The Great Commitments

Berea College

The Great Commitments

Explore The Commitments

The eight Great Commitments of Berea College are more than a mission statement. Together, they make up the moral framework that informs every action we take toward serving our students, our community, and the world beyond. They are enduring; they do not change every few years. They are based on the ideals on which Berea College was founded.

God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth.

Acts 17:26

Each topic below explores the rich history of the Great Commitments, what we are doing now to live out those commitments, our plans for the future, and how you can help us reaffirm the eternal truth that “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth” (Acts 17:26).

At Berea College, our Great Commitments are our North Star, our inspirational principles. Through the Great Commitments, we know who we are and the ideals we serve—and this sense of greater purpose guides us every day.

Dr. Cheryl L. Nixon
Dr. Cheryl Nixon, Berea College President

These Great Commitments are what distinguish Berea from all other higher educational institutions. We commit to a high-quality, residential, liberal arts education, and we never charge our students tuition. We provide workplace experience by hiring every student Berea admits and paying them. Berea’s distinction as the South’s first interracial and co-educational institution, based on the inclusive Christian notion of impartial love, pushes us to continue to provide students with a model for a more just society. We also offer our community examples of how to live more sustainably in the future. And we continue to commit ourselves to serving communities, families, and students from Appalachia for a brighter future. All these Eight Great Commitments—together—constitute a mission like no other.


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 (Acts 17:26),” 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 the 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.

Berea’s Great Commitments represent the historic aims and purposes of this College. First articulated in 1962, they were adopted by our Board of Trustees in 1969 and most recently reaffirmed in 2017. These are the seminal principles that guide Berea.

The Great Commitments

Diverse group of students seated at a table with a female instructor smiling as they lean between the students.
Educational Opportunity

To provide an educational opportunity for students of all races, primarily from Appalachia, who have great promise and limited economic resources.

The Liberal Arts

To offer a high-quality liberal arts education that engages students as they pursue their personal, academic, and professional goals.

Stained glass window in Danforth Chapel, Berea College
Christian Values

To stimulate understanding of the Christian faith and its many expressions and to emphasize the Christian ethic and the motive of service to others.

Loren Weber '21 working at the Farm Store
The Dignity of Labor

To promote learning and serving in community through the student Labor Program, honoring the dignity and utility of all work, mental and manual, and taking pride in work well done.

The Kinship of All People
The Kinship of All People

To assert the kinship of all people and to provide interracial education with a particular emphasis on understanding and equality among blacks and whites as a foundation for building community among all peoples of the earth.

Gender Equality
Gender Equality

To create a democratic community dedicated to education and gender equality.

Supportive and Sustainable Living
Supportive & Sustainable Living

To maintain a residential campus and to encourage in all community members a way of life characterized by mindful and sustainable living, health and wellness, zest for learning, high personal standards, and a concern for the welfare of others.

Serving Appalachia
Serving Appalachia

To engage Appalachian communities, families, and students in partnership for mutual learning, growth, and service.