Berea College’s Justin Skeens Wins Three Emmys

Berea College Director of Digital Storytelling Justin Skeens won three Emmy Awards during last week’s 58th Annual Ohio Valley Regional ceremony in Columbus, Ohio.


Categories: News
Tags: awards

Berea College Junior Nathaniel Fish Selected as 2022 Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellow

Berea College junior Nathaniel Fish has been selected to participate in Campus Compact’s 2022 Newman Civic Fellowship. The Newman Civic Fellowship recognizes and supports community-committed students who are change makers and public problem-solvers at Campus Compact member institutions.


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Tags: Newman civic fellowship

Lexington Gallery to Feature Works by Berea College Student Craft Program Staff, Apprentices

A gallery show featuring 40 individual pieces by 14 Berea College Student Craft Program staff and apprentice contributors will be featured throughout July at The Parachute Factory in Lexington. (more…)

Categories: News
Tags: apprenti, Crafts, student crafts, Woodcraft

Berea College Professor Silas House Awarded Duggins Prize, Largest Given to an LGBTQ Writer in the United States

Silas House

Silas House

New York Times bestselling writer and Berea College professor Silas House has been awarded a Duggins Prize for Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist, the largest prize given to an LGBTQ writer in the United States. The award is given annually by Lambda Literary to two novelists.

Categories: News
Tags: Appalachian Center, awards, faculty, Silas House

Berea College Board of Trustees Elects New Member

The Berea College Board of Trustees elected Brenda Williams Guy Lane as a board member for a six-year term. (more…)

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Tags: Board of Trustees

Berea College Launches $10 Million Campaign to Build Two Future-Focused Tech Buildings

Berea College today announced the launch of a capital campaign to construct two future-focused buildings that, when complete, will harness the power of computer science, digital media and information technology, and applied engineering and design (including sculpture and ceramics) to prepare the next generation of technology thinkers, makers and innovators. (more…)

Categories: News
Tags: Engineering Technologies and Applied Design Department, information technology, tech campaign, technology

Berea Students Awarded Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Grants

Two Berea College students have been awarded 2022 Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Grants. The $1,000 grants were awarded to 125 students across the nation. (more…)

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Tags: international study, Students, Study abroad

Money Names Berea College 20th Best Overall, 10th Best in the South

Berea College sign on campus in the spring

Photo: Tyler Rocquemore ’22

Money Magazine has named Berea College its 20th overall Best College and the 10th Best College in the South.

Editors have also found Berea College to be the best college in affordability. While they do not compile a separate list for affordability, their scoring formula captured Berea as having the best score of all the colleges in their ranking.

“We are excited about Money’s recognition of Berea College in this year’s rankings,” said Berea College President Lyle Roelofs. “As we continue to fulfill our commitment to providing educational opportunities to students who have great promise and limited economic resources —primarily from Appalachia—being recognized for that work ultimately helps us get the word out to students across the globe that even if they think they cannot afford to go to college, at Berea College, that may have that opportunity.”

To compile its 2022 Best Colleges list, Money looked at more than 2,400 four-year colleges with sufficient data and above-average graduation rates. From there, colleges were scored on 24 measures in three areas: quality, affordability and outcomes. In short: quality measures focus on graduation rates; affordability is weighed on the net price of a degree, student and parent borrowing and loan repayment rates; and outcomes are based on median earnings, the share of alumni working and the share of alumni earning more than other high school graduates.

“Berea College was founded as a Christian school with a mission of providing an education accessible to all,” Money says in its description. “In the past that meant Berea was one of the first colleges in the South to open its classes to people of color and women. Today, it means offering a path to a college degree for students with limited economic resources, especially those from the Appalachia region, where the college is located. As such, it’s not surprising that the small, liberal arts college is a standout for affordability, capturing the No. 1 spot for this measure in Money’s rankings. Nearly all first-year undergraduates are eligible for federal Pell Grants. Berea doesn’t charge tuition—all students work a minimum of 10 hours a week… At the end of their college careers students leave with a labor transcript along with a degree.”

For more information, please visit:

Money magazine was first published by Time Inc., in 1972. Its articles cover personal finance topics ranging from investing, saving, retirement and taxes to family finance issues like paying for college, credit, career and home improvement.

About Berea College

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College only admits academically promising students with limited financial resources—primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia—but welcomes students from 41 states and 76 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly to earn money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.




