The State of the College

Mark Putnam, Central College President

Mark Putnam, Central College President

Dear Members of the Central Community,

Thank you for your ongoing support of Central College and its student-centered mission. Your collective generosity makes a difference here.

During the 2017-18 fiscal year, generous alumni and friends contributed more than $5.5 million to the college. About $3.7 million of that came from alumni. These gifts allowed us to add nearly $1 million to our endowment and helped achieve many of the initiatives we share in this report.

You also are investing in scholarships and making college more accessible to students. Because of you, every Central student in the Class of 2022 received financial aid—and that is the best gift anyone could receive.

The impact of your generosity is immense. As we look back at the past year and look forward beyond the horizon, we celebrate the remarkable efforts your philanthropy has helped power.

  • Building on existing strengths and the energy created by the Mark and Kay De Cook Endowed Chair in Character and Leadership Development, Central is focusing on an initiative to become a model for leadership and character formation. The goal is to infuse the concept of developing character and leadership skills throughout campus, including teaching, learning, residential living, serving, research, working and athletics.
  • We graduated our first students with a Bachelor of Science in engineering. The program, which partners with Vermeer Corp., Pella Corp. and Precision Pulley & Idler (PPI), won rave reviews from students and a cover story in the Des Moines Business Record. The major is meeting the needs of students as well as employers in our region.
  • We completed the $2.2 million phase one of the renovation of Douwstra Auditorium. These changes in interior design, lighting, acoustics and more have transformed Douwstra into a top-notch regional concert hall worthy of our students, faculty and visiting performing artists and lecturers.
  • We’re encouraged by your support of the Forever Dutch initiative for our athletics complex. Philanthropic partnerships continue to help us change the game and develop this facility into one that optimizes the student-athlete experience and allows us to recruit superior talent for our 19 athletics teams.
  • We are starting to plan a renovation to Peace Mall. The renovation will upgrade a space at the heart of our campus and feature a new amphitheater, an improved walkway around the chapel and a tour that will showcase moments in Central and American history.
  • We have recruited a talented first-year class. Made up from students from 14 states, it includes 28 children of alumni, 171 student-athletes and many other active and engaged students.

These accomplishments honor important legacies and point to an optimistic future for Central.

We’re held fast by the values and commitments in our mission statement. And we’re guided by our funding priorities and our history of innovation. We focus simultaneously on the long arc of time and on the needs of the present, balancing what is most important with what is most urgent.

With an eye toward the future, we look at what innovations can help us continue enhancing the student experience at Central. A new Strategic Plan for Student Success, completed this past year, lays out six strategic initiatives for the college’s future. Our focus forward is to:

  • Embody the values in Central’s Welcome Statement by creating the conditions for all students to be successful.
  • Invest in high-impact practices and associated frameworks that lead to high levels of student engagement and learning.
  • Prepare students for success after graduation and lifelong engaged citizenship.
  • Ensure a curriculum that embodies Central’s values.
  • Enhance the role of the residential learning community in fostering student success through Central’s Integrated Learning Model.
  • Communicate the value and affordability of a Central education as measured by student success.

Central’s implementation of these initiatives promises for robust fulfillment of this plan between now and 2025.

We are an institution with a 165-year legacy and an immense opportunity. Previous generations at Central navigated periods of great change and preserved the institution for us today. Our stewardship moment is here, and our inheritance is rich. Our task now is to preserve and enhance that legacy for the future. Thank you for your ongoing partnership that is certain to expand Central’s impact for the next generation.

– Mark Putnam
Central College President

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