In 1855, the Rev. John G. Fee started a one-room school that eventually would become Berea College. Fee, a native of Bracken County, KY, parted with the church in which he had been ordained because it was not sufficiently against slavery and eventually was disowned and disinherited by his slaveholding father. He was a scholar of strong moral character, dedication, determination, and great faith. He believed in a school that would be an advocate of equality and excellence in education for men and women of all races.
Fee's uncompromising faith and courage in preaching against slavery attracted the attention of Cassius M. Clay, a well-to-do Kentucky landowner and prominent leader in the movement for gradual emancipation. Clay felt he had found in Fee an individual who would take a strong stand on slavery.
In 1853, Clay offered Fee the 10-acre Madison County homestead on the edge of the mountains if Fee would take up permanent residence there. Fee accepted and established an anti-slavery church with 13 members on a ridge above an area known simply as "The Glade." They named it "Berea" after the biblical town whose populace was open-minded and receptive to the gospel (Acts 17:10).
In 1854, Fee built his home upon the ridge. The following year, a one-room school, which also served as a church on Sundays, was built on a lot contributed by a neighbor. Berea's first teachers were recruited from Oberlin College, an anti-slavery institution of higher learning in Ohio. Fee saw his humble church-school as the beginning of a sister institution "which would be to Kentucky what Oberlin is to Ohio"
Fee and his colleagues believed that "God made of one blood all peoples of the earth," which would become the school's motto. The second bylaw established another characteristic of Berea by asserting, "This college shall be under an influence strictly Christian." In the 2005 Berea College: An Illustrated History, College Historian Shannon Wilson wrote, "The term 'Christian' was not specifically defined in terms of baptism or other 'theological tenets on which Christians differ'; but it was assumed that Christians would be marked by 'a righteous practice and Christian experience.' For Fee and his abolitionist supporters, slavery, sectarianism, and exclusion on the basis of social and economic differences were examples of 'wrong' institutions and practices that promoted schism and disobedience to God. These sins, left unamended, would prevent Berea from being a place of acceptance, welcome, and love." Therefore, character became the chief qualification for admission, placing education within reach of all who desired its benefits.
Fee worked with other community leaders to develop a constitution for the new school, which he and Principal J.A.R. Rogers insisted should ensure its interracial character. They also agreed that the school would furnish work for as many students as possible, in order to help them pay their expenses and to dignify labor at a time when manual labor and slavery tended to be synonymous in the South.
The first articles of incorporation for Berea College were adopted in 1859. But that also was the year Fee and the Berea teachers were driven from Madison County by Southern pro-slavery sympathizers. Fee spent the Civil War years raising funds for the school; in 1865, he and his followers returned. A year later, the articles of incorporation were recorded at the county seat in Richmond, and in 1869 the College Department became a reality.
The first Catalog, issued for 1866-67, used the corporate name "Berea College," but the title "Berea Literary Institute" was printed on the cover because it was thought to convey better "the present character of the school." Enrollment that academic year totaled 187—96 black students and 91 whites. For several decades following the Civil War, Berea's student body continued to be divided equally between white and black students, many of whom went on to teach in schools established solely for African-Americans.
In 1886-87, the school had three divisions: Primary, Intermediate, and Academic. Students could pursue a college preparatory course, a shorter course, or a teachers' course. In 1869-70, five freshmen were admitted to the College Department, and in 1873 the first bachelor's degrees were granted.
Berea's commitment to interracial education was overturned in 1904 by the Kentucky Legislature's passage of the Day Law, which prohibited education of black and white students together. When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Day Law, Berea set aside funds to assist in the establishment of the Lincoln Institute in Simpsonville, near Louisville, for the education of black students through the high-school level. The College also provided financial aid to send black students to colleges such as Knoxville College, Hampton Institute, Tuskegee, and Wilberforce. When the Day Law was amended in 1950 to allow voluntary integration above the high school level, Berea was the first college in Kentucky to reopen its doors to black students.
In the aftermath of the Day Law, by 1911, the number of students seeking admission to Berea was so great that the trustees amended the College's constitution to specify the southern mountain region as Berea's special field of service. The commitment to Appalachia, however, began as early as 1858 when Rogers, after a trip through the mountains, identified the region as a "neglected part of the country" for which Berea was founded to serve.
Curricular offerings have varied at Berea to meet changing needs. In the early 1920s, in addition to its College Department, Berea had a high school that included ungraded classes for students who had not had educational opportunities, an elementary school, and a vocational school, as well as a Normal School for teacher training. Although the general mission of serving students with financial need continued, units and divisions were reorganized through the years. In 1968, Berea discontinued its elementary and secondary departments and now focuses entirely on undergraduate college education.
