Showing Their Support: Women Help Ensure Berea’s Success


As we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month, we focus this week on women who have financially supported Berea College and its students. Of course, there literally are thousands of names that could be shared here, but we focus on a few, past and present, who represent the generosity of so many women who have made it their personal mission to share their financial resources for the benefit of Berea College and those we serve.

Olivia Phelps Stokes

Olivia Phelps Stokes

Image courtesy of The Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

One of America’s earliest female philanthropists, Olivia Phelps Stokes began contributing to Berea College in the late 1800s. When the College’s wooden chapel burned in 1902, she offered to provide the funds for a new brick chapel on the condition that it be built by the students. The Chapel was dedicated in January 1906. In 1917, she provided funds for the Chimes in the Chapel’s bell tower to commemorate the 25th presidential year of William Goodell Frost. After her death, the Chapel was named in her memory.

Clara Strong Phillips

Berea College made it possible for Clara to overcome a nightmarish childhood and realize her dreams, and in return she made it a longstanding tradition in her life to support students at the college.

Kay Smith

As an educator, Berea’s mission to provide students in need with an excellent education resonated deeply with Kay, who now takes the time to get to know every student that benefits from her scholarship endowment.

Shirley Fowler

Originally drawn to support the mission of Berea College, Shirley, a private money manager, was very impressed with the balance sheets of the College, which ultimately fueled her desire to go beyond financially supporting the College. This led her to serve as a member of the President’s Council and to create the Shirley B. Fowler Summer Science Research Fund.

Helena Jacobs Mink

Helena Mink

A 1951 Berea graduate, Helena Jacobs Mink has been a loyal alumna and faithful donor. She has served as secretary and agent to her classmates, as well as serving on the Alumni Council and the President’s Council. She also provided the funds to establish Berea’s Legacy Wall, located in the Fee Glade, which contains the engraved names of every donor in the history of Berea College who has given a bequest to Berea College through his/her will.

Categories: News, People
Tags: donor, Philanthropy, Women’s History Month

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 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 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.