enrollment management, student life and admissions. The largest attendances ever were recorded at the annual Parents and Family Weekend and the Fall and Spring Admissions Open Houses during 1996-97. The number of applications increased substantially and the results were outstanding for Fall enrollment.

    We also plan to
    -- increase funding for student activities,
    -- add women's golf and basketball as varsity sports,
    -- develop a $1 million endowment to support student travel to academic programs abroad,
    -- increase efforts to coordinate co-curricular events,
    -- assure at least two lectures a semester by incumbents of our endowed eminent scholars chairs.

    Support Technology

    The profound effects of powerful and affordable computers over the last two decades are not limited to business and industry. The giddy pace of the revolution taking place in what many call the Age of Information is revealed in the fact that the complex computer programming required to land human beings on the moon and return them to earth can now be accommodated in a relatively modest, hand-held instrument.

    More than half of Centenary's entering students are computer owners, and a substantial percentage have already achieved a level of computer sophistication. As a competitive institution, we must
    -- provide for the rapidly increasing and changing hardware and software needs of teaching and research,
    -- assist our faculty in developing new computer skills and integrating what they have learned into stimulating activities in the classroom and laboratory, and
    -- assure that Centenary College can legitimately present itself as an institution attuned to the daily challenges confronting academic institutions in the information age.

  • We need to complete the campus-wide information system using advanced technologies.

    The investment by Centenary College of $1 million over the past three years in computer technology reflects our recognition that we are in the midst of an information explosion that is profoundly changing the way faculty teach and students learn. Since 1993-94, the college has installed a fiber-optic backbone capable of transmitting data, voice, and video. We networked the campus and connected the local area network to the Internet, providing the campus community with direct access to the entire world.

    Students now have three PC labs available to them for general use and three additional ones in academic departments. A seventh (multimedia) lab, foreseen as a technology-based learning center, is planned. Online access to the Magale Library catalogue is now available through the worldwide web. Administrative information resources, while still supporting basic needs with a software package more than a decade old, require modernization if the college is to increase its efficiency.

    We have combined the function of the director of the library, director of computer services and overseer of the telecommunications function into one position under a chief information officer, Dr. Roger Becker. An additional technical services person has also joined the Computer Services staff.

    To seize opportunities, address needs, and solve problems, the college has completed the hardwiring of additional academic buildings and PC clusters in residence halls, giving general access to the local area network. Phase IV, now under way, will include the hardwiring of the Center for Extended Learning, the Turner Art Center and the Gold Dome.

    In Magale Library, we will
    -- obtain funding for and install a technology-based learning center, including 30 multimedia workstations and a satellite downlink,
    -- increase the number of serials available, and
    -- transform the library into a technology-based information center with the library as a nucleus by the year 2000.

    Develop Superior Financial Management, Development and External Relations Resources

    Centenary College is proud of its remarkable success over the years in achieving excellence at a very reasonable cost to students. We are cited in national publications as one of the country's "best buys," setting tuition and fees at a level half that charged at many institutions of comparable quality, including a number in our own consortium, the Associated Colleges of the South.

    Even the most cost-effective institutions need additional funds to meet the rising cost of delivering quality education. Dealing with deferred maintenance, increasing the overall quality of the college, and responding to the diverse challenges cited elsewhere in this document will require significant new investments in programs, faculty and staff, and infrastructure.

    The development of an invigorated college poised to play a major role in the new millennium can be achieved by our continued commitment to prudence in financial affairs and the attraction of additional revenues.

    The unfavorable demographics among college-age cohorts over the past decade resulted in a decreasing number of students seeking admission to college. This, in addition to rising costs and intense competition among institutions for new students, grants, private donations, and other resources, requires the institution to manage its fiscal affairs carefully. In addition to economies instituted over the past two years and the commitment that Centenary has made to maintain and enhance its endowment, the College has developed financial models to assure a balanced budget that use enrollment history, tuition, room and board charges, operating budget increases and salary increases.

  • We need to develop optimal budgetary processes and financial systems.

    Over the past two years the institution has reviewed its food services and physical facilities functions, together with auxiliary enterprises, as part of a concerted effort to increase efficiency and maximize the impact of resources available to the college.

    To further enhance our efficiency, the College has:
    -- upgraded administrative software, with initial equipment installed in the Fall of 1997 and other upgrades scheduled through January 1999.

  • We need to focus development on long-term funding sources for college needs.

    The efficient operation of the institution and its enhancement is hampered by the difficulty of addressing expensive, unforeseen problems that arise or to seize opportunities that require expenditures of resources.