Since its founding in 1855, the pillars of Berea’s educational mission have been learning, service to others, and labor. At the outset, Berea’s instructors truly were educators of “the head, heart, and hand,” to borrow a phrase from the art historian and social critic John Ruskin. Faculty not only taught in the classroom, but also supervised student work and encouraged students in acts of service to others. This holistic approach to education promoted in each student the self-sufficiency derived from manual labor and the strong sense that any vocation should serve others. Over time, learning, work, and service gradually evolved into more complex and independent facets of the institution, yet they always have remained the pillars of Berea’s distinctive educational endeavor.
At the turn of the 20th century, Berea’s academic, labor, and service programs became recognizable as separate entities within the larger institution, and the Labor Program began to attract national attention. Many new apprenticeships developed, including those in Appalachian craft traditions. In 1906, every student was required to perform some type of meaningful work. Gradually, labor mentors articulated learning goals for each job, and, in doing so, they provided a crucial and lasting link between learning (the head) and labor (the hand). Generations of Berea students have gained special insight into the dignity and value of all work and have seen how their labor helped to sustain the daily operations of the College community.
In 1969, President Willis Weatherford formally published Dean Louis Smith’s list of Berea College’s goals—including the fostering of learning, labor, and service—as the seven “Great Commitments.” President Weatherford encouraged the Faculty to affirm the Great Commitments as the guiding sentiment of the College. The Commitments had been used elsewhere before, but he framed them as the central statement of the College's mission. In 1993, Berea’s Faculty and Trustees revised the Weatherford-Smith text so as to include eight Great Commitments and a new preface. These eight Great Commitments serve to define Berea’s special mission. They set forth the ideals toward which the College and its people constantly strive. The Great Commitments are rooted in principles and purposes that have guided Berea since its founding.
Fee was the first president of Berea's Board of Trustees, serving from 1858-92, and Rogers was the first principal, 1858-69. The first Berea College president was appointed in 1869. Since then, there have been nine presidents:
- Edward Henry Fairchild, 1869-89
- William B. Stewart, 1890-92
- William Goodell Frost, 1892-1920
- William J. Hutchins, 1920-39
- Francis S. Hutchins, 1939-67
- Willis D. Weatherford, 1967-84
- John B. Stephenson, 1984-94
- Larry D. Shinn, 1994-2012
- Lyle D. Roelofs 2012 to the present
Today, visitors, students, staff, and faculty on the Berea College campus can learn more about Fee's visionary ideas by reading his quotes placed along the walking paths of the John G. Fee Glade Park in the center of campus.
“God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth.”
Common Learning Goals
Bereans continue to strive to fulfill the Great Commitments in ways that are both responsible to history and tradition and yet responsive to the needs of students in the 21st century. In 1996, after numerous “Town Meeting” discussions open to all students, faculty, staff, and trustees, a strategic plan entitled Being and Becoming: Berea College in the 21st Century was adopted by vote of the College Faculty, General Faculty, and the Board of Trustees. Being and Becoming articulates four pairs of learning goals that apply to Berea students, faculty, and staff members alike, and that are to be fostered not only in classrooms, but in all of the other places where Bereans interact, from offices to residence halls to athletic fields. These goals are to:
- develop the critical intellectual ability to address complex problems from multiple perspectives and nurture moral growth with a commitment to service;
- understand the relationship between humans and the natural world and consider both the benefits and limitations of science and technology;
- explore our individual roots and our shared American culture and know and respect cultures from around the world; and
- educate students, faculty, and staff to be creative, independent thinkers and encourage collaboration and teamwork in learning and working.
These learning goals are ideals toward which all Bereans are encouraged to strive. They are intended to guide members of the College community in preparing graduates who will serve and lead their communities and be agents of positive change. The development of these learning goals is but one example of how the Berea College community is, through thoughtful and continuous planning, extending its tradition of educational innovation.
Campus Buildings and Spaces
Situated where the Bluegrass meets the Cumberland Mountains on the “Berea ridge” in south-central Kentucky, Berea’s 140-acre campus is far more than a collection of beautiful and historic buildings. It is the home of a unique and vital community shaped by the people who live here and the ideals to which they subscribe.