Categories: News
Tags: MONEY Magazine, ranking

Berea College Constructing Second Hydroelectric Generating Plant at Lock 14 in Beattyville

Lock 14 site

Berea College is building on the success of the Matilda Hamilton Fee Hydroelectric Station at Lock 12 on the Kentucky River by partnering with Appalachian Hydro Associates to build a second hydropower plant 35 miles upstream at Lock and Dam 14 near Heidelberg in Lee County. (Photo courtesy of Berea College)

Berea College is building on the success of the Matilda Hamilton Fee Hydroelectric Station at Lock 12 on the Kentucky River by partnering with Appalachian Hydro Associates to build a second hydropower plant 35 miles upstream at Lock and Dam 14 near Heidelberg in Lee County.

In 2021, Berea College became the first higher education institution in the nation to complete construction of a hydroelectric generating plant, located on the Kentucky River near Ravenna. (more…)

Categories: News
Tags: Board of Trustees, Matilda Hamilton Fee Hydroelectric Station, sustainability

Berea College Recognizes 260 Students During First In-Person Spring Graduation Ceremony Since 2019

Berea College sign on campus in the spring

Photo: Tyler Rocquemore ’22

During the first in-person spring commencement ceremony in three years due to COVID, Berea College recognized 260 students. This included 45 students who graduated between 2019-2021. The 215 graduates for 2022 represented 18 different countries.

Guest speaker Geoffrey Canada, globally renowned president and creator of the Harlem Children’s Zone and advocate for education reform, spoke during the ceremony on meeting challenges facing our youth. (more…)

Categories: News, People
Tags: alumni, commencement, Dr. Lyle Roelofs, Event, graduation

2022 Berea College Service Awards Presented to Former Berea College First Lady Jane Stephenson, Community Organizer Michael Maloney

Former Berea College First Lady Jane Stephenson and community organizer Michael Maloney have been presented with the 2022 Berea College Service awards.

Established in 1979 and awarded annually upon a vote of approval by the College’s General Faculty Assembly, the Berea College Service Award recognizes individuals who have provided outstanding service to our society in achieving the ideals of Berea’s Great Commitments. (more…)

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Tags: Berea College Service Award

Berea College Student Nationally Honored as Major of the Year in Health & Human Performance

Jaden Johnson

Jaden Johnson named Major of the Year in Health & Human Performance by Shape America

By Joey Martelli, Shape America

SHAPE America–Society of Health and Physical Educators honored Jaden Johnson of Berea College as a Major of the Year during the organization’s 136th National Convention and Expo, held April 26-30th in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The award celebrates outstanding undergraduate students in the health, physical education, recreation, and dance professions who are nominated by a faculty advisor or professor. Johnson was recognized on Tuesday, April 26th during the Opening General Session.

“The outstanding achievements of future professionals like Jaden is integral to the future of SHAPE America and our profession.” said SHAPE America President Terri Drain, the Founder and Coordinator of the Health and Physical Education Collaborative.


Categories: News, People, Programs and Initiatives
Tags: graduation, Health and Human Performance Department, shape america

Two Berea College Students Selected as Watson Fellows

Berea College sign on campus in the spring

Photo: Tyler Rocquemore ’22

Berea College students Maria Alejandra Hernandez Diaz ’22 and Hunter McDavid ’22 have been named Thomas J. Watson Fellows.

The 54th Class of Watson Fellows was selected from just 41 private colleges and university partners across the United States. This year, 42 students were selected from a national pool of finalists in an extremely competitive process.


Categories: News, People, Programs and Initiatives
Tags: graduation, Student Life, Thomas J. Watson Fellowship

Ezell National Tour Launches in Berea Over Earth Day Weekend

Ezell becomes the Appalachian Eagle during the Clear Creek premier of the full Ezell: Ballad of a Land Man performance (photo by Erica Chambers)

Ezell becomes the Appalachian Eagle during the Clear Creek premier of the full Ezell: Ballad of a Land Man performance (photo by Erica Chambers)

Ezell: Ballad of a Land Man, an award-winning outdoor eco-cultural theater, music and meal experience will be presented at the Berea College Forestry Outreach Center and the Pinnacles over Earth Day weekend, April 21 to 24, 2022.

