People Services

Employee Handbook – Chapter 1



Dear Berea College Employees:

Greetings!  I am happy to welcome you to Berea College, a unique school, community and workplace.  Founded in 1855 by abolitionists, Berea was the first interracial and coeducational college in the South and, throughout its history, has been dedicated to serving the needs of the economically disadvantaged youth of the Appalachian region.  Today, Berea College continues and extends its founding legacy as an inclusive community that welcomes “all peoples of the earth” to study and work at the College.

Berea’s Biblical motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” expresses well the College’s non-sectarian Christian tradition.  Our inclusive Christian identity recognizes that a diversity of faiths, backgrounds, nationalities, and ethnicities provides a strong foundation not only for student learning, but for a creative, collaborative workplace as well.  The College’s mission is summarized in its eight Great Commitments, and the Berea College Workplace Expectations are, in turn, a direct expression of those Commitments.  It is through our collective enthusiasm for learning; integrity and caring; valuing of all people; teamwork; service to others; plain and sustainable living; and celebration of work well done that we are able to extend the founding principles of Berea College in our work today.

As part of an integrated learning community, employees are expected to apply these Workplace Expectations to their position responsibilities, their interactions with co-workers and students, and their personal and professional growth.  Through Berea’s unique Labor Program, many staff members also contribute to the education of Berea students as their supervisors.

As you read through the Berea College Employee Handbook, I invite you to reflect on Berea’s powerful mission and the Workplace Expectations in the context of the talents and learning opportunities you bring to our vibrant community.  Again, I welcome you to the rich working and learning environment of Berea College.

                                                                                    Warmest regards,

Lyle D. Roelofs



This Handbook has been prepared to answer some of the questions you may have concerning the College and its policies. Please read it carefully and retain it for future reference. The policies stated in this Handbook are subject to change at the sole discretion of the College. From time to time, you may receive updated information concerning changes in policy. Should you have any questions regarding any policies, please ask your supervisor or a member of the College’s Office of People Services for assistance.

This Handbook and its contents do not constitute an express or implied contract of employment. Unless otherwise provided in an express written contract, employment at the College is at will and may be terminated for any reason, with or without notice, by the College or by you, as an employee. Only the President of the College or his/her designee is authorized to bind the College to a written contract of employment.

In this Handbook, the College has endeavored to provide you with an overview of the policies and procedures that will promote positive employee relations and a productive workplace of which we all can be proud. With the distinctive educational mission of the College and the full-tuition scholarship provided to every student at Berea, it is even more imperative that each and every staff member performs the duties assigned to them and do so effectively, congenially and collaboratively. Creating an atmosphere where all who come to the College are welcome to work, learn and serve together requires all of us to demonstrate the high levels of courtesy and respect for one another and the many students, community members, visitors, and friends of the College with whom we have contact on a daily basis.

This Handbook is designed to provide information that will make it easier for you to develop and maintain successful relationships as a member of the Berea College staff. It provides a general view of the College’s employee benefits, your responsibilities as an employee, and work rules at the College. The Handbook should also help you answer the most commonly asked questions about employment at the College. It is impossible to write policies that will cover every possible situation and it is also highly unlikely that existing policies will not require some modification over time. Consequently, the College reserves the right to interpret, modify or make exceptions to its policies and procedures at any time, and to terminate existing policies or add new ones as necessary. 

Scope and Application

This Handbook and the policies stated herein are applicable to all employees of Berea College, including administration, staff and faculty. Provided, however, in the application of this Handbook to members of the College faculty, should there be an express conflict between any provision of this Handbook and the Faculty Manual, then the latter shall have precedence. In addition, certain policies such as the General Harassment Policy and the Sexual Harassment Policy are applicable to all members of the College community. 

From  the  Office  of  People  Services

Suite 100, Fairchild Hall

  The Office of People Services serves as a resource center for the staff and faculty of Berea College. Compensation, benefits, employee activities, learning and training opportunities and various recognition efforts are managed through this office. You are encouraged to alert the People Services staff if you have a question, a concern or a complaint with which they may be able to assist you. Go to for a list of People Services staff members and their contact information.