Berea’s campus is student-centered. Student activity spaces, classrooms, laboratories, and the library all are within walking distance of the College’s residence halls. Labor Program job sites typically are within easy walking distance. Outstanding facilities, from a campus-wide computer network to an athletic and wellness center, offer access to the latest in technology and equipment.
Most of the buildings on campus reflect the character, history, and grandeur of the College, while also demonstrating the power of state-of-the-art technologies to enhance teaching and learning. Berea’s traditional and modern architecture blends well. The sidewalks that crisscross the campus quadrangles offer intersections where Bereans meet, chat, and come to know and learn from one another.
The Crossroads Complex is designed as a central location for student services, recreation, and educational support programs. Fairchild Hall, the oldest building on campus, was the first brick building erected in the region. Today it serves as a residence hall as well as home to several administrative services. In the Alumni Memorial Building, the College’s social center, are multipurpose recreation rooms, attractive student/faculty dining facilities, student-organization offices, the Black Cultural Center, lounges and meeting spaces, and a prayer room. The hub of the Crossroads Complex, Woods-Penniman Hall, houses the Francis and Louise Hutchins Center for International Education, the College Post Office, Student Government, The Café (with indoor and outdoor dining), The Commons, and the Student Life Office. Facilities are open around the clock for individual and group study.
The three-story Hutchins Library serves as Berea’s center of research, study, and educational technology. The building features research assistance areas, classrooms, educational technology labs, group study spaces, individual carrels, and seating areas to accommodate group projects, study groups, consultations with librarians and teaching assistants, and individual studying. Hutchins Library houses over 345,000 books, CDs, DVDs, and videos to support student and faculty research. An extensive collection of electronic resources (reference materials, books, journals, and streaming media) is available 24/7. Sources of historic information specific to the Appalachian region are housed on the lower level. Among its treasures are many rare manuscripts, photographs, sound recordings, and books; the College’s archives; the Weatherford-Hammond Appalachian Collection of publications; the Sound Archives of regional music and field recordings; and the Shedd Memorial Collection of Abraham Lincoln materials.
The administration building, Lincoln Hall, built in the 1880s as a classroom and library facility, is included in the National Register of Historic Places. On the first floor are Student Accounts, Academic Services, Registrar's Office, and Student Financial Aid Services. Lincoln Hall also accommodates the President’s Office, the Provost's Office, the Dean of Faculty's Office, and other administrative offices.
At the hub of Berea’s academic life are Draper, Frost, and other academic buildings such as the new Margaret A. Cargill Natural Sciences and Health Building. Draper houses classrooms and faculty offices for six academic departments as well as the Campus Christian Center. Originally built in 1937, the renovated Draper includes the use of materials, design principles, and monitoring equipment that make it a model of sustainable and environmentally sound renovation while retaining the original character of the building. Frost houses four departments in the humanities and social sciences. The new Cargill building, opened in the Fall of 2018, houses biology, chemistry, mathematics, nursing and physics, as well as accompanying laboratories, a planetarium, the Yahng Discovery Center, and also the Nobel Prize for Chemistry awarded to Berea College alumnus John Fenn in 2002. Similarly, the Goldthwait Agricultural Building provides animal and plant laboratories essential to the study of agriculture and natural resources. Berea’s center for theatre is the Ross Jelkyl Drama Center, containing the McGaw and Musser theatres and the Theatre Laboratory studios. The Danforth Industrial Arts Building is the home of Berea’s Technology and Applied Design and Computer Science Departments. Presser Hall houses the campus concert hall (Gray Auditorium) and the offices and rehearsal facilities of the Music Department. The Rogers Memorial Art Building, connected to the Dimitrie Berea Gallery (2003), and the Traylor Building (1977) all provide art galleries that display visiting exhibits and the College’s own fine arts collection, as well as classrooms, faculty offices, and studios. The Education Studies Department is housed in the recently renovated Knapp Hall. The Child and Family Studies Department resides in the Emery Building, which dates back to 1924 and reopened in the Fall of 2009 after a year of extensive renovations, including newly designed classroom and laboratory facilities. The Harrison-McLain Home Management House serves as a laboratory facility for family resource management. Most College-wide events take place in Phelps Stokes Chapel, built by students between 1904 and 1906.
Berea’s Health and Human Performance Department, its 16 varsity athletic teams, and an array of recreational and intramural sports programs call the Seabury Center home. This regionally recognized facility offers gymnasia, an indoor pool, racquetball courts, indoor track, weight room, wellness center, state-of-the-art classrooms, and multipurpose spaces. Its main arena seats 2,000 for basketball games and 2,800 for stage events, and hosts the annual Spring commencement ceremony. Just outside are athletic fields, an all-weather track, and 11 tennis courts, five of which are lighted.
