Berea College Graduation

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.

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).

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.

First articulated in 1962, the Great Commitments represent the historic aims and purposes of Berea College since its founding in 1855. The Great Commitments were originally adopted by the General Faculty and the Board of Trustees in 1969; they were revised and similarly approved in 1993 and most recently in 2017.

President Lyle D. Roelofs

Thanks for your interest in the mission of Berea College. We are in so many ways an institution unlike any other: a residential liberal arts college that does not charge tuition; a college that hires every student it admits; the first interracial and co-educational college in the South; and a college that firmly and intentionally embeds itself in the region of Appalachia even while drawing students from all over the country and around the world.

As such, our identity is more singular, and our mission is more complex than most schools. The only way to really capture them is through what we call our Great Commitments. These are encapsulated in a statement first formulated in the 1960s and occasionally rearticulated since then. As a moving account of the essence of Berea College, I recommend the Great Commitments for your consideration and further interest.

Lyle D. Roelofs, President

educational_opportunity
picture of Liberal Arts
logo of christian_values
The Dignity of Labor
The Kinship of All People
gender_equality
Supportive Sustainable Living
Serving Appalachia

Educational Opportunity

Berea College commits itself

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

Explore this Commitment

Graduation hat

“Access without support is not opportunity.”

– Vincent Tinto

No Tuition. No Kidding.

The average annual cost of going to a private, four-year college in the United States is over $45,000 (Trends in College Pricing 2016, 2016). The average tuition and fees alone—over $33,000—exceed the total annual income of many economically disadvantaged families, especially in Appalachia (Socioeconomic Overview of Appalachia, 2010).

Read More >
no
science
Past and Present >
the
Julie Jent >
Image
Moving Forward >
Image
Shanita Jackson >

You Can be a Part of Berea’s Mission

There are many ways to support the mission of Berea College, either financially or through participation in one of our many programs.

sign of email
The berea fund

Berea College offers access to a top-tier liberal arts education to those who cannot afford it. Our unique financial model means that no student ever pays tuition. Berea College has continued its unwavering commitment to equality and social justice throughout its existence. Your gift to the Berea Fund supports Berea’s mission in its entirety.

special_initiatives

The Way Out Fund
Your gift provides students with the financial support they need to accept internship opportunities without the fear of accumulating debt. You can make these hands-on experiences affordable for students by covering costs such as travel, room and board, and professional business attire.

planned giving

Much of Berea College’s operating expense is covered by our endowment, which is supported by friends who make a gift through their estates or set up charitable annuities. Visit our Planned Giving page to learn more.

helping through internships

Give the gift of real-world experience through our internship program. If your company or organization could benefit from well-rounded, critically thinking students with a solid work ethic, contact Esther Livingston (859-985-3065). Or, support funding for our summer internships through the Way Out Fund.

The Liberal Arts

Berea College commits itself

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

Explore this Commitment

sign University

“And what is reason? and what is love?

and what is life?”

– Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”

How would Walt Whitman think about science?

The span of the liberal arts is extensive, including literature, philosophy, and social sciences in addition to mathematics and physical sciences and everything in between.

The liberal arts allows an avenue by which we can better understand the world we live in by delving into the central concerns of humanity.

Read More >
Image
Image
Past and Present >
Image
Gyude Moore >
Image
Moving Forward >
Image
Joe Bagnoli, Jr. >

You Can be a Part of Berea’s Mission

There are many ways to support the mission of Berea College, either financially or through participation in one of our many programs.

sign of email
The berea fund

Study of the liberal arts pushes students to answer not just what something is, but why it is. In doing so, they develop the critical thinking necessary to address the toughest questions. Your gift to the Berea Fund supports our ability to educate students in the great liberal arts tradition, funding everything from poetry to physics.

special_initiatives

Department of Theatre
Your gift can give students the materials and equipment they need to learn about theatre or allow them to travel to professional conferences.

Computer Science Alumni Advisory Fund
Your gift will allow students and faculty to participate in supplemental research opportunities, travel to conferences or interviews, and gain access to special software and hardware.

planned giving

Much of Berea College’s operating expense is covered by our endowment, which is supported by friends who make a gift through their estates or set up charitable annuities. Visit our Planned Giving page to learn more.

helping through internships

Give the gift of real-world experience through our internship program. If your company or organization could benefit from well-rounded, critically thinking students with a solid work ethic, contact Esther Livingston (859-985-3065). Or, support funding for our summer internships through the Way Out Fund.

