Centre News

Getting to know…the alumni office’s James Barnard


January 13, 2011
James Barnard Assistant director of annual giving James Barnard with his two
favorite pieces of art
1. Position at Centre?
Assistant director of annual giving. I’m—in part—responsible for those awesome phone calls that alumni get asking for gifts to Centre!

2. Where did you grow up (and describe the place in one phrase or sentence)?
Hayfield, in the High Peak, near Manchester, in England. It’s a picturesque village of about 2,000 with six pubs and a cricket pitch.

3. What are your hobbies?
My main hobby right now is playing Beatles Rock Band with my wife, Allison, and our dog, Griffyn. Our band is called Beatless.

4. What is your dream vacation?
I’d fly around the world for two years in a fairly large hot balloon with my family, stopping at every single country. Failing that, I’d like to sail down the Panama Canal in a yacht.

5. Favorite artist and/or work of art?
Ronnie Phillips, a current senior at Centre. He made this red and white blown glass ‘bean’ that I keep in my office. One of my best friends back in England is called Bean, so it serves as a useful reminder. The two do not look alike, however. I also have this massive photograph above my desk of Mary Ashby Cheek ’09 (that’s 1909). I like it because she has a surprising resemblance to The Queen, and people often think that I’m so loyal to the motherland that I brought a portrait with me. This is ridiculous—it would never have fit in my suitcase.

6. Favorite novel or poem?
“Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann. I truly believe the world would be a better place if everyone read this poem every morning.

7. Favorite sport (to watch or play)?
Football—and of course by football I mean soccer. I still consider myself a Manchester City fan, even though it’s harder to keep up with these days.

8. Favorite TV show?
The Office. I’ll be happy to debate the with you which is better between the British and American versions, and I’m confident that I can convince you that both are fantastic for totally different reasons and cannot be compared to each other.

9. Favorite album?
What’s the Story (Morning Glory) by Oasis. First album I ever owned.

10. Favorite holiday?
August Bank Holiday, when my Primary School used to hold its annual car boot sale. Google it. I have many fond memories of directing traffic with my dad who was on the PTA and organized the event.

11. Favorite food?
Pasta. It doesn’t matter what you do with it, it’ll always be great. When I consider that I spend a lot time thinking about what and/or where I’m going to eat next, it makes me realize that pasta has influenced more of my life decisions than anything else.

12. Most prized possession?
Probably a cigarette case given to my great-grandfather, George, by a former Archbishop of Philadelphia when he became a Cardinal in Rome in 1921 (the Archbishop became a Cardinal, not my great-grandfather).

13. Three people, living or deceased, who you’d invite to the same dinner party?
1. Ellen DeGeneres, because she would put everyone at ease and make us laugh.
2. My mother, because she would plan some excellent party games.
3. HRH Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, because he has unmatched style and would have a pretty cool plus-one.

14. Favorite aspect of your job?
Phonathon season. It’s only a few months of the year but I have a great team of student callers who are fun to work with. It’s also great because we see instant results to our hard work and sleep at night with the knowledge that we’re making a tangible difference to the lives of Centre students.

15. Most memorable experience of your youth?
Anything that involved a fire. I remember a bad car wreck near my house (with flames; I was not involved), an old mill burning down and watching a TV show about house fires. Also Hayfield Sheepdog Trials from any given year—again, Google it.

16. What would you be doing if you weren't working at Centre?
I’d like to run a theater, I think. At some point in time I gave up on this ambition, but every time I see a live performance I wish I could go backstage and do theatrical things. There’s something undeniable exciting about being inside a theater.

17. Educational experience that's been most helpful to you?
My B.A. in Theatre Studies from Lancaster University, which had a focus in the study of contemporary experimental performance. In between studying such philosophical topics as the performance of gender, I also met my wife, was Student Government President and got my first taste of higher education development. It was the latter three of these things that shaped my life goals and led me purposefully to where I am now.

18. Fictional character in whose shoes you’d love to spend a day?
I’d be Marcel the Shell with Shoes on, but as long as it really was only for one day. Any more than that and I think being partly a shell would get dull, with shoes on or not.

19. Favorite place on campus (and why)?
Anywhere that says ‘CENTRE’ in big letters. Reminds me that the sun never sets on the British Empire…

20. Advice you'd give to a first-year college student to make success more likely?
Think, but don’t make thoughts your aim. Also, I’d quote Derek Bok, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

Have comments, suggestions, or story ideas? E-mail Leigh Cocanougher with your feedback.



Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Forbes magazine ranks Centre 24th among all the nation's colleges and universities and has named Centre No. 1 among all institutions of higher education in the South for two years in a row. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices.
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