68 Berea College Students Recognized at Mid-Year Graduation


On Sunday, December 13, the 68 Berea College graduates who participated in the Mid-Year Recognition Ceremony heard about achieving “Success in a Changing World” from R. Elton White, a 1965 graduate and former president of global technology company NCR Corporation. The event, held in Phelps Stokes Chapel, recognized students who are expected to complete degree requirements at the end of January 2016.

In addition to the constructive tips offered by White, the ceremony featured an invocation led by Mark Andrew Ross, a member of the senior class; musical selections performed by the Black Music Ensemble; recognition of seniors who were the first in their family to graduate from college; remarks by Berea College President Lyle D. Roelofs; awarding of degrees; and a benediction by Reverend Gail Bowman.

White, who is a retired businessman with more than 40 years of experience, was employed by NCR Corporation for 27 years where he served as President and member of the Board of Directors. He also has served on numerous other corporate boards including Kohl’s, Keithley Instruments, Verifone, Conner Peripherals, Flowserve and Duriron. He has been a private investor and philanthropist for more than 20 years.

A native of Gary, West Virginia, White graduated from Berea College with a BS degree and with an MBA from the University of Kentucky. He has been honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Berea College and was inducted into the initial class of the College of Business and Economics Hall of Fame at the University of Kentucky.

White served on the Berea College Board of Trustees for 28 years, including 18 years as a trustee and 10 years as an honorary trustee. He chaired the board for five years. Currently, White focuses on changing the lives of families with children living in poverty and homelessness in his local community, where he serves as a board member and chair of the Investment Committee for the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, which provides over $20 million in annual support to priority needs in local communities along the Gulf Coast. Believing that the cycle of poverty can only be broken through education, he has led a project working with 30 nonprofit organizations to provide a total support system for homeless families with children to help them have the same educational opportunities that all other children have.

White met his wife Gordon Ann (Gordie), ’66, while they were students at Berea College. The Whites were recently honored with the 2015 Schoenbaum Humanitarian Award by the Salvation Army. They express great appreciation for Berea College and the opportunity they had for an excellent college education and share a desire to help others improve the quality of their lives.

Elton White Speaks to Berea College Graduates

Categories: News, People
Tags: commencement, graduation, R. Elton White, Students

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College admits only academically promising students with limited financial resources, primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia, although students come from 40 states and 70 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, earning 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.