Christian Values

Berea College commits itself

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

Explore this Commitment

picture of Cross

What does it mean to promote the cause of Christ?

Because of, Not in Spite of

The education we provide is not engineered to indoctrinate students into a particular viewpoint on Christianity. The education we provide is just one of many expressions of impartial love, made available to people of any faith or no faith at all.

Read More >
Image
Image
Past and Present >
Image
David Kretzmann >
Image
Moving Forward >
Image
Mam-Yassin Sarr >

You Can be a Part of Berea’s Mission

There are many ways to support the mission of Berea College, either financially or through participation in one of our many programs.

sign of email
The berea fund

Gifts to the Berea Fund support the College’s work in carrying out Rev. John G. Fee’s “gospel of impartial love.” These efforts are led by the Campus Christian Center (CCC), which provides lectures and other learning opportunities for spiritual growth for all students.

matching gifts

Many employers match employees’ charitable giving. To find out if your employer participates, visit our Matching Gifts page.

planned giving

Much of Berea College’s operating expense is covered by our endowment, which is supported by friends who make a gift through their estates or set up charitable annuities. Visit our Planned Giving page to learn more.

send a supportive message

Send a supportive message of encouragement or prayer, or get involved in campus spiritual life by contacting the Willis D. Weatherford, Jr. Campus Christian Center.

The Dignity of Labor

Berea College commits itself

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.

Explore this Commitment

picture of blue Gear

“At Berea, we don’t just admit students—we hire them.”

Choosing Between Work and School

A common myth is that high school graduates have two choices: work or go to college. Berea College does not believe in that separation and hasn’t since its founding in 1855.

Read More >
Image
Past
Past and Present >
Image
Esther Omolola >
Image
Moving Forward >
Image
Emmanuel Tachu >

You Can be a Part of Berea’s Mission

There are many ways to support the mission of Berea College, either financially or through participation in one of our many programs.

sign of email
The berea fund

Educating and developing the whole individual and preparing that individual for success in adulthood means our students put their minds and bodies to work through a labor program in which all students are required to work 10 hours per week. Giving to the Berea Fund helps keep Berea’s commitment to labor going strong and provides students with the experience they need to join the workforce.

matching gifts

Many employers match employees’ charitable giving. To find out if your employer participates, visit our Matching Gifts page.

planned giving

Much of Berea College’s operating expense is covered by our endowment, which is supported by friends who make a gift through their estates or set up charitable annuities. Visit our Planned Giving page to learn more.

helping through internships

Give the gift of real-world experience through our internship program. If your company or organization could benefit from well-rounded, critically thinking students with a solid work ethic, contact Esther Livingston (859-985-3065). Or, support funding for our summer internships through the Way Out Fund.

The Kinship of All People

Berea College commits itself

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.

Explore this Commitment

Portrait

Neither an originally white college that now welcomes students of color, nor an historically black college, Berea College was interracial from its founding…until 1904…

“God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth.” – Acts 17:26

The “gospel of impartial love” moved Berea College’s founders to set up a school open to everyone in need of education regardless of color, gender, or “caste” in the 1850s.

Read More >
Image
Image
Past and Present >
Image
Jackie Malone >
Image
Moving Forward >
Image
Alex Gibson >

You Can be a Part of Berea’s Mission

There are many ways to support the mission of Berea College, either financially or through participation in one of our many programs.

sign of email
The berea fund

Our campus is one of the most diverse in the country, with nearly 40% of students identifying as persons of color. As we move further into the 21st century and dynamics of our service region change, our founders’ belief in “common dignity” implants deeper and deeper into the heart of all we do at Berea. Your gift to the Berea Fund helps make all this possible.

special_initiatives

African American Opportunity Fund
Your gift supports the recruitment and retention of African American students through programs designed to help students succeed both academically and socially.

Office of Diversity and Inclusion
Your gift will support programs and resources that promote an inclusive and diverse campus community committed to shaping leaders from Appalachia and beyond.

planned giving

Much of Berea College’s operating expense is covered by our endowment, which is supported by friends who make a gift through their estates or set up charitable annuities. Visit our Planned Giving page to learn more.

reachOut sign

One way to support Berea’s mission of interracial education is reach out to the Black Cultural Center to find out how you can get involved.

