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.
In 1983, Baskin returned to Berea with his wife, Symerdar, and became the first director of the Black Cultural Center and joined the College faculty. Through his contributions to Berea College, African and African American Studies became a distinctive program of academic study at the College.
Symerdar Baskin had never been to Berea before she and her husband visited to search for a new house before their move from Virginia. Once here, she grew to love the campus and students, often finding herself serving as a host to students who were unable to go home for the holidays. Those students, she said, became family. Even today, the Baskins keep in touch with many of those students.
In 2018, the Baskins decided to establish an endowed scholarship to help students and to carry their dedication into the future.
The Andrew and Symerdar Baskin Student Research Fund is scheduled to award its first scholarship in 2022. The scholarship is intended to promote continuing education and research in African American culture and history.
The Rodney C. Bussey Award of Special Merit is given to alumni who have been employed by the College in recognition of their outstanding service to, demonstrated loyal interest in, and extraordinary quality of work for Berea College.
Honorary Alumnus Awards are given to non-alumni in recognition of their outstanding service to, and demonstrated loyal interest in, Berea College.