Review of “Centre College: Scholars, Gentlemen, and Christians”

Last night I finished reading Centre College: Scholars, Gentlemen, and Christians by sociology professor Beau Weston. For a first year Centre professor like myself, this was an excellent introduction to the history and traditions of my employing institution.

Professor Weston explains “how a college made for scholars, gentlemen, and Christians developed into a college for learning, leadership, and service.” This book traces how each of these three core missions of training: scholars/learning, gentlemen/leadership, and Christians/service has developed, changed, and competed for dominance over the nearly 200-year history of this small liberal arts college.

I especially liked learning more about several of Centre’s famous alumni:

  • John C. Breckinridge – Vice President of the United States under James Buchanan who ran for president against Abraham Lincoln in the election of 1860.
  • Adlai E. Stevenson – Vice President of the United States under Grover Cleveland and great-grandfather of the Adlai Stevenson who was governor of Illinois and who ran against Eisenhower in the elections of 1952 and 1956. (I actually persuaded my wife to make a short side-trip on a 2007 drive through Illinois to go visit the cemetery where they’re both buried in Bloomington.)
  • John Marshall Harlan – served on the Supreme Court and cast the only dissenting vote on 1896 Plessy vs. Ferguson (he argued against racial segregation).
  • Fred Vinson – served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1946-1953)

In addition, Centre has also produced 13 U.S. senators, 43 congressmen, 11 governors, and countless other individuals who have made a positive impact on the world in one form or another.

The book is available for $15 from the Centre Bookstore in Danville, Kentucky. I can recommend it for Centre faculty, students, and anyone with a connection to the College or Danville.

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