Important Citizens among First Centre Trustees

The legislature placed some of Kentucky's most important citizens in charge of Centre as its first board of trustees. Isaac Shelby, the state's first governor, was chair of Centre's board. Dr. Ephraim McDowell, a Danville resident who 10 years earlier had made medical history by performing the first successful abdominal operation, was also on the board. (These two leaders shared family connections in addition to civic responsibilities, as Dr. McDowell was married to Governor Shelby's oldest daughter, Sarah.) The struggle between the Presbyterians and others who were eager for a more public institution of higher education continued beyond Centre's opening one year later. While the Kentucky Legislature gave complete control of the College's board to the Presbyterians in 1824, it added an amendment stating that "the College shall at all times be conducted on liberal, free, and enlightened principles, and no student shall be excluded in consequence of his religious opinions, or those of his parents, guardians, or relatives." The Presbyterian Church today acknowledges its historic affiliation with the College. Centre welcomes students, faculty, and staff of all faiths.