Centenary University celebrates 150th anniversary (PHOTOS)

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (Warren County) – Centenary University is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, an incredible milestone not just for Centenary, but for the community.

The little institution built in a Hackettstown cornfield has evolved from a coed preparatory academy to an all-women’s college, and now, to a coed University recognized for its innovative academic programs.

It was on March 6, 1867, the New Jersey Legislature granted a charter to Centenary Collegiate Institute as a preparatory school for men and women. Ten prominent citizens of the town donated $10,000 and 10 acres of land to build the Institute.

The Institute incorporated a college for women in 1874, making it the first in New Jersey to award this prestigious degree to a female. Centenary, which became a women-only institution until 1989 when it transitioned to a co-educational college, was converted into a four-year institute of higher learning in 1956. In May 2016, Centenary College was awarded university status by the New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education.

The University’s main building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and on the Register of Historic Places in New Jersey.

Centenary is respected for its Environmental Science Center at the Charles O. Hayford Fish Hatchery, and it now offers a doctoral program in leadership. The University also earned a sterling reputation for its School for Professional Studies, as well as its graduate programs in education, psychology, business and counseling.

Many events have been planned throughout the year, from arts and educational performances, presentations reminiscent of their history, a 150 years of fashion show, Student Spirit Week, signature events with Athletics, SPS, AAEB and Alumni Engagement.

A “Way Back Wednesday” event has been planned for next week and that’s where Centenary faculty, staff and students will be provided with information about the cost of food items 150 years ago at the Dining Hall.  This opportunity was made possible by Chartwell’s and information will be available during lunch and dinner.

Next month, Centenary Archivist Colleen Bain will speak about the history of the Centenary University President’s House, from its construction in the Normandy Park section of Morristown in the Guilded Age to its trip via rail to Hackettstown, to its sale to Centenary at the end of World War II and its role in college life, through its demise in the fire in January 2015. Bain will also discuss the current work of rebuilding the house including architectural plans and the plans that the Centenary President and his spouse have for the future.

A complete list of events can be found on Centenary University’s website.

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By: Jay Edwards
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1867- Seeking to establish an “academic institution that shall be an honor to the church and a blessing to future generations,” Centenary Collegiate Institute (C.C.I.) is founded by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church in Hackettstown, N.J. Ten prominent citizens of the town donated $10,000 and 10 acres of land to build the Institute. (Photo Courtesy: Centenary University)







1874- Thousands attend the opening of the Institute and the official inauguration of Rev. George H. Whitney, the first president of Centenary. Another milestone is celebrated when more than 100 students are welcomed to the first academic year of classes. (Photo Courtesy: Centenary University)







1899- Fire destroys the main building of C.C.I., and amazingly, every student and faculty member escapes unharmed. Classes resume at local churches and construction of a new building begins. Centenary’s signature structure, the domed Administration Building, is dedicated in 1901. (Photo Courtesy: Centenary University)







1910- In response to increasing numbers of female applicants, C.C.I. becomes an all-girls’ preparatory school. Centenary remained a single sex institution until the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to return to coeducation in 1988. (Photo Courtesy: Centenary University)







1948- America’s post-war boom is in full swing and so is Centenary. New residence halls, Van Winkle Hall, the Taylor Memorial Library and Reeves student union building were constructed in the late-1940s and ’50s during the administration of President Edward W. Seay. (Photo Courtesy: Centenary University)







1958- The FCC grants an FM broadcasting license to Centenary that becomes WNTI, the station that gave broadcast professionals like Carol Lackland ’54 their start. WNTI, currently housed in the David and Carol Lackland Center, continues its broadcast legacy as an Internet radio station. (Photo Courtesy: Centenary University)







1973- Associate’s degree program in equine studies is introduced. It grew into a highly regarded bachelor’s degree program including equine science to prepare students for veterinary school and Centenary’s nationally ranked equestrian team. (Photo Courtesy: Centenary University)







1988- Male students return to campus, making Centenary a coeducational baccalaureate degree granting institution. (Photo Courtesy: Centenary University)







1995- First graduate program, a Master of Arts in education, is introduced. Today, Centenary has grown to offer 15 master’s degree programs. (Photo Courtesy: Centenary University)







2003- Centenary continues its transformation with the support of a historic capital campaign. The Littell Technology Center and a new residence hall are constructed. In subsequent years, Centenary will open a second student residence, Founders Hall, and renovate and expand the John M. Reeves Student Recreation Center, enhancing opportunities for Cyclone teams. (Photo Courtesy: Centenary University)







2010- The David and Carol Lackland Center, named for its lead benefactors, is dedicated. Barbara-Jayne Lewthwaite, Ed.D., Centenary’s 12th president, advanced the campaign to build the performing arts facility. Under Lewthwaite’s leadership, Centenary enhanced academic programs and created an Environmental Science Center at the Charles O. Hayford Fish Hatchery. (Photo Courtesy: Centenary University)














2015- A fire heavily damaged the President’s House. (Photo: Jay Edwards/WRNJ)






2015- Demolition begins on President’s House (Photo: Jay Edwards/WRNJ)







2016- At the 141st commencement, Lewthwaite and the Board of Trustees announce that Centenary College has been granted University status by the New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education. The elevation to a University reflects Centenary’s evolution and growth into a bachelor and graduate degree-granting institution that serves as a beacon for the northwestern region of New Jersey. (Photo Courtesy: Centenary University)







2016- Dr. David P. Haney became the 13th president of Centenary University on July 1, 2016. Dr. Haney served as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Emory & Henry College, a liberal arts college in Southwest Virginia for four years. Previously, he served for nine years at Appalachian State University where he was English Department Chair and then Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. (Photo Courtesy: Centenary University)







2017- Construction begins on the new President’s House. (Photo: Jay Edwards/WRNJ)