Berea College Recognizes 80 Students at Mid-Year Ceremony

December mid-year graduates

Photo: Crystal Wylie ’05

Berea College recognized 80 students last week during its Mid-Year Ceremony. Alumnus and former Berea College Trustee Robert Yahng addressed the seniors, who represented 20 states and five different countries.

Robert Yahng commencement speaker

Berea College recognized 80 students last week during its Mid-Year Ceremony. Alumnus and former Berea College Trustee Robert Yahng addressed the seniors, who represented 20 states and five different countries.
Photo: Gaston Jarju ’23

Yahng, who was introduced by Board of Trustees Chair Stephanie Zeigler, spoke to the graduates of the importance of their achievement during what he called “extraordinary uncertainties.”

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Andrew and Symerdar Baskin Honored for Dedication, Commitment to Berea College

Baskins accepting alumni awards at Homecoming

Symerdar Baskin was awarded the Honorary Alumna Award and Andrew Baskin received the Rodney C. Bussey Award of Special Merit at Homecoming 2021.
Photo: Crystal Wylie ’05

The Berea College Alumni Association presented Andrew Baskin with the Rodney C. Bussey Award of Special Merit during this year’s Black Student Union Pageant. Baskin’s wife, Symerdar, was presented with an Honorary Alumna Award.

Andrew Baskin was raised in Alcoa, Tenn., and came to Berea as a student in 1968. He majored in history and graduated in 1972 with enough hours for a double major in Black studies. In 1975, he earned a master’s degree in history at Virginia Tech University and went on to teach at Ferrum College in Virginia.

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New Boone Tavern Executive Chef Looks to Return to Tradition

Chef Paul Runnels

Chef Paul Runnels, the new chef at Berea’s Historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant, has big plans for the historic restaurant.
Photo by Osman Bin Aamir ’24 / Berea College

Huntington-native Paul Runnels takes the helm as executive chef

At the young age of 14, Chef Paul Runnels knew he belonged in a kitchen.

He applied for a job at the Huntington Country Club, where he was hired to wash dishes. But he found he just couldn’t do that. He had too many questions. He wanted to know more.

“On my first day, I asked the chef what he was doing, and he said he was carving fruits and vegetables for trays,” Runnels recalled. “I told him I could do that, and he said ‘yeah, right.’ He found out really quick that I could.”

From his first job in his hometown of Huntington, W.Va., Runnells set his sights on becoming a chef, and from there, he hasn’t looked back. His path has taken him from the Culinary Institute of America to several high-profile chef positions and back close to home at Berea’s Historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant, where he recently was hired as Executive Chef.

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Berea College Library Offering ‘Tour’ of 500 Historic, Regional Cookbooks

Extensive collection is part of the library’s Special Collections and Archives

Photograph of a Page from a Vintage Recipe Book for Turkey

If you’re looking for that special recipe for the upcoming holidays—maybe an “Emergency Cake” from the 1922 Chestnut Street Christian Church Cook Book or a “Very Plain Venison Pie” from Miss Leslie’s New Cookery Book published in 1857—Berea College’s Special Collections and Archives (SCA) has the cookbook collection to peruse.

Beginning the first Friday in November, patrons of Berea College’s Hutchins Library can “tour” selections from the 500 historic, regional cookbooks housed in the library’s SCA. Participants will receive free blank recipe cards for recording their favorite recipes while learning more about cooking styles from as early as the 1700s.

The weekly tours are part of the library’s “Friday Finds” programs, led by Tim Binkley, an assistant professor of library science who heads SCA.

“We have all seen cookbooks, but not everyone has had the opportunity to see cookbooks as old as some of the ones we have right here in the Hutchins Library,” Binkley said. “It is fascinating to flip through old cookbooks that have been donated to the library, including titles from the Appalachian regions of Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee, to find variations of familiar recipes and unusual recipes as well. Some of these publications originated from social clubs, churches and families. The variety of recipes in our collection is vast, and we are looking forward to sharing them with the public and learning more about cooking through the years.”

Binkley will encourage all participants to take home recipes to make and share on social media.

“My hope is that these tours will open the minds of participants not only to different ways of cooking, but also to the vast resources we have in the library’s Special Collections and Archives,” Binkley said. “Our library resources are tremendous, and I encourage students and the community to learn more about historic research materials that are available right here in their back yards.”

“Friday Finds” cookbook tours will be held from 2-3 p.m. on Nov. 5, Nov. 12, Nov. 19, Dec. 3, Dec. 10 and Dec. 17 at the Hutchins Library, located at 100 Campus Drive in Berea. To register, visit https://bctrace.com/explore/ and look for “Hutchins Library.” Each tour is limited to 12 participants. Attendees must provide proof of COVID vaccination to participate, and masks are required to be worn at all times.

SCA offers Berea College students and the public access to one-of-a-kind materials, including historic campus photographs, oral history recordings, traditional regional music and letters from Berea’s founders, early faculty and students. Special Collections and Archives supports the educational mission of Berea College by building and maintaining an extensive collection of primary-source materials documenting the history of Berea College, the Southern Appalachian region and the Berea community.