Significant learning takes place in the College’s residence halls. As students build and sustain relationships with roommates, hallmates, and classmates, they hone interpersonal skills. Life-long friendships flourish in a variety of residential environments available at Berea. Students who are married and/or have dependent children may be offered family housing in the College’s Ecological Village.
Farm and Forest Land
On the outskirts of campus lies additional acreage owned by the College. Farm land, including an experimental farm, covers 1,400 acres, and the 9,000-acre Berea College Forest serves as a watershed for the College and the town of Berea.
Berea continues to build upon a distinctive history of more than 150 years of learning, labor, and service, and to find new ways to apply its mission (the Great Commitments) to contemporary times by promoting kinship among all people, serving communities in Appalachia and beyond, and living sustainably to conserve limited natural resources.
Berea is a residential college community of approximately 1600 students. Living in residence halls and participating in extracurricular life are meaningful aspects of the Berea experience where students build friendships, expand their social horizons, and increase their understanding of themselves and others. In this overview, learn more about the Berea community, including some of the features that make the campus distinctive.
International Education Here and There
The world has become a highly complex and interdependent global village. In response, Berea College prepares students to take an active role in global society by undertaking a variety of initiatives to help its students—tomorrow’s leaders—strengthen their international awareness. College resources support the Francis and Louise Hutchins Center for International Education (CIE), the campus focal point for international education. The CIE fosters understanding of, and respect for, all peoples of the earth. Many of the eight Great Commitments of Berea College are achieved through international education—an integral part of a strong liberal-arts curriculum.
Devoted to steadily increasing international-education opportunities, the College provides a variety of international perspectives, both on campus and abroad, by encouraging international perspectives in course work and curriculum across the disciplines; hosting students, faculty, and guest lecturers from around the world; organizing a variety of programs that bring artists, musicians, and speakers from other countries to campus; and encouraging all students to participate in academically rigorous, cross-cultural, education-abroad programs. This panorama of international-education opportunities brings to life the College’s scriptural foundation, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth.”
International Student and Scholar Services
Students from over 70 other nations add a vital multi-cultural dimension to the campus. The International Student and Scholar Advisor provides comprehensive support services for international students and scholars. In addition, various international clubs and organizations, which encourage membership from all interested students, sponsor many social and cultural events open to all students.
International Campus Programming
Each year, the CIE selects an area of the globe as a special focus for the entire Berea College campus. The Director of International Education programs special campus-wide events related to the area of focus, including arranging for interdisciplinary special lectures and forums; planning cultural events (such as dance and music performances); hosting Fulbright scholars; and holding religious ceremonies. Faculty are invited to host visiting scholars in appropriate classes as guest lecturers. The international focus has been on Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South and Central Asia, and East Asia. Each year in the spring, the International Focus is announced for the upcoming academic year. By learning about “all peoples of the earth,” the CIE believes that the Berea learning experience can be deepened and strengthened. Additionally, a popular noon-time program for students, "TGIF- Think Globally, It's Friday" features international students and students who have returned from studying abroad, sharing about a specific country, while students enjoy a "home cooked" meal based on recipes from the same country.
Faculty and Curriculum Development toward Internationalization
The Director of International Education CIE encourages and facilitates faculty to develop their scholarship and teaching in international ways. On campus, the Director of International Education coordinates with academic departments and interdisciplinary programs to bring the year’s international focus into the curriculum and promotes faculty/staff development concerning that area of the world. The Director also encourages faculty to teach or conduct research abroad, publicizes faculty development opportunities abroad, and assists faculty in developing Berea International Summer Term courses.
Berea College encourages as many students as possible to study abroad to enrich their academic program by broadening their knowledge of the world, strengthening their intercultural understanding, and preparing them to make a contribution as citizens of the interdependent global community. The Education Abroad Advisor assists students in the selection of programs and all facets of education abroad. Students can choose to spend a Summer, Fall or Spring term in an academic program abroad. See “Education Abroad Policies” in the Student Handbook for more information.
Learning through Service
Established in 2000 and continuing Berea’s long history of student leadership in service and outreach with our community, the Center for Excellence in Learning through Service (CELTS) educates students for leadership in service and social justice. CELTS coordinates the campus’ student-led, community-service programs and supports service-learning in the academic curriculum. The work of CELTS supports Berea’s great commitments to promote the Christian ethic of service and to serve the Appalachian region.
