Centenary celebrates Founders Day with awards, convocation

John Atkins delivers the 2018 Founders' Day address in Brown Chapel.

SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary College observed its annual Founders’ Day on Thursday, February 22, handing out service pins and special awards and convening for the Founders’ Day convocation in Brown Chapel. Board of Trustees member John Atkins gave the convocation address, reflecting on Centenary’s 110th anniversary in Shreveport and his family’s role in bringing the College to the city in 1908.

Centenary was located in Jackson, Louisiana from the mid-19th century onward, but by the early 1900s the College was searching for a new home, at the same time that some forward-thinking Shreveporters were searching for a college. Atkins’ great-grandfather provided the land where Centenary now sits and worked to develop the surrounding neighborhood as a point of pride for the city. In his address, entitled “How War, Pestilence, and Plate Tectonics Brought Centenary to Shreveport,” Atkins demonstrated how a series of seemingly unconnected events – the Civil War, a boll weevil infestation, and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake - led his ancestor to make this investment, hoping both to improve the city and to solidify his business interests during an uncertain economic time.

“What this story demonstrates is that the world is a complex place, and that it is important to think critically about the big picture and be able to communicate clearly about it,” said Atkins. “This is what Centenary’s liberal arts education provides for today’s students.”

Immediately prior to the convocation, faculty and staff were recognized for sustained service to the College during the traditional Morning Call gathering in the Whited Room in Bynum Commons. 2017-2018 Student Government President Halen Sumner rang the bell to open the ceremony, and College President Dr. Christopher L. Holoman presented service pins to the following members of the Centenary community:

10 years

Ms. Pat Gallion, Administrative Assistant/MBA Program Coordinator, Frost School of Business

Ms. Sherry Heflin, Visual Identity & Publications Manager

Dr. David Hobson, Director of Choral Activities/Lecturer in Music

Mr. Michael Laffey, Lecturer in English

Mr. Fred Landry, Vice President for Development

Mrs. Saige Solomon, Director of Alumni & Family Relations

15 years

Mrs. Keeley Pratt, Financial Aid Assistant

20 years

Dr. Loren Demerath, Professor of Sociology

Mr. Scott Merritt, Director of Information Technology

Dr. Ross Smith, Associate Professor of Music

25 years

Dr. Dana Kress, Professor of French

30 years

Mr. Don Hooper, Professor of Theatre & Dance

35 Years

Ms. Nikki Holmes, Accounts Payable Specialist

Ms. Christy Wrenn, Director of Library Services


The Charlton Lyons Summer Research Award, President’s Excellence Award, and Outstanding Teacher Award were also presented during Morning Call.

The Lyons Summer Research Award was presented to Dr. Samuel Shepherd, a professor of history who will use the funds to finance a two-week research trip to the Virginia Theological Seminary in connection with a project examining the life and career of 20th century Episcopalian clergyman Walter Russell Bowie. The Lyons Summer Research Award will help Shepherd finalize the last phase of research necessary for a book-length biography of Bowie.

Lynette Viskozki, director of financial aid, received the 2018 President’s Excellence Award in recognition of her thoughtful and diligent work on behalf of Centenary students and families for more than 30 years. Centenary provost Dr. Jenifer K. Ward noted that Viskozki’s devotion to the College manifests itself not only in her work but also in her enthusiastic support for Centenary athletics and her role as a mentor to many younger staff members.

Jessica Hawkins, assistant professor of communication, was chosen from a field of 24 nominees as the 2018 Outstanding Teacher. The nominations praised Hawkins for her passion, creativity, and meticulous preparation in the classroom, qualities which contribute to an engaging and fulfilling learning experience for students. One nomination said of Hawkins, “She is an amazing professor, with an incredibly dynamic teaching style. She is obviously incredibly dedicated to and passionate about her work, and she conveys the content in a way that makes students want to pay attention and learn.”

View photos from Morning Call.

View photos from Founders' Day Convocation.

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