The SCA reading room is available by appointment by visiting https://berea.libcal.com/booking/rr. For more information on SCA, visit https://libraryguides.berea.edu/archives.

Berea College Board of Trustees Elects Two Members

The Berea College Board of Trustees has elected Megan Torres of Alexandria, Va., and Cassie Helen Chambers Armstrong of Louisville, Ky., to serve on the Berea College Board of Trustees.

Morgan Torres

Berea College Trustee Morgan Torres

After graduating from Berea College in 2009 with a degree in Business Administration, Torres returned to her home state of Virginia, where she worked at the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While there, she focused on a variety of projects, including contracting system administration, policy, training/certification management and performing market research for micro purchases.

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Berea President Lyle Roelofs announces retirement

Pres. Lyle Roelofs with First Lady Laurie Roelofs and First Dog

Berea College President Lyle Roelofs and First Lady Laurie Roelofs pose for a photo in front of the President’s Home with the First Dog.
Photo by Crystal Wylie ’05 / Berea College

College’s ninth leader will serve through June 2023

President Lyle Roelofs

Photo by Chris Radcliffe

Berea College President Lyle Roelofs has announced his decision to retire, effective June 30, 2023. Roelofs arrived in Berea with his wife, Laurie, in 2012 to serve as the institution’s ninth president. From the very beginning, the Board of Trustees has been consistently impressed and pleased with their adoption of all things Berea and their broad success. The Berea College community is thankful to have worked side by side with Lyle and Laurie for what will be 11 years.

“It has been an honor and so very satisfying to have served Berea College as its ninth president,” President Roelofs said. “Everything about this school, from its transformative mission to the wonderful students, staff, faculty, alumni and friends, have made this such a privilege for Laurie and me.”

“The Board of Trustees and I are truly grateful for Lyle and First Lady Laurie Roelofs’ tremendous service to Berea College, and we are thankful for their longevity of service,” said Board Chair Stephanie Zeigler. “Their timing was remarkably fortuitous, and given their steady and thoughtful leadership throughout the unimaginable challenges brought on by COVID-19, Berea College is in a place of strength. Lyle’s early announcement regarding his retirement allows us ample time and a competitive edge for our search.”

Throughout his tenure, Roelofs has stayed true to the remarkable and unique mission of Berea College, leading in significant ways that have transformed the campus and elevated the college’s national profile.

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Berea Named One of the Best 387 Colleges in the Princeton Review’s 2022 Guide

Berea College has again been named one of the nation’s “best institutions for undergraduates to earn their college degree” in The Princeton Review’s book, The Best 387 Colleges: 2022 Edition.”

Berea is nationally recognized for its high-quality education and its distinctive labor program, which hires every admitted student to help operate the school. Berea is also known for its Tuition Promise Scholarship that covers the annual tuition cost for every student.

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Berea College Listed as Top Kentucky College in The Wall Street Journal/THE 2022 Rankings

Berea College sign on campus in the spring

Photo by Tyler Rocquemore ’22 / Berea College

Berea College is ranked No. 148 – the highest-ranked Kentucky college – in The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education (THE) 2022 College Rankings. Berea also ranked No. 3 on the publication’s list of “Best Value Colleges” in the nation.

“We are thrilled to be the top-ranking Kentucky college in both The Wall Street Journal/THE overall list and their ‘Best Value Colleges’ list for 2022,” said Berea College President Lyle Roelofs. “One of our Great Commitments is to extend educational opportunity to all students – regardless of race or economic resources. Our no-tuition policy allows us to provide a high-quality college education to talented students who would not otherwise be able to afford it. Rankings like these put Berea on the map as students look for an affordable and transformative college experience.”

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Berea College, City Officials Dedicate Boone Trace Trail at Brushy Fork

Mayor Fraley, Dr. John fox, Berea College President Lyle Roelofs and First Lady Laurie Roelofs

Berea Mayor Bruce Fraley, Dr. John Fox, Berea College President Lyle Roelofs and First Lady Laurie Roelofs cut a ribbon celebrating the opening of Boone Trace Trail at Berea College’s Brushy Fork Park. The new trail is open to college students and the public, and follows the trail made in 1775 by Daniel Boone. – Photo by Gaston Jarju / Berea College

Visitors to Berea College’s Brushy Fork can now walk along the path blazed through Kentucky by Daniel Boone and his axemen, thanks to a collaboration between Berea College and the city of Berea.

Boone Trace Trail is open to Berea residents, students and visitors, with a rock-paved ¾-mile trail that lines up almost exactly with the path Boone and his team took in 1775 from North Carolina through the Cumberland Gap and on to Boonesborough.

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Berea College Again Named No. 1 Best Bang for the Buck in the South in the Washington Monthly 2021 College Guide and Rankings

Washington Monthly has again ranked Berea College the No. 1 Best Bang for the Buck College in the South in their 2021 College Guide and Rankings.

Berea College placed No. 13 in the publication’s 2021 overall ranking of liberal arts colleges.

Washington Monthly rankings are based on “the degree to which they recruit and graduate students of modest means, produce the scholarship and scholars that drive economic growth and human flourishing and encourage students to be active citizens and serve their country.”

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