President’s Convocation opens Centenary College’s 199th academic year

President Christopher L. Holoman and Shanta Bates Chatman

SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary College students returned to class on Monday, August 21, including nearly 300 new students representing the Class of 2027 as well as transfer and graduate students. On Tuesday, August 22, 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 shared words of advice for the entire College community, especially for first-year students beginning their higher education journey. Using an adaptation of the prestigious “EGOT” (Emmy/Grammy/Oscar/Tony) designation, Holoman urged students, faculty, and staff to strive for and celebrate excellence, approach others with grace and openness, and face obstacles and setbacks with tenacity.

“As we begin this exciting year, I hope that remembering ‘EGOT’ will help you keep these four ideas in mind,” said Holoman. “Practice tenacity and openness, celebrate your own excellence and continue to push forward, and do so with a gracious and generous spirit.”

A photo gallery from the President’s Convocation is available at

On August 17, Holoman presided over an all-campus meeting, welcoming new employees and setting priorities for the new academic year. Holoman also presented the 2023 David Womack Leadership Award to Shanta Bates Chatman, general manager of dining services.

Chatman joined Centenary in November 2011 as a part-time unit admin/cashier for Sodexo Dining, the College’s food service provider. Her administrative talents and dedication quickly made themselves evident and she became an integral part of Centenary’s dining services, playing a crucial stabilizing role during many changes in Sodexo’s staffing and operations. In 2019, she was promoted to interim general manager and then general manager in 2020.

Under Chatman’s leadership, Centenary’s dining services team has expertly catered student recruitment and alumni events, student engagement events and themed meals in the Caf, and community events, including a memorable reception at Shreveport’s R.W. Norton Art Gallery to open the 2022 Centenary in Paris photography exhibition.

Student satisfaction scores during Chatman’s tenure have averaged 4.4 out of 5, the best among Sodexo Dining Operations in Louisiana. She has worked to respond to student needs with expanded menu offerings, including Simple Servings and cooked to order vegan meals. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Chatman and her staff kept students safe and nourished by implementing an online ordering service, collaborating with Student Development staff to deliver food to students who were quarantined, and reorganizing operations at the Caf and Randle’s, Centenary’s short-order grill, to ensure safe social distancing and provide a new to-go option.

“Shanta has been the one exceptional, consistent performer we could count on to ensure our student, staff, and faculty dining needs are addressed,” said Holoman during the presentation of the Womack Award. “Her leadership, ability to work across divisional and departmental lines, ability to build bridges, and her inclusive focus on her customers is the reason despite the rotation of four General Managers and even more Chefs, despite the catastrophe brought on by storms and viruses, our dining professionals have stood tall and answered the call at every opportunity.”

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, Eddie Walker, Connie Whittington, Mark Miller, Monica Powell, Dr. Katie Bearden, Emlyn Aubrey, Dr. Scott Chirhart, and Tina Feldt.

Notice of Nondiscriminatory Policy The institution does not discriminate in its educational and employment policies against any person on the basis of gender, race, color, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, or on any other basis proscribed by federal, state, or local law.