My name is Cheryl Nixon, and I am thrilled to join this unique institution as the 10th president of Berea College. The top-ranked college in Kentucky and one of the top-ranked liberal arts colleges in the country, we are a private, residential college that enrolls 1,500 undergraduate students. Berea is defined by its commitment to our fantastic students—we show how much we value our students by awarding free tuition to every single student. We open wide the doors of educational opportunity, and then welcome students into a caring, close-knit community that provides them with support as they reach for and achieve their dreams.
We are a one-of-a-kind college that connects the head, the heart, and the hand. Berea is a top-ranked college because we are recognized for our innovative teaching. Students learn in small classrooms, where professors know their names and provide hands-on learning experiences. Inspired by their professors and each other, students can’t help but ask new questions, discover new ideas, and create new solutions—thinking in new and exciting ways is Berea! Beyond the classroom, students are encouraged to take advantage of funded internships and funded study-abroad experiences. And students are encouraged to learn in unexpected ways by taking advantage of Berea’s forest, farm, craft program, music and dance ensembles, and over 60 student clubs and centers.
Berea College connects the passionate mind to the passionate heart—a heart inspired by the highest ideals of equality and opportunity. Berea was founded in 1855 as the first interracial and coeducational college in the South. I’m humbled by my connection to that history and take great pride in being the first woman to serve as president of this distinctive institution. In founding Berea College, the Reverend John G. Fee was guided by the principle of impartial love. Our motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” comes from Acts 17:26 of the Bible and emphasizes that people of all faiths, traditions and backgrounds, and those who do not practice a faith at all, are all welcome at Berea.
Fee’s embrace of impartial love led him to establish a school to educate the traditionally underserved in Appalachia. In doing so, he created an exceptional educational model where Blacks and whites, men and women learned together. With a steadfast commitment to educating students whose families can least afford to pay for college, the tuition-free policy that began in 1892 continues to make a Berea education possible for students today. It’s part of our inspirational mission, articulated by the Eight Great Commitments, that guides the work that we do.
Berea College joins the head and the heart to the hands—we move ideas and ideals into action. As one of a handful of federally recognized work colleges, Berea guarantees that every student will have a four-year, fully paid job on campus. Working at least 10 hours per week, students learn about time management, accountability and supervision, and gain the soft skills that employers seek. Students’ multi-layered educational experience pairs classroom learning with work assignments and allows for exploration beyond their major. This unique model distinguishes Berea College within higher education and positions our graduates to achieve personal and professional success.
And, Berea has so much more! Berea fields men’s and women’s teams in 16 sports. The Berea College Mountaineers—cheered on by Blue, the bear mascot—compete at the NCAA Division III level. We currently compete in the Collegiate College of the South and will compete with the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference starting in the 2024-25 academic year.
Berea College operates the Boone Tavern Hotel on campus. Our students help staff the historical hotel and restaurant, which has been welcoming visitors to the town of Berea since its opening in 1909. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Boone Tavern Hotel is also a member of the Historic Hotels of America and a LEED Gold-certified green hotel.
Berea College is nestled up against the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, but the excitement of the city is close by. Located in central Kentucky, Berea is about 45 minutes south of Lexington and within a two-hour drive of Louisville, Ky; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Knoxville, Tenn.
I invite you to explore our campus and learn more about all Berea College has to offer—like me, you will be inspired by Berea’s caring and committed head, hands, and heart.