Berea’s History and Distinctive Mission

Since its founding in 1855, Berea College’s spiritual foundation, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” has shaped the institution’s culture and programs. Founder John G. Fee, an ardent abolitionist, asserted that Berea was founded “in the midst of many privations and persecutions to preach and apply a gospel of impartial love…”Guided by this inclusive Christian message of impartial love, Berea’s founders held fast to their radical vision of a college and a community committed to interracial education, to the Appalachian region, and to the equality of all women and men from all “nations and climes.” This spiritual heritage compelled Berea College to serve all persons regardless of race, creed, color, gender, or class and led the College to draw its students from two immediate constituencies: African-Americans freed by the American Civil War and “loyal” white mountaineers. Guided by a self-help philosophy, Berea’s distinctive character has long been its commitment to seek out promising low-income people in the mountains of Central and Southern Appalachia and provide them a tuition-free education. A significant distinction in the Berea mission is that rather than following the typical tuition-based model, the College early on developed a work program so that its students could take advantage of a private liberal arts education-a tuition free education otherwise unaffordable to them. Today, 80 percent of Berea’s students come from Kentucky and the Appalachian region; the remainder come from the rest of the United States and from around the world. In recent years, more than 18 percent of the College’s students are African-Americans; 4 percent are Hispanic; 1 percent are Asian; in 2013, international students who represent over 55 countries comprise 7% percent of the student population. Such diversity reveals Berea’s openness to all people and prepares Berea students for living in a multicultural world. Likewise, supporting single parents in their academic and personal development echoes Berea’s history of rejecting divisions based on class and gender. Recognizing the College’s remarkable mission, former President William J. Hutchins described Berea as a place where students build “bridges to the stars.”

Revised: 2/2013

Committed to excellence in education

“Berea’s motto and commitments invite… deep learning. A deep learning that fills the head and the heart so that we might serve others… A deep learning that stems from ancient roots but serves well our modern imperatives.” The core of Berea’s general studies program that is required of all students is distinctly liberal arts in nature, and the liberal arts pervade the design of the College’s pedagogy and curriculum. Frequently ranked as the South’s finest regional liberal arts college, the College was from the beginning, as former President Francis Hutchins observed, “…both academic and practical. Thus the utilitarian and the practical, the scientific and the spiritual, have always been part of our heritage.”  In keeping with the College’s mission of life-long learning, faculty and staff are provided with professional development opportunities in the classroom and in the workplace. Endowed chairs provide exemplars of excellence in teaching and leadership and ensure key faculty positions in perpetuity.

Committed to work

From the beginning, the College’s charter promised “opportunities for manual labor as an assistance in self-support.” Whether they are assisting in the computer center or maintaining the campus grounds, Berea students integrate productive work, disciplined learning, career exploration, and personal development by working 10 to 15 hours per week in any one of 130 labor departments that range from food service, to handicrafts, to technology, and academic research. Beyond its practical goal of self-help, the College’s work program is grounded in the belief that all work has “dignity as well as utility” and that work is service in community. In addition, Berea students really “earn” a portion of their education costs.

Committed to service

As President John Stephenson wrote, “Berea is, as it has always been, more than just a college. It is … an opportunity school for all those … who need what we have to give.” Throughout its history, the College has found innovative avenues of service. In earlier days, a mule-drawn book wagon spread literacy and good reading into nearby mountain counties. The original “Opportunity School” provided enrichment in literature, music, and handicrafts for adults in small, remote communities. The “contrast house” was a model home that promoted inexpensive building and interior design, using local resources and traditions.

Today, Berea students, faculty, and staff work together to address the needs of our communities-both local and national. In combining service and academic activities, faculty and students may develop intellectual, physical, and spiritual characteristics that translate into committed action. Berea’s new Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service (CELTS) assists in coordinating and expanding curricular and co-curricular efforts to encourage students and employees to serve others, whether it be tutoring at risk students, reaching out to mentally and physically challenged persons, assisting in local schools, or other forms of community service. The Brushy Fork Institute cultivates local leadership in Appalachian counties aimed at economic, community, and educational development. The Entrepreneurship for the Public Good Program, which complements the College’s internship program, fosters skills in creative problem-solving, collaborative leadership, and calculated risk-taking through classroom instruction as well as internships with small non-profit and community organizations.

