Statement from Incoming Berea College President Cheryl Nixon
June 30, 2023
Dr. Cheryl Nixon, who takes office as Berea College’s 10th President on July 1, has issued the following statement on Berea’s mission in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s recent decision on the use of race as a factor in college and university admissions. This follows her remarks at today’s Presidential Transition Ceremony on campus.
“Berea College is unique in American higher education, and our situation is very different than other colleges and universities. Stemming from their understanding of the Christian faith and scripture found in Acts 17:26 that ‘God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,’ our founders and early leaders pursued interracial education as a principal tenet of Berea’s mission. This was interrupted by Kentucky’s infamous Day Law in 1905 that was affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1908 and followed by a period of forced segregation that ended in 1950. Following reintegration, we have come to understand that our commitment to interracial education is a principal source of our excellence and strength. This is an integral part of Berea’s Great Commitments that represent the historic aims and purposes of this College. First articulated in 1962, they were adopted by our Board of Trustees in 1969 and most recently reaffirmed in 2017. These are the seminal principles that guide Berea.
“I must state as strongly and emphatically as possible that the Supreme Court’s decision this week will not cause us to back away from our commitment to interracial education. It has been both the firm foundation on which we stand and shining light that guides us to a more perfect future. I ask all Bereans to join with me to ensure that our values and our commitments are strengthened and that we stand together in putting these ideals into action. We were founded on the principle of equality; this is our commitment and we will not waiver.
“Our mission and size are such that we can and will continue to consider every aspect of each prospective student’s personal journey, their perseverance, their commitment and ability to take advantage of every opportunity that Berea can offer.
“As Berea’s next president, I pledge to the uphold our Great Commitments, the College’s Christian Identity Statement, our service to Appalachia and, in this critical time, our commitment to interracial education. We will do this together through the collective efforts of our students, staff, faculty, trustees, alumni and friends both here in Berea and across the country.”