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Centenary College in Jackson, Louisiana, circa 1900
Centenary College of Louisiana is the oldest college in Louisiana and is the nation's oldest chartered liberal arts college west of the Mississippi River. Centenary traces its origins to two earlier institutions. In 1825, the Louisiana state legislature issued a charter for the Centenary College of Louisiana at Jackson. Its curriculum included courses in English, French, Greek, Latin, logic, rhetoric, ancient and modern history, mathematics, and natural, moral, and political philosophy. In 1839, the Mississippi Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, established Centenary College, first located in Clinton, Mississippi, then relocated to Brandon Springs. When the College of Louisiana lost the financial support from the state legislature in 1845, Centenary College purchased the facility and moved to Jackson.
Centenary College in Shreveport, circa 1915
In 1846, the college's trustees changed the institution's name to Centenary College of Louisiana and adopted the alumni of the two predecessor colleges. During the 1850s, enrollment reached 260, and the college constructed a large central building, which included classrooms, laboratories, literary society rooms, a library, a chapel, offices, and an auditorium with seating for over 2,000 people. This prosperity halted with the American Civil War. Following a meeting on October 7, 1861, the faculty minute book states, "Students have all gone to war. College suspended; and God help the right!" During the war, both Confederate and Union troops occupied the campus' buildings. Centenary reopened in the fall of 1865, though struggled financially through the remainder of the nineteenth century. In 1906, the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, accepted an offer from the Shreveport Progressive League to relocate the college. The Jackson campus now serves as the Centenary State Historic Site operated by the Louisiana Office of State Parks; it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Centenary opened in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1909. Enrollment and course offerings increased during the 1920s, and Centenary received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1925. During the 1920s and 1930s, the college's football program earned fame for defeating such teams as Baylor, LSU, Rice, SMU, and Texas A & M. The Centenary College Choir, formed in 1941, began performing throughout the region and eventually expanded to making national as well as international tours. In 1942, Centenary acquired a satellite campus, the former Dodd College, which served as a pre-flight training facility for air force cadets. Following the Second World War, the college undertook many new construction projects - dormitories, a cafeteria, a science building, a religious education center, a chapel, an expanded student center, a library, a theater, and a music building.
Centenary College's campus spans sixty-five acres and is located two miles south of downtown Shreveport. The Dr. Ed Leuck Academic Arboretum, located in the heart of campus, is home to more than 300 species of plant life.
Arboretum Bridge: The Dr. Ed Leuck Academic Arboretum, located in the heart of campus, is home to more than 300 species of plant life.
The Anderson Choral Building, named in memory of G. M. "Jake" and Dr. Gertie Anderson, longtime trustees and benefactors of the College, the building houses the Nancy Mikell Carruth Choir Room, the Dr. Alberta E. Broyles Choral Room, and the Harvey and Alberta Broyles Choral Lounge. The Anderson building also contains a soundproof practice room and atrium.
The Brown Memorial Chapel was erected in 1955, after a gift was made by the late Paul M. Brown, Jr., Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees, and his brother, Colonel S. Perry Brown, a life member of the Board, in honor of their parents. The Chapel was renovated and rededicated in January 2003 and hosts religious services and special events.
Brown Memorial Chapel
Bynum Memorial Commons, the cafeteria, built in 1956, was named in 1974 to honor Robert Jesse Bynum, New Orleans businessman and benefactor of the College. A generous grant from the Frost Foundation funded a 2006 renovation of the entire building, including the Edwin Frost Whited Room and the Centenary Alumni Hall of Fame.
The Centenary Fitness Center provides exercise equipment, two racquetball courts, an aerobics room, a dance studio, an indoor running track, free-weights area, and a 25-yard, six-lane pool.
Mickle Hall: Home of natural and physical science.
The Gold Dome, completed in 1971, is a physical education facility. The geodesic dome has a capacity of 3,000 and serves as the home basketball and volleyball court and gymnastics arena. After a recent renovation in 2011, the Gold Dome features a new hardwood painted floor, updated sub-floor electronics, premium seating, and a new Hi-Fi public address system.
Hamilton Hall, the administration building completed in 1971, was largely the result of gifts by the late Mr. and Mrs. David Philip Hamilton. Mrs. Hamilton was a trustee of the College and a member of the first Centenary class to graduate in Shreveport.
