In many ways it was a banner year full of significant challenges, accomplishments and change at Berea College. We saw alumni serving as leaders in their communities, students learning and growing and showing that they, indeed, have lives of great promise, faculty and staff earning impressive professional achievements, and the college as an institution undergoing (perhaps unprecedented) significant positive change. It was difficult limiting our list to just 10, and there are many honorable mentions that didn’t make the cut, including: Carter G. Woodson Center planned, student Shai Anderson named Kentucky Student Employee of the Year, the progression of Grow Appalachia (a program funded by John Paul DeJoria, co-founder and CEO of Paul Mitchell Products), the Hal Moses Summer Research Internship Program at Vanderbilt, the Bluegrass Ensemble and Country Dancers’ performances in New York City, administrators and alumni presenting during a Capitol Hill briefing on the Pell Grant program, Erin Finsel selected as a Compton Mentor Fellow, the Black Cultural Center’s alternative spring break in Harlem, and the college being named a Top 100 Social Media College, among many others. We were here for it all, and here are our top 10 moments for Berea College this year.
Despite the newsy headline, we’re not celebrating Djuan’s top ten finish, although that’s certainly a newsworthy accomplishment. We’re celebrating her ability to draw attention to Berea’s mission on a national stage, her commitment to service and her platform for addressing homelessness. Congratulations, Djuan, and thanks for spreading the Berea message.
Having a former President mention your college on a national stage is certainly something wished for but rarely seen. We were fortunate enough this year to be mentioned by President Clinton during a conference in Washington D.C. on July 6, 2011. It’s hard to believe this was so high on our list. Thanks, Mr. President.
In 2011, Berea College was named to the 2010 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. This is the second straight year that the Corporation for National and Community Service has named Berea College to this prestigious group. To be named to the Honor Roll, a school must demonstrate that its students, faculty and staff are engaged in meaningful service that achieves measurable results in the community. For the 2009-10 academic year, 614 Berea College students participated in at least twenty hours of community service projects or service-learning course work over the reporting period. This total represents 40% of our total student body and 88,120 hours of service provided to our community. Some awards are as common as old shoes, but when you have one of this magnitude that directly relates to Berea’s mission… then you have #8 on our list.
#7- Academic Restructuring/Center for Transformative Learning
2011 saw many of the components of our “Engaged and Transformative Learning” academic restructuring plan put into place. Some of the “building blocks” of this plan have been completed, including: increasing enrollment to 1,600 students, restructuring the co-curricular centers, restructuring the administrative and academic support areas, creating a new academic calendar, and the Trustee Investment Committee’s consideration of Berea’s investment policies and practices.
2012 will see Berea’s continuing to adapt and grow as a model liberal arts college. Our # 7 entry is the one which most clearly encapsulates the direction of the college this year.
On December 5, President Obama held a two-hour roundtable discussion on making college more affordable for our nation’s students. The President hosted White House senior officials, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, higher education thought leaders from across the country, and a dozen college presidents, including Berea College President Larry Shinn, to discuss rising college costs and strategies to reduce these costs while improving quality. “Obama is serious about wanting to pursue his goal of having more Americans receive a college or technical education that prepares them for the work force,” Shinn said. “My sense is that what Duncan and the President will do with what they heard Monday is take these ideas, sort through them, decide which ones are feasible and scalable to a state and national level, and then come back with specific proposals.” What an honor for Dr. Shinn and the college!