Revised: 2/2013

Committed to stewardship of Appalachia

For generations, Appalachia has been associated with the coal and timber industries, industries that have devastated the environment and produced an uncertain economy. Agriculture has often been merely a subsistence rather than a commercial enterprise. At Berea College, a new Sustainability and Environmental Studies program combines an interdisciplinary curriculum with experiential learning and internships to prepare students for their stewardship of a regional and global environment of finite and fragile resources. In addition, the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department has placed new emphasis on small farming and sustainable agriculture methods that reflect the realities of the Appalachian region. Recent building renovations on campus have incorporated environmental concerns with the use of geo-thermal heating/cooling systems, and future work is being addressed through a chair of ecological design, a field that explores the design of structures to reduce their impact on the environment. An ecological village for student families provides opportunities for living out lessons learned in the classroom. Berea’s commitment to plain living is made tangible through these new and innovative programs.

Committed to perpetuate its legacy

Because of its outstanding academic program, Berea College has continued its legacy to identify and respond to the urgent educational, social, and economic needs of the Appalachian region. Berea’s strategic plan, Being and Becoming, reaffirmed the College’s mission to educate students “to be service-oriented leaders for Appalachia and beyond.” In responding to the challenges posed by globalization, information technologies, the environment, and a rapidly changing society, Berea College seeks to strengthen existing programs and to launch new initiatives. As the College moves into the new century with several new programs, it will simultaneously exploit the potential of new information and new technologies to remove constraints on teaching and learning and to perpetuate a bold, distinctive mission in higher education. As former President Willis Weatherford said, “The historic ideals of Berea are our great heritage. Their future realization is our task.” Berea’s continuing commitments to excellence in learning, to meaningful work, to an ethic of service to the Appalachian region and beyond, and to moral leadership strategically place the College to prepare students for the external realities and opportunities of the information age and global economy-and form a covenant with “all peoples of the earth.”


The Great Commitments are Berea College’s formal proclamation of its purpose and mission. They define what this College is all about. First written in the 1960’s to capture the historic aims of the College, these statements serve to connect the inspiration of Berea’s early history with the ongoing plans and activities of the College today.

Berea College founded by ardent abolitionists and radical reformers, continues today as an educational institution still firmly rooted in its historic purpose “to promote the cause of Christ.”

Adherence to the College’s scriptural foundation, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” shapes the College’s culture and programs so that students and staff alike can work toward both personal goals and a vision of a world shaped by Christian values, such as power of love over hate, human dignity and equality and peace with justice. This environment frees persons to be active learners, workers and servers as members of the academic community and as citizens of the world.

The Berea experience nurtures intellectual, physical, aesthetic, emotional and spiritual potentials and with those the power to make meaningful commitments and translate them into action.

To achieve this purpose, Berea College commits itself:

  • To provide an educational opportunity primarily for students from Appalachia, black and white, who have great promise and limited economic resources.
  • To provide an education of high quality with a liberal arts foundation and outlook.
  • To stimulate understanding of the Christian faith and its many expressions and to emphasize the Christian ethic and the motive of service to others.
  • To provide for all students through the labor program experiences for learning and serving in community, and to demonstrate that labor, both mental and manual, has dignity as well as utility.
  • To assert the kinship of all people and to provide interracial education with a particular emphasis on understanding and equality among blacks and whites.
  • To create a democratic community dedicated to education and equality for women and men.
  • To maintain a residential campus and to encourage in all members of the community a way of life characterized by plain living, pride in labor well done, zest for learning, high personal standards, and concern for the welfare of others.
  • To serve the Appalachian region primarily through education, but also by other appropriate services.


The Workplace Expectations translate the mission of Berea College into seven guiding standards for the Berea College workplace. Inspired by the Being and Becoming strategic planning process, the Workplace Expectations define how Berea’s workforce should go about its business. By incorporating these expectations into their daily work, every Berea College worker brings the Great Commitments to life over campus and helps create a workplace today that connects with Berea’s proud historical legacy.

As a continuous learning environment built upon Berea’s Great Commitments and Common Learning Goals, Berea College expects all workers “to be active learners, workers and servers,” and seeks to be a place where the Christian values of human compassion, dignity, and equity are expressed and lived.

Therefore, workers are expected to:

  • Exhibit enthusiasm for learning
  • Act with integrity and caring
  • Value all people
  • Work as a team
  • Serve others
  • Encourage plain and sustainable living
  • Celebrate work well done

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