Berea College students serve in collaboration with community-based organizations through the Bonner Scholars Program and through CELTS-based service programs focused on specific populations or community needs. Through their labor positions, students lead these service programs and coordinate activities including tutoring and mentoring children and teens, leading special programs for residents of long-term care facilities, helping to build houses for low-income families, providing English-language tutoring, organizing the annual community-wide Hunger Hurts Food Drive and the Empty Bowls fundraiser for local food banks, promoting student voter engagement, and taking on environmental and human rights issues.
CELTS also coordinates and supports service-learning in the academic curriculum. Service-learning is a pedagogy through which students engage in projects in collaboration with community-based organizations, as part of assigned coursework. These projects allow students to achieve academic learning goals by working with local leaders to address community issues. Critical reflection facilitates learning by helping students to draw connections between the service and learning experiences. Service-learning also facilitates the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and resources between Berea College and the community. Service-learning courses are taught each term in a variety of departments at Berea College. Designated service-learning courses meet the Active Learning Experience (ALE) requirement in the General Education curriculum. (See Opportunities Common to Many Fields of Study for more information on Service-Learning Courses.)
Berea College has a particular Christian self-understanding that makes it stand apart from most other schools that call themselves “Christian”. From their beginning, the Berea schools were never associated with any denomination or sectarian Christian church. Berea College’s founder, John G. Fee, argued that the Christian gospel could be described best by the phrase “impartial love” that welcomed students and staff from “every clime and every nation” to study and to work together. We are rooted in a Christian spirituality that is egalitarian, socially provocative, and focused on serving students of Appalachia and beyond.
The heart of the Christian gospel for Fee was summed up in the two great commandments enunciated by Jesus: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind…and you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37-40). Another biblical text that expressed the heart of the gospel for Fee and the Berea College community was the statement of the apostle Paul, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth” (Acts 17:26); a text that has stood as Berea’s motto for more than 125 years. Together, these and other such inclusive scriptural texts constituted what Fee understood as “the gospel of impartial love” which guided and challenged the earliest Berea community and still does today.
From Berea College’s beginning to the present day, we have welcomed “all peoples of the earth” with a hospitality that is inclusive. We are inclusive because we are Christian. In the spirit of radical Christian hospitality, we welcome all who accept Berea College’s core values of impartial love and service to others, whatever their culture, faith, or philosophy.
Out of this Christian self-understanding and a deep commitment to the liberal arts, Berea College educates its students about the many literary, historical, and contemporary expressions of Christian faith, ethic, and motive of service through its academic curriculum, convocation programs, worship services, and other means. Out of this same Christian and liberal arts identity, Berea College commits itself to fostering social justice and equality for all.
We strive to be a place where people with various Christian interpretations, different religious traditions, and no religious tradition work together in support of Berea’s Great Commitments. We do not ignore our differences, but rather seek to understand each other honestly and respectfully, and together create a climate where anyone can openly discuss what they believe without fear of sanction. To that end, all persons who are willing to share in the spirit and the work of the Great Commitments are welcome to study, to teach, and to work at Berea College.
The Campus Christian Center cultivates an atmosphere of radical hospitality and nurtures the spiritual wellness of the Berea College community by
- Educating about the Christian faith and its role in an academic context
- Providing pastoral care, pastoral counseling and crisis support for all members of the college community
- Advocating and practicing a service-oriented interpretation of Christian faith
- Leading the college in various forms of Christian worship
- Providing a prophetic voice for the unique vision of Berea College
- Developing and nurturing an ecumenical Christian atmosphere
- Facilitating interfaith education, conversation, and engagement.
Students are encouraged to become involved in CCC programs, organized campus religious groups, and in local places of worship.
A Residential College
To benefit fully from Berea’s curricular and co-curricular programs, students are expected to live in College residence halls and eat in the College’s dining facilities. In the residence halls, students learn to live with others from a spectrum of the world’s cultures. Because Berea values the learning that comes from daily living with those different from oneself, initial room assignments for first-year students may be changed only with special approval. Each spring, continuing students make their own choices of rooms and roommates through a lottery system.
Berea students are offered a variety of living spaces within the College’s residence halls, many of which have undergone renovation through an ambitious program to modernize campus facilities while retaining their distinctive character. Halls vary in architecture, size, room arrangement, atmosphere, and tradition. Some residences feature suites with common living room-like spaces, while others offer traditional single- or double-occupancy rooms opening onto conventional hallways. Some halls are reserved for first-year students while others house upper-classification students. There also are family-housing and Ecovillage apartments for qualifying student families.
