Centenary College opens new academic year with President’s Convocation
SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary College students returned to class on Monday, August 22. On Tuesday, August 23, Centenary president Dr. Christopher L. Holoman welcomed faculty, staff, and students to the annual President’s Convocation in Brown Chapel, the traditional opening of the College’s academic year.
During his convocation address, Holoman spoke on the concept of empathy and the crucial role that it can play in helping communities address and move past division and conflict. Linking empathy to what Abraham Lincoln famously described as, “the better angels of our nature,” Holoman stressed that the important work that should happen on a college campus cannot proceed without a renewed commitment to true dialogue rooted in empathy.
“College has always been recognized as a time when students are in a special place between childhood and the full weight of ‘adulting,’ as we say now,” said Holoman. “Colleges have always served that role and we have an ideal of spirited debate and the exchange of ideas. But that wonderful kind of debate isn’t possible without stopping to hear the other. If, instead of listening, you are preparing your next zinger, that’s not going to be productive. Yelling at one another is not an exchange. We need to go back one step. We need to work on our empathy.”
A photo gallery from the President’s Convocation is available at centenary.edu/photos.
On August 18, Holoman presided over an all-campus meeting, welcoming new employees and setting priorities for the new academic year. Holoman also presented the 2022 David Womack Leadership Award to Tina Feldt, director of counseling and disability services.
Feldt has been at Centenary since 2001 and has created a strong and effective counseling, health, and disability services program at the College. In each of the past five years, between 97% and 100% of students attending health and wellness programming sponsored by Feldt’s office have said that they found the programming to be “beneficial and useful,” and over 100 students who have used counseling services reported, on an anonymous survey, that their experience at the counseling center positively affected their decision to stay in college.
In his remarks before presenting the 2022 Womack Award, Holoman praised Feldt’s inclusivity and accessibility, qualities which have endeared her to students and faculty alike and allowed her to successfully and compassionately serve generations of students.
“Phrases like ‘Tina Time’ and ‘go see Tina’ have entered the vernacular of the College,” said Holoman. “Tina has worked tirelessly to be inclusive of all members of our campus community. We know that nationally members of historically marginalized groups are less likely to seek counseling assistance, despite often facing additional societal challenges and stressors. At Centenary, minority racial and ethnic groups utilize counseling services at rates that equal or exceed majority students, and students who identify as GLBTQ+ are significantly more likely to utilize counseling services than other students. This is not an accident. Tina intentionally reaches out to diverse students and student groups.”
The David Womack Leadership Award was established in memory of David Womack, who suddenly died while serving Centenary College as the Dean of Students in the 2008-2009 academic year. A dynamic leader and catalyst for change, Womack made a great impact on the Centenary community in a short period of time.
Past recipients of the Womack Award include Dr. David Hoaas, Dr. Chris Lavan, Eddie Walker, Connie Whittington, Mark Miller, Monica Powell, Janet Ingram, Saige Solomon, Dr. Katie Bearden, Al Bush, Emlyn Aubrey, Marcus Manning, and Dr. Scott Chirhart.