While most institutions strive to explain their missions in a short “elevator pitch” or one clear statement, our mission is too expansive for us to be able to that. Instead, we have our eight Great Commitments, and now an entire website devoted to exploring them in depth.
In development for more than a year, the new site offers visitors the chance to learn what the commitments mean, how they’ve evolved over time, what we’re doing now to live them out, and what we plan to do in the future in relation to them. Anyone wanting to learn about Berea College’s singular mission and be inspired can now do so by visiting a single site.
The Great Commitments originated in the 1960s, when the College outlined the essence of its mission in (at that time) six statements. (Later updates included some fissioning, so the six have become eight.) These statements gave voice to the important cultural and moral values of our institution: educational opportunity for those who can’t afford to go to college; the liberal arts; inclusive Christianity; the chance to work at campus jobs to pay for related expenses and gain job experience; interracial education and gender equality; wellness, mindful and residential living, and sustainability; and, finally, service to Appalachia.
Over the decades we have treated the Commitments as a living document, updating the language to both reflect modern realities and maintain their spirit and intent. Formal updates have been undertaken several times over the last few decades, most recently earlier this year. As in previous rewordings, updating the language was a years-long and campus-wide effort, including as well, approval by the Board of Trustees.
You can read an updated PDF of the Commitments here, but for a more immersive experience, please visit our new site, and feel free to offer your feedback for how to make it better—or just tell us what you like!