The Student Life Team is a team of student-life professionals, some who live in the residence halls and oversee day-to-day life, program implementation, and hall-wide activities. Many upper-classification students serve as Hall Coordinators, Monitors, and Residence Assistants through the Labor Program.
A College-operated shuttle van runs on a regular schedule to local shopping areas and to nearby cities on weekends. In keeping with the College’s commitment to sustainable-living practices, and in recognition of the benefits of a residential education, most students are not permitted to have cars on campus or in the Berea community. First year students are not permitted to have vehicles. Parking spaces are limited, so seniors are permitted to have vehicles as long as the students are in good standing with the College (not on probation), then juniors and sophomores in good standing may apply for remaining parking permits on a first-come, first-served basis once the senior quota has been reached. Some special exceptions are made only for the following circumstances: student’s home residence is an eight-hour or longer drive from campus, “independent” student status (based on FAFSA definition), or in some situations that require personal medical appointments outside of the area. The Office of Public Safety monitors and administers the Motor Vehicle Policy and enforces parking restrictions.
Sustainable Community Living
One of Berea’s Being and Becoming “learning goals” is to understand the relationship between humans and the natural world. To advance this goal, the College established the multidisciplinary Sustainability & Environmental Studies Department (including an academic minor) that emphasizes experiential learning and the application of ecological design to the development of sustainable communities. The Ecovillage, an experiment in sustainable living, is part of an on-going program of campus renovation and construction based on ecological design that offers many opportunities for students to participate in the development of a sustainable campus. In addition, the College has restructured its traditional agriculture department into a model Agriculture and Natural Resources Department (including a major and a minor) that focuses on sustainable agriculture and small-scale farming. Through these departments and more, Berea students and faculty explore how current resource needs can be met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This is a complex question with social, ecological, economic, spiritual, ethical, political, scientific, and technological dimensions that invites the participation of students from nearly every discipline in helping the College to teach and practice sustainability.
Berea College encourages its students to become active in the community and to learn by doing. Student activities are vital companions to classroom learning and such activities enrich one’s collegiate experience.
The College sponsors clubs and organizations through which students learn such valuable skills as how to lead, how to manage time and budgets, and how to work collaboratively.
Students take responsibility for organizing and running most events. The student-run Campus Activities Board (CAB) plans and sponsors comedy shows, dances, bands, movies, art exhibits, festivals, game shows, talent shows, and concerts. Events are open to all students and supported by an Activities Fee. Residence halls and student clubs and organizations also sponsor numerous special interest and cultural activities.
Campus activities are extensive. The Theatre Laboratory produces three or four plays per year, and Alpha Psi Omega, the national theatre honorary society, occasionally stages student-directed plays. Musical groups include the Black Music Ensemble, College Band, College Orchestra, Concert Choir, and ensemble groups. The Berea College Country Dancers and the Modern Dance Group perform regularly on campus and often go on performance tours and competitions. Four student publications—The Pinnacle, a campus newspaper; Onyx, a black literary magazine; Carillon, a magazine for student writings that is published by the Center for Teaching and Learning; and The Chimes, a yearbook—offer students the opportunity to express creativity through writing, photography, and production.
The Convocation Program contributes to the dynamic atmosphere on campus through sponsorship of concerts, plays, dance performances, films, and lectures by noted artists and scholars. Similarly, the Campus Christian Council, comprised of campus and community religious groups, works to promote various expressions of faith and sponsors opportunities for Christian fellowship and spiritual growth.
Berea’s abiding devotion to multicultural and international concerns, and to community service and civic involvement, finds expression in the activities of the African Student Association, the Black Music Ensemble, the Black Student Union, Bonner Scholars, the Center for Excellence in Learning through Service, Habitat for Humanity, People Who Care, Students for Appalachia, and many other student groups. The Black Cultural Center, the Center for International Education, and the Cosmopolitan Club sponsor activities for all students interested in sharing their own and learning about other cultures.
The College celebrates its Appalachian heritage and the importance of student work by canceling classes and sponsoring traditional events that bring the community together for Mountain Day in the fall and Labor Day in the spring. The mountains, woods, and streams in and near Berea make outdoor recreational activities like fishing, camping, hiking, and mountain biking readily available. Within the College-owned forest lie numerous picnic sites and hiking trails.
All Berea students are members of the Student Government Association (SGA), which provides official representation of students in College governance bodies and in other College decision-making venues. The SGA oversees campus elections and provides some student services. It works hand-in-hand with clubs, organizations, and residence halls whose representatives serve on various committees that help govern the entire community.