Ezell is an environmental, cultural and spiritual parable derived from living in the foothills of Appalachia, one man among many seeking to make sense of the time, place and condition in which we live. In the story, Ezell’s choices, traumas, ancestors and more intersect with themes of domination and resilience as he seeks to take advantage of an anticipated fracking boom and the opportunity to reconnect with the people and land of his raising.


Categories: News, People, Programs and Initiatives
Tags: Forestry Outreach Center, Loyal Jones Appalachian Center, music, Pinnacles

Founding Member of Carolina Chocolate Drops, Sule Greg Wilson, to Perform at Berea College

Súle Greg Wilson

Súle Greg Wilson

Súle Greg Wilson, founding member of Carolina Chocolate Drops, will perform at Ballad Night at Berea College on Friday, April 22 at 7:30 p.m. in Gray Auditorium, Presser Hall. The evening is hosted by the Berea College Folk-Roots Ensemble.

Wilson will present a 30-minute set of African American ballads which will be followed by a ballad round robin. The performance is free and open to the public. All audience members must be masked as per college policy due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.


Categories: News, People, Programs and Initiatives
Tags: Concert, music, Music Department

National Book Foundation Authors Present “The Environment of Now” at Berea College

Can readers escape the end of the world? Join National Book Award–honored authors Julia Phillips (Disappearing Earth, 2019 Fiction finalist) and Jackie Wang (The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us from the Void, 2021 Poetry finalist) for readings and conversation on writing the environment of place and people in the 21st century.

The free event takes place on Tuesday, April 12, at 6 p.m. in the Berea College Alumni Building’s Baird Lounge. Refreshments will be available. Masks are required.

To bring cutting-edge authors to Appalachian Kentucky, the National Book Foundation’s public programming arm, NBF Presents, arranged these authors’ visits in partnership with Berea College and Appalshop (Letcher County).


Categories: News, Places, Programs and Initiatives
Tags: Ansel Elkins, Jason Howard, Loyal Jones Appalachian Center, National Book Foundation, Silas House

Berea College Joins New Collegiate Conference of the South Following USA South Separation

Basketball player dunking

Photo: Tyler Rocquemore ’22

Nine member institutions of the USA South Athletic Conference (USAS) have officially formed and have been approved by the NCAA as a new Division III athletic conference, following a planned separation of USAS. This new conference, the “Collegiate Conference of the South” (CCS), will include Agnes Scott College, Belhaven University, Berea College, Covenant College, Huntingdon College, LaGrange College, Maryville College, Piedmont University, and Wesleyan College.


Categories: News, Programs and Initiatives
Tags: athletics, NCAA, NCAA Division III

Berea College Woodworking School at Pine Croft Spring Registration Now Open

Kelly Mehler

Kelly Mehler, who ran his own woodworking school on the Pine Croft site, led a previous class at the Woodworking School at Pine Croft.

Berea College’s Woodworking School at Pine Croft will be buzzing with activity beginning in April with a new slate of classes that include guest instructors teaching their trade.

The first full session in October 2019 was attended by students from Kentucky as well as Florida, North Carolina, Michigan and Minnesota. Andy Glenn, head of the Woodworking School at Pine Croft, hopes to see an even greater interest this time around.

“We are just getting started with Pine Croft,” Glenn said. “2020 and 2021 proved challenging, but we’re excited for the future. We have a great slate of instructors scheduled for 2022 and a wide range of classes.”

Three guest instructors will be part of the Spring 2022 class schedule.


Categories: News, Programs and Initiatives
Tags: Crafts, Pine Croft, Woodcraft, Woodworking School at Pine Croft

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.”


Categories: News, People
Tags: commencement, graduation, mid-year commencement, trustee

Statement on the death of bell hooks from Berea College

bell hooks presenting papers to Berea College in 2015

bell hooks speaking during the formal presentation of her papers to Berea College on April 10, 2017.
(Photo: Bethany Posey ’18)

Berea College is deeply saddened about the death of bell hooks, Distinguished Professor in Residence in Appalachian Studies, prodigious author, public intellectual and one of the country’s foremost feminist scholars. She died at her home in Berea after an extended illness.

Born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, Ky., on Sept. 25, 1952, she adopted the pen name “bell hooks” from her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks.


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Tags: bell hooks

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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Tags: alumni, Alumni Awards, homecoming

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.


Categories: News, People, Places
Tags: Boone Tavern

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 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 For more information on SCA, visit

Categories: News, Programs and Initiatives

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.


Categories: News, People
Tags: alumni, Board of Trustees, trustee