Gender Equality

Berea College commits itself

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

Explore this Commitment

picture of Chat-Bubbles

Fighting “Rowdyism” since 1869…

We Speak Love, Whoever You Are

The meaning of “gender equality” has changed over time, but Berea College is on the forefront of the current meaning.

Read More >
Image
Image
Past and Present >
Image
Osvaldo Flores >
Image
Moving Forward >
Image
Cara Stewart >

You Can be a Part of Berea’s Mission

There are many ways to support the mission of Berea College, either financially or through participation in one of our many programs.

sign of email
The berea fund

Berea College makes every effort to ensure a democratic and safe campus environment, whether it involves students, staff, or faculty. Your Berea Fund gift supports such programs as Women’s & Gender Studies, as well as the Ecovillage and Child Development Laboratory.

matching gifts

Many employers match employees’ charitable giving. To find out if your employer participates, visit our Matching Gifts page.

planned giving

Much of Berea College’s operating expense is covered by our endowment, which is supported by friends who make a gift through their estates or set up charitable annuities. Visit our Planned Giving page to learn more.

join the Conversation sign

A great way to join the conversation about social justice and gender is by visiting the bell hooks institute or attending Women and Gender Studies Department’s Peanut Butter and Gender luncheon series.

Supportive & Sustainable Living

Berea College commits itself

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.

Explore this Commitment

Leaves

“…we desire, in these schools, not merely to discipline their minds, not merely to make them acquainted with science; but also to discipline or educate their hearts, to develop their consciences, and send them forth with their minds impressed with the right principles.”

– Rev. John G. Fee

How should we then live?

At Berea College, we live and learn, simultaneously, together, inside and outside the classroom.

Read More >
Image
Image
Past and Present >
Image
George Lester >
Image
Moving Forward >
Image
Dallas Leake >

You Can be a Part of Berea’s Mission

There are many ways to support the mission of Berea College, either financially or through participation in one of our many programs.

sign of email
The berea fund

Your gift to the Berea Fund supports our residential campus, where nearly all students live in residence halls and have access to programming to help them with everything from homework to health. The Berea Fund also supports an emphasis on sustainability and plain living—commitments lived out across campus as we work to reduce our ecological footprint and encourage others to do the same.

special_initiatives

Division III Athletics
Your gift will play an important role in maintaining a healthy residential community. Our ascent to the NCAA Division III in 2017-18 is challenging student-athletes to excel on the field and deepening the camaraderie and pride around Berea athletics.

planned giving

Much of Berea College’s operating expense is covered by our endowment, which is supported by friends who make a gift through their estates or set up charitable annuities. Visit our Planned Giving page to learn more.

Volunteer sign

Berea’s Office of Sustainability is always looking for volunteers passionate about the earth.

Serving Appalachia

Berea College commits itself

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

Explore this Commitment

Quilt

The Backyard of Nine States

Where the Mountains Meet the Bluegrass

Berea’s physical location has often been described as “where the mountains meet the Bluegrass,” but our heart has always been in the mountains.

Read More >
Image
no
Past and Present >
great-commitments
Jamie Oleka >
great
Moving Forward >
Image
David Cooke >

You Can be a Part of Berea’s Mission

There are many ways to support the mission of Berea College, either financially or through participation in one of our many programs.

sign of email
The berea fund

The Berea Fund supports this Commitment by helping provide several outreach programs supporting the Appalachian region. Berea’s Center for Excellence in Learning through Service (CELTS) houses all student-led service programs and community outreach offices. CELTS also leads the initiative to integrate services into Berea’s academic curriculum.

special_initiatives

Brushy Fork Institute
Your gift helps grow regional leadership and guide local development efforts.

Grow Appalachia
Your gift helps to address food insecurity and sustainability in the Appalachian region.

Country Dancers
Your gift will help pay for necessary costumes and travel and keep traditional dance alive.

planned giving

Much of Berea College’s operating expense is covered by our endowment, which is supported by friends who make a gift through their estates or set up charitable annuities. Visit our Planned Giving page to learn more.

get Involved sign

There are many ways you can team with us in service to Appalachia, through CELTS, the Brush Fork Institute, or the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center’s Entrepreneurship for the Public Good.