Berea’s Health and Human Performance Department, its 16 varsity athletic teams, and an array of recreational and intramural sports programs call the Seabury Center home. This regionally recognized facility offers gymnasia, an indoor pool, racquetball courts, indoor track, weight room, wellness center, state-of-the-art classrooms, and multipurpose spaces. Its main arena seats 2,000 for basketball games and 2,800 for stage events, and hosts the annual Spring commencement ceremony. Just outside are athletic fields, an all-weather track, and 10 tennis courts, five of which are lighted.
Berea’s varsity teams are very successful. While Berea offers no athletic grants in aid, teams continue to be very competitive in conference, regional, and national championships. Berea is represented at national-level competition each season by several sports.
At the varsity level, the Berea Mountaineers have developed a long-standing, winning tradition. The athletic program transitioned to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III in 2014-15 and competes in the USA South Athletic Conference. Male student-athletes compete in baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, and track and field (indoor and outdoor), while female student-athletes compete in basketball, cross country, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field (indoor and outdoor), and volleyball.
Berea’s educational program includes courses in physical fitness, health, and wellness, and students are encouraged to participate in co-curricular athletic programs as well. The College offers a wide range of intercollegiate, intramural, and club sports, and this enables students to choose a level of competition appropriate to their abilities and interests.
More students choose to be involved in intramural sports and outdoor adventures than in any other activity at Berea. The recreational sports program is vigorous and comprehensive, offering individual, dual, coed, and single-gender competition. Recreational sports include basketball, flag football, racquetball, soccer, volleyball, dodgeball, rock climbing, hiking, water sports and archery.
An Enriching Technological Environment
Recognizing that today’s citizens must be technologically sophisticated and tomorrow’s must be even more so, Berea College has invested more than $6 million in its computer-network infrastructure and will continue to add to this investment as buildings on campus are renovated, and as wireless network access expands on campus. The College provides students with broad access to electronic information and assists its students in developing strong information-technology literacy skills needed to succeed in today’s world. Information technologies are used to enhance student learning in all the disciplines.
The College’s powerful fiber-optic network is available in more than 80 campus buildings, linking students, faculty, and staff from more than 8000 data ports in classrooms, offices, residence-halls, and public spaces throughout the campus, and includes an 85-megabit connection (dual 1-Gigabit connections) to the Internet. Wireless network access is available in all academic and administrative buildings, residence hall lounges and the Quadrangle, Fee Glade, and Crossroads outdoor areas.
In addition, the College provides a laptop computer to each student. The program allows students access to software functions and network resources almost anytime, anywhere on campus. These computers run standard word processing, spreadsheet, and database software, as well as specialized academic software, as needed. Specialized computer labs are provided for access to graphics rendering, video editing, and other high-end applications that may not operate as efficiently on a laptop computer. Students have access through the College’s network to their e-mail, the Internet, academic file sharing resources, Moodle course-management software, and the online library catalog (BANC).
When they enroll, students also receive access to Berea’s virtual learning community with their own personalized access to the MyBerea Web portal. MyBerea provides single sign-on access to various systems designed to support student academic success and monitor individual progress in reaching academic goals. Through Berea’s Labor Program, many students learn valuable skills as computer consultants or technicians.
It is the policy of Berea College not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, age, sex, physical or mental disability, pregnancy status, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information or covered veteran’s status in its admissions policies and all of its programs, activities or employment practices. This policy is intended to comply with the requirements of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regulations of the Internal Revenue Service, and all other applicable federal, state and local statutes, ordinances and regulations.
Approved by the General Faculty Assembly (December 2015) and the Board of Trustees (April 2016).
The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policies:
Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion
Title IX Coordinator and ADA Coordinator
Community Aspirations Statement
Berea College strives to create a rich learning community that welcomes and respects “all peoples of the earth.” In the context of the Great Commitments and its long-standing tradition of “impartial love,” Berea seeks to provide a community of social equality that is welcoming of diversity. For that reason, discrimination of any form is contrary to Berea’s values. This includes, for example, any personally identifiable differences such as those identified in the non-discrimination statement, but also extending to national or regional origin, accent or dialect, and cultural background.
