Centre College Class of 2024 honored at 201st commencement ceremony

Published 11:00 am Saturday, May 25, 2024

Centre College celebrated 305 new graduates in the class of 2024 on Sunday, May 19.

Students who entered college amid a global pandemic persevered to walk across the Norton Center for the Arts’ stage, degrees in hand. More than one in five students in the class were the first in their family to graduate from college.

The Honorable Matthew Barzun delivered the commencement address, celebrating the bonds forged by the 2024 graduates. Barzun, a business leader and former U.S. ambassador, wove a message around a historic phrase in Centre’s history: C6-H0.

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Barzun reimagined the famous inscription, which represents the final score of the history-making 1921 football upset when Centre toppled mighty Harvard.

“C6-H0: The secret formula of organic chemistry between people,” Barzun said. “The letter C: Continuing to deal constructively with difference. Six. H: having it all figured out by yourself. Zero. Or simpler still: Coherence 6, Hubris 0.”

Roma Desai, Riley Fowler and Jeff Foster were awarded the Valedictorian prizes, named for Gavin Easton Wiseman and George Winston Welsh.

Of the 305 graduates, 123 students graduated with honors: 26 graduated Summa Cum Laude, 49 Magna Cum Laude and 47 Cum Laude. Among the class, 30 were inducted into Centre’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest honor society for the liberal arts and sciences.

So, what’s next for the class of 2024? Graduates are ready as soon as they cross the stage, with 98 percent of Centre alumni employed or in postgraduate education within one year.

Centre will send its newest alumni across the globe, from Fulbright English Teaching Assistants to prestigious fellowships in Germany. Class of 2024 members will attend prestigious medical and law schools, from Yale University Nursing to the University of Chicago Law school. Young artists will enter the workforce as graphic designers and musicians. And, as Barzun said — the class is one that made its impact together.

“You took risks. You asked for help. You made sacrifices. And bonds were formed, many that will last a lifetime,” Barzun said. “We often make the mistake of thinking that we do hard things together, because we’re friends. And there’s some truth to that. But the real secret is that we are friends, because we have done hard things together.”

Student Government Association President Hailey Finch delivered the senior response in the Commencement ceremony and recognized her class and its dedication.

“This idea of resurrection seemed embodied by our class. It has been our duty,” Finch said. “Did we not enter college at a time when the grief in the world seemed larger than life, when life as we knew it had come to an end and our energy was spent mourning the first year experience we wish we had? … But through grit, perseverance and tenacity, we were resurrected. We resurrected ourselves because we had to, and in many ways became the class that got to reinvent Centre.”

Rev. Kerry Rhoads Mansir ’99 echoed the strength of the connections forged at Centre as she delivered the Baccalaureate service address. View her full Baccalaureate address here.

“For most of us, over the course of our lifetimes, what will be our foundation — the thing that keeps us centered — will be our connection with others,” she said.

Centre President Milton C. Moreland congratulated the class of 2024, noting how they now have made their mark on the College’s rich tradition.

“While we have grown far beyond the budding institution founded over 200 years ago here in Danville, Kentucky, we have never grown beyond an intensely personal teaching and learning that encourages students to succeed at extraordinary levels and lead purposeful lives of continual curiosity and discovery,” Moreland said. “As we celebrate this commencement today with you, we take pride in your many accomplishments, class of 2024. You are now part of Centre’s ongoing story, a continuous 205 years of producing leaders and change agents for our world. You have now the toolkit to make a difference for good. And we look forward to watching you in all of your future endeavors.”