Office of the President

Standing Poised*

As the second decade of the new century begins, Berea College stands poised for continued progress and growth. Dr. Lyle D. Roelofs, Berea’s ninth President as of July 1, 2012, inherits a vibrant college with a proud legacy of purposeful innovation that has advanced a unique, nationally acclaimed mission of education and service.

Berea was named #1 liberal arts college in America in the 2011 Washington Monthly College Rankings because of the College’s success in living out its historic mission of providing low-income students an excellent education for lives of professional and community service. Demand for the Berea educational experience is greater than ever, and the College’s incoming class of 2011 had the greatest selectivity (13% of initiated applications were accepted), the highest academic qualifications (e.g., an average ACT of 25), and the greatest levels of financial need (e.g., an average family income of $25,200 per year) of any class in more than a decade. To meet this rising demand, and as an outgrowth of the recent scenario planning process, Berea has already expanded its enrollment from 1,530 to 1,600 students and is currently exploring further enrollment expansion to accommodate still more academically promising, low-income students in the years ahead. Present and future students will be well served in the College’s academic environment organized around the concept of engaged and transformative learning.

Other components of the Berea mission also stand poised for new successes. Similar to the comprehensive mission-oriented functions of the Appalachian Center and the Campus Christian Center, a new Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education has been established to assume oversight of all elements of Berea’s interracial focus. Likewise, a new Center for Transformative Learning will be housed in renovated library space and will promote high-impact learning practices, including undergraduate research, internships, and career preparation. Berea’s outreach into Appalachia also continues to grow. Beginning in the 2011-12 academic year and totaling more than $76 million, two new GEAR UP grants will help the College extend its Appalachian commitment and serve more than 13,500 K-12 children in 17 mountain counties in Kentucky.

In the realm of sustainability, the second Subcommittee on Sustainability finalized a new sustainability plan in 2011, one which commits the College to greatly reduce all use of natural resources and pursue carbon neutrality, while deepening the integration of sustainability into the total learning environment. With substantial external support, Berea broke ground in the spring of 2012 on a new 120-student residential facility, which will exceed LEED Platinum standards and become the College’s highest achievement in ecological building design thus far.

… If both distant and recent past are any indication, Berea’s historic mission will point the way through the College’s next phases of being and becoming. Current and future Bereans will reflect, discuss, and act with great care and great conviction to advance the time-honored mission they have inherited, and the Berea of the 21st century will remain a regional and national treasure. Through its purposeful innovations—its being and becoming—Berea College will continue as a beacon of education and service in Appalachia and the world beyond.


* excerpted from Crossing the Centuries’ Divide at Berea College. For a copy of this retrospective brochure, email and put “Centuries’ Divide” in the subject line. Include your postal mailing address.

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