A number of groups contribute to the Berea College community. Faculty are appreciated and value one another for their academic talents, participation in the shared task of responsible instruction, engaged advising of students, and labor supervision. Administrators and staff members engage in all facets of the campus and participate in the education of students through operation of Centers and departments, provision of learning resources such as the library and information technology, participation in residential education, and supervision within the Labor Program. Students inspire one another and members of the community through stories of enterprise and initiative, by taking full advantage of the learning opportunities offered by the College, and moving on to lives of service and accomplishment. In their relationships and in their academic work and labor, students conduct themselves with honesty and integrity.
Interactive relationships and engagement not only within but also between these groups form the foundation of Berea’s academic community. Members of each group learn from and educate the others. Faculty and staff partner in providing an engaged and transformative educational experience for all of Berea’s students and enjoy learning from one another as colleagues. This rich learning community encompasses students as well, both when they are on campus and later when they are in the world as Berea graduates. Learning in the Berea community is mutual and reciprocal, and governance is shared and collaborative.
Berea College values freedom of expression and collegiality. Education and edification both proceed through rich engagement and honest sharing of knowledge, perspectives, and insights. Hindrances to dialogue and free expression can very much impede learning. The concept and application of academic freedom at Berea College protect these values and are articulated in the Faculty Manual. While these rights and responsibilities specifically apply to teaching faculty at the College, they should also be taken as a guide for other members of the community, along with the Workplace Expectations. Dialogue, engagement, and learning, however, can also be limited when prejudice, discrimination, or insensitivity result in the discouragement and silencing of members of the community. The Berea College community functions best when all members are doing everything possible to learn from one another, when all make charitable assumptions regarding the intent of others, and when all value rich dialogue and commit to responsibility and sensitivity in their engagement with others.
Relationships extending beyond the College are also important, and in all these interactions members of the College community strive to be good neighbors, as does the institution itself. The College values the good will and respect of the City and its residents as well as that of visitors to the area. Bereans are aware that their dealings and activities will influence views of others about the school and its mission. They aim to be good citizens and to participate actively and positively in civic life, striving to conduct their affairs so as to enhance the quality of life for all, and respecting the property and interests of others. Bereans realize the value and necessity of challenging one another and those others who share this place with us for purposes of education and to promote necessary social change, but endeavor to do so in ways that avoid the giving of unnecessary offence.
This statement of community aspirations describes the values that the students, faculty, staff and alumni of Berea College are encouraged to endorse and to uphold. This statement does not mandate these values and is not intended to restrict any person’s conscience or academic or personal freedoms. It is hoped that all Bereans will choose to make these values their own and to live by them on campus, in the local community, and in the wider world.
Approved by the General Faculty Assembly, February 9, 2016
 The Great Commitments constitute the mission statement of Berea College and define its identity. See http://catalog.berea.edu/en/Current/Faculty-Manual/The-Great-Commitments-of-Berea-College
The Great Commitments
Berea College, founded by ardent abolitionists and radical reformers, continues today as an educational institution still firmly rooted in its historic purpose “to promote the cause of Christ.” Adherence to the College’s scriptural foundation, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth” (Acts 17:26), shapes the College’s culture and programs so that students and staff alike can work toward both personal goals and a vision of a world shaped by Christian values, such as the power of love over hate, human dignity and equality, and peace with justice. This environment frees persons to be active learners, workers, and servers as members of the academic community and as citizens of the world. The Berea experience nurtures intellectual, physical, aesthetic, emotional, and spiritual potentials and with those the power to make meaningful commitments and translate them into action.
To achieve this purpose, Berea College commits itself:
To provide an educational opportunity for students of all races, primarily from Appalachia, who have great promise and limited economic resources.
To offer a high-quality liberal arts education that engages students as they pursue their personal, academic, and professional goals.
To stimulate understanding of the Christian faith and its many expressions and to emphasize the Christian ethic and the motive of service to others.
To promote learning and serving in community through the student Labor Program, honoring the dignity and utility of all work, mental and manual, and taking pride in work well done.
To assert the kinship of all people and to provide interracial education with a particular emphasis on understanding and equality among blacks and whites as a foundation for building community among all peoples of the earth.
To create a democratic community dedicated to education and gender equality.
To maintain a residential campus and to encourage in all community members a way of life characterized by mindful and sustainable living, health and wellness, zest for learning, high personal standards, and a concern for the welfare of others.
To engage Appalachian communities, families, and students in partnership for mutual learning, growth, and service.
First articulated in 1962, the Great Commitments represent the historic aims and purposes of Berea College since its founding in 1855. The Great Commitments were originally adopted by the General Faculty and the Board of Trustees in 1969; they were revised and similarly approved in 1993 and most recently in 2017.