I'm often asked about summertime at a small, private liberal arts college like Centre: "Isn't the livin' easy?"
Truth be told, the months of June and July at Centre College are nearly as busy as those between August and May. And while the number of students and faculty is greatly reduced -- we have no regular summer classes -- tens of thousands of people are on campus for a long-standing music festival; more than another thousand visit us for camps; and hundreds more are here for various academic events, collaborative research projects and internships.
In other words, summertime at Centre is filled with learning of a different sort.
The two signature events hosted at Centre are the Great American Brass Band Festival, which just finished its 27th year, and the Kentucky Center Governor's School for the Arts, now in its third year at Centre.
We also host an Alumni College; the Centre Summer Scholars Program for rising high school juniors and seniors; the Centre Compass Initiative for incoming first-year students; a new Centre Summer Language Institute offering study of Thai, Malay and Mandarin; the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program sponsored by the National Science Foundation; and an International Conductors Festival.
I like very much that so many are able to take full advantage of Centre's excellent facilities. Sharing our beautiful campus, classrooms, residence halls and athletic facilities is positive in all ways. Not only does it provide learning experiences for our visitors, but it also helps to deepen our engagement with people from Kentucky and beyond.
The summer months are also important to those who call Centre home -- faculty, students and staff alike. Centre is a place that prizes great teaching above all else, but our faculty members are expected to be active in scholarship and research. Moreover, they are encouraged to find ways to include students in their scholarly work, and much of this occurs during the summer.
While many of our students are off-campus for summer internships (traveling to 14 states and Washington, D.C., as well as to 11 countries), others are on campus for local internships, collaborative research projects, service programs or employment.
The majority of our students doing internships abroad this summer are in Central and South America, working in Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras and Peru. Others are elsewhere across the globe, in Croatia, Ghana, India and Vietnam.
Those on campus -- more than 100 students -- are conducting internships here in Boyle County in areas such as banking and finance; medicine; law; and the arts. Others are conducting collaborative research with faculty in many different areas, including art history, behavioral neuroscience, chemistry, Chinese, economics, environmental studies, music and religion, just to name a few.
Still more are active in the Bonner Summer of Service program or gaining valuable work experience on campus, often in areas tied to their desired careers.
At the same time, summer also offers a time of renewal, providing administration and staff with crucial days and weeks to do planning and developmental work that is often passed over in the rush of the regular academic year.
Renewal occurs from the standpoint of our facilities as well, since we are forever about the process of making the campus a finer place for undergraduate education of the highest quality. In the past 10 years alone, Centre has invested more than $120 million in its physical plant, thanks to the generosity of our alumni, friends and trustees. We'll add to that list a new soccer facility being completed this summer.
Annual projects related to maintenance and upkeep, however, are too long to even list. Our able staff in facilities management, plus an array of outside contractors, work nonstop to ready our campus for the return each fall of our 1,400 students who truly appreciate what's been done for them and then show that gratitude by making full use of the College's classrooms, laboratories, practice spaces, residence halls and athletic fields.
Take all these things together, and it's fair to say that summer is focused on both the present and the future, offering exciting opportunities in the here and now while imagining and planning for a college that can still be better in all ways.