This year marks the 150th anniversary of the charter of Centenary University! To celebrate, the blog will be highlighting past posts about Centenary’s history.

Academics are an incredibly important aspect of a college education (hopefully the most important!), but many students found that their most memorable moments were spent outside the classroom.

150.08 The RecreationAside from classes and educational pursuits, students spent their free time enjoying outdoor activities. In Centenary’s early years, students went hiking, skiing, horseback riding, etc. Horseback riding was very popular, and there was a Riding Club for students taking riding classes, and an Outing Club that regularly scheduled excursions to local stables for all students. Swimming was also a popular pastime. In the 1930s, Centenary started hosting a yearly interclass swim meet. Each class competed in events including the egg and spoon race and ‘swimming with arms alone’. The 1940s marked the beginning of the Aquatic Club, which promoted interest in swimming, life-saving, and water fun.

One of the earliest and most accessible sources of extracurricular entertainment for students was academic. Students joined societies to strengthen their elocution, performed music or sang in recitals, and joined clubs that furthered their educational interests. The music department was the institute’s largest in its earlier years, and there were many musical clubs for students – The Mandolin and Banjo Club, The String Glee Club, the C.C.I. Concert Band, and the C.C.I. Orchestra, which thrived for many years. Students in Chorus gave town concerts and even produced records. Many students enjoyed activities that would help develop professional skills: Students in the school’s radio program spent their time planning radio shows. The radio station was directed by a member of the faculty and staffed by students in radio and television programs.

Let’s not forget social activities! Students had many yearly events for students as a chance to get to know each other better and to unwind. The school held several dances a year, each hosted by a different class. They also created the Winter Carnival with a winter themed dance, skiing, snow sculpture making, sleigh rides, and concerts. The Ice Breaker at the start of the school year welcomed new students to Centenary, and the Songs on the Steps at the end of the school year bid farewell to graduating Seniors. Students found many activities to entertain themselves while they were at Centenary.





            a year of song

Small hints of the influence of music at Centenary College are still visible around campus – the organ in the Whitney Chapel and pianos in the Ferry Building and the Seay Building are two reminders of the importance of music at Centenary. The College has a rich musical history that helps outline the value of tradition in togetherness and school spirit. In Ms. Leila Roberta Custard’s Through Golden Years it is written:

            “Spontaneous and exuberant as was this student life, there was still a noticeably conscious effort to achieve better school spirit…Periodically the editorials contained pleas that the better students exert continuous influence to keep the tone of the school high” (Custard, 120).

            Music played a leading role in how school spirit was expressed, and school-wide events were full of cheers, yells, and songs.


Students and faculty alike expressed their pride for their school by writing songs for different occasions, and in 1910 these songs were collected for a music book called A Year of Song. Published by Carl F. Price, a graduate of Centenary Collegiate Institute, class of 1898, and a writer of songs and hymns, it articulated the experiences of decades of Centenary College alumni.


The songs were arranged to correspond with the school year, starting in September with a song the school still uses today – the “Alma Mater”, written by Harry Runyon in 1903. This song has stood the test of time, and proves that it is still as significant now in 2016 as it was over one hundred years ago. We hope students will continue to sing it for one hundred years more.