The Hargrove Memorial Amphitheatre was a gift of Mrs. R. H. Hargrove and her children and was built in memory of her husband, Mr. Reginald H. Hargrove. It is used for convocations, plays, and concerts.
The Meadows Museum of Art, established in 1975, was created from the gift of Centenary alumnus Algur H. Meadows. After donating 360 works by the French artist Jean Despujols, Meadows also provided funding to renovate the former administrative building into a museum. The museum's permanent collection now includes around 1500 works by various artists and regularly hosts exhibits that aim to educate students and the public on the importance of art.
Centenary is a selective liberal arts college with 22 majors in the arts and sciences, numerous academic concentrations, a variety of pre-professional programs, and two graduate programs.
In 2013 Princeton Review named Centenary one of the "Best 376 Colleges" and "Best Southeastern Colleges," putting the College in the top 15% of all four-year colleges in the country. Forbes.com recognized Centenary as one of "America's Best Colleges" overall, "Best Private Colleges," and "Best Colleges in the South," and awarded an "A" grade for financial fitness. U.S. News & World Report placed the College in Tier One of its annual National Liberal Arts Colleges rankings. Other accolades include recognition for community service.
Centenary puts emphasis on co-curricular activities and gives its students an unlimited number of opportunities on and off campus from Greek life to student media, and service to politics.
The Centenary Fitness Center contains a basketball/volleyball court, a 6 lane 25 yard swimming pool, an indoor track, an exercise area with weight machines and cardiovascular equipment, an aerobic room, a dance studio, and two racquetball courts. The center offers exercise classes, such as spinning, abs, yoga, and Pilates. There is also a 52' climbing tower outside the fitness center.
Intramural activities are offered through the fitness center. Some of the sports the students participate in are flag football, bowling, outdoor soccer, volleyball, basketball, softball, racquetball, and swimming.
The geodesic Gold Dome houses Centenary basketball, volleyball and gymnastics.
The first official records of athletic teams at Centenary College are to be found in the 1908-1909 college catalog and
the November 1909 issue of the Maroon and White, a monthly publication edited by the students.
Centenary fields 17 intercollegiate athletic teams including baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, and tennis for men; and basketball, cross country, golf, gymnastics, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, and volleyball for women.
U.S. Olympics Women's Gymnastics Coach (Tokyo, 1964) Vannie Edwards coached the Centenary women's gymnastics team from 1964 to 1968 and again from 1977 to 1985. Coach Edwards was also the team manager for the U.S. Olympics Women's Gymnastics teams in 1968 (Mexico City) and 1972 (Munich). He was inducted into the U.S. Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1986.
Centenary previously fielded a college football team. From 1927 thru 1936, the team compiled a record of 73-22-11, including two undefeated seasons (1927 & 1932). The 1927 team featured wins over four powers in the Southwest Conference: Southern Methodist, Baylor, Rice, and Texas Christian. The 1932 team featured wins over Louisiana State, Texas, Texas A&M, and Mississippi. Head Coach Homer Norton left Centenary after the 1933 season, and success and fan interest dwindled. After an 0-8-2 season in 1941, the team was discontinued for the duration of World War II due to budget deficits. Football resumed in 1947, but after winning only one game during the season, the football program was halted for good in December 1947.
The school sport's nickname is the Gents; the women's sports' nickname is the Ladies. Prior to adopting the Gents nickname, Centenary's football team was known as the Old Ironsides and had a reputation as a fearsome and powerful team with a penchant for playing rough. To clean up their image, they selected the Gents nickname.
In 2013, the Centenary Gents baseball team won the SCAC regular season. It was the school's first regular season championship in any sport since 1991. The Gents baseball team also won the SCAC regular season in 2015. Also, former Centenary Pitcher, Seth Lugo made his MLB debut for the New York Mets on July 1, 2016. Former Centenary Gents pitcher James Hoyt (baseball) was called up by the Houston Astros on August 2, 2016. This marked the first time that two Centenary alumni had played in Major League Baseball at the same time. Hoyt and Lugo were teammates on the 2009 and 2010 Centenary Gents teams.