    Efficiency is also hampered when rising costs affect our capacity to provide for basic needs. To attract funds to meet both current and unanticipated needs, the College has
    -- developed a Comprehensive Campaign designed to raise at least $50 million by December 2003 for the following purposes:
    -- endowments for faculty and student research, student financial aid, faculty chairs and professorships, student intercultural travel, and academic equipment;
    -- renovation and new construction projects including a wellness facility, expanded Moore Student Center, an arts complex, a new science facility, and a 21st Century information center; and
    -- gifts for current operations that are used to balance the annual budgets.

  • We need to increase enrollment to 1,000 undergraduates by the year 2000.

    In a period of steadily rising costs and intense competition in the private sector of higher education, Centenary College has its financial house in good order and is steadily improving its reputation and national visibility. It has done so, however, with periodic withdrawals from its quasi-endowment, the reserve which the college might call upon to maintain the physical plant, support programs, and provide for innovation. A significant increase in the size of the student body will generate the revenues to meet the financial needs of the College. To make this possible, we have -- increased enrollment in the entering freshman class in 1997 to 235 while improving its quality, and increasing the net tuition,
    -- communicated clear recruitment objectives to the Athletic Department and enhanced coordination with the Office of Enrollment Management,
    -- sought new ways to attract gifted students to enroll at Centenary,
    -- targeted areas which show the greatest potential for recruiting students,
    -- worked to involve parents and Centenary alumni in recruiting students,
    -- increased the extent of geographical coverage and diversity of the off-campus recruitment program,
    -- expanded into national markets,
    -- included faculty, staff, and students in recruiting efforts,
    -- enhanced campus visits through the use of tour guides and student ambassadors during open houses coinciding with Parents' Weekend and other events,
    -- enhanced letters sent to prospective students,
    -- strengthened relations with college counselors by creating a private-school counselor program and encouraging local counselors to visit campus,
    -- designed a local college night on campus,
    -- expanded admissions publications and developed a new mailings system,
    -- developed and distributed a new Centenary College video, and
    -- enhanced the level and efficiency of faculty involvement in the admissions process through training, faculty phonathons, and targeted travel.

  • We need to improve retention.

    Although Centenary is supported by a $80 million endowment and receives significant annual contributions to the Annual Fund, it still depends on tuition and fees to sustain the enterprise. Strong competition among all institutions in the private sector of higher education (and growing competition with the public sector) requires a substantial investment by the College to enroll each student.

  • We need to achieve more flexibility in management of endowed funds consistent with sound management principles.

    Centenary College enjoys an endowment significantly larger than many other institutions of its size, and it has used its income well to create a national reputation. To accomplish more and develop a competitive college for the new millennium, we must optimize the return on our endowment, thereby, making new resources available for needed improvements and promising initiatives.

    The Endowment and Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees is examining endowment allocation and spending policies to optimize growth and income and to minimize risk. They also adopted the use of "total return" in calculating rates of spending and growth.

  • We need to increase efforts to publicize the quality of the college.

    It is frequently said by distinguished visitors that Centenary College is "one of the best-kept secrets" in higher education. To a certain extent this is true. The College has not historically made the accomplishments of its faculty, students, and staff known to the world at large, and it needs to find ways to make the name of Centenary familiar in all parts of the country and other parts of the world. The College has
    -- developed a Centenary home page on the worldwide web (,
    -- increased the number of radio and television public service announcements, and developed a plan for commercial television advertising and news opportunities,
    -- compiled a campus expertise database that is listed in the Global Experts Database on the Internet,
    -- expanded news media placements via the ProfNet media service,
    -- hosted an annual media luncheon, and -- expanded efforts to increase awareness of Centenary in other countries.

  • We need to increase contact with alumni and other friends of the college.

    Many alumni have returned to the Centenary campus in recent years, with many returning for the first time since graduation. They testify about the significance of their education in their success in the workplace and as members of society. The College will increase recent efforts to stimulate interest of alumni in the College and particularly to showcase with current students the successes of graduates.

    The College will
    -- survey alumni on a regular basis,
    -- involve alumni in on- and off-campus activities,
    -- team the Career Center and Development Office in an alumni-focused effort to secure internships and employment for Centenary students,
    -- develop and recruit a geographically broad-based national Alumni Board of Directors,
    -- seek admission to the Southland Athletic Conference to increase the level of student and alumni interest in athletic events, and
    -- increase and coordinate efforts to identify alumni by academic major and maintain contact with their former departments.

  • We need to acquire land on the campus periphery to support future growth, increase security, and enhance the attractiveness of the neighborhood.

    It has been a long-standing goal of Centenary College to grow, but its growth is limited by the small size of its campus which lessens opportunities for future construction. Aesthetic and security considerations are also reasons to develop a buffer around the campus so that its beauty will not be compromised by incompatible developments within eye view of the institution, and that access to the campus is controlled by the institution.