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Berea College
Official Logo of Berea College
Motto God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth.
Type Private Undergraduate liberal arts college
Endowment $872 million [2]
President Larry Shinn
Faculty 131
Undergraduates 1,514
Postgraduates 0
Location Berea, KY, USA
Campus Rural (140 acres)
Athletics Mountaineers
Colors Blue and White
Affiliations Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference

Berea College is a liberal arts work college in Berea, Kentucky (south of Lexington), founded in 1855. Current full-time enrollment is 1,514 students.[3] Berea College is distinctive among post-secondary institutions for providing low-cost education to students from low-income families and for having been the first college in the Southern United States to be coeducational and racially integrated.[4] Berea College charges no tuition; every admitted student is provided the equivalent of a four-year, full-tuition scholarship (currently worth $102,000; $25,500 per year).[5]

Berea offers undergraduate academic programs in 28 different fields.[6] Berea College has a full-participation work-study program where students are required to work at least 10 hours per week in campus and service jobs in over 130 departments. Berea's primary service region is Southern Appalachia, but students come from all states in the United States and more than 60 other countries. Approximately one in three students represents an ethnic minority.[7]



Founded in 1855 by the abolitionist John Gregg Fee (1816-1901), Berea College admitted both black and white students in a fully integrated curriculum, making it the first non-segregated, coeducational college in the South and one of a handful of institutions of higher learning to admit both male and female students in the mid-1800s. The College began as a one-room schoolhouse that also served as a church on Sundays. Although the school's first articles of incorporation were adopted in 1859, founder John Gregg Fee and the teachers were forced out of the area by pro-slavery supporters in that same year.

Fee spent the Civil War years raising funds for the school, trying to provide for his family in Cincinnati, and working at Camp Nelson. He returned afterward to continue his work at Berea. He spent nearly 18 months working mostly at Camp Nelson, where he helped provide facilities for the freedmen and their families, as well as teaching and preaching. He helped get funds for barracks, a hospital, school and church.

In 1866, Berea's first full year after the war, it had 187 students, of whom 96 were black and 91 whites. It began with preparatory classes to ready students for advanced study at the college level. In 1869, the first college students were admitted, and the first bachelor's degrees were awarded in 1873.

In 1904, the Kentucky state legislature's passage of the "Day Law" disrupted Berea's interracial education by prohibiting education of black and white students together. The college challenged the law in state court and further appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in Berea College v. Kentucky. When the challenge failed, the college had to become a segregated school, but it set aside funds to help establish the Lincoln Institute near Louisville to educate black students.[4] In 1950, when the law was amended to allow integration of schools at the college level, Berea promptly resumed its integrated policies.

Up until the 1960s, Berea provided pre-college education in addition to college level curriculum. In 1968, the elementary and secondary schools (Foundation School) were discontinued in favor of focusing on undergraduate college education.[8 ].

Academics and student life

Draper Building

For the past decade, Berea College has been consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the number one comprehensive college in the South, and it is currently ranked 68th among liberal arts colleges [9], making it a Tier one school. A high percentage of Berea graduates go on to graduate and professional schools, and the College is also active in international programs, with about half of Berea students studying abroad before graduation. The college provides significant funding to assist students in studying abroad.[10] Berea students are also eligible to win the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, which provides funding for a year of study abroad following graduation.[11] Like many private colleges, Berea does not enroll students based upon semester hours. Berea College uses a course credit system, which has the following equivalencies:

  • A .25 credit course is the equivalent of 1 semester hour.
  • A .50 credit course is the equivalent of 2 semester hours.
  • A .75 credit course is equivalent to 3 semester hours.
  • A 1.00 credit course is the equivalent to 4 semester hours.[12]

All students are required to attend the college on a full-time basis, which is 3.00 course credits of enrollment, or 12 semester hours. Students must be enrolled in at least 4.00 course credits to be considered for the Dean's list. Enrollment in 4.75 or more course credits requires the approval of the Academic Adviser, and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. Part-time enrollment is not permitted except during Summer term. A cumulative GPA of 2.5 is required in all majors in order to graduate with a Bachelor's degree.

Scholarships and work program

Berea College provides all students with full-tuition scholarships (valued at $25,500 per year), and many receive support for room and board as well. Admission to the College is granted only to students who need financial assistance (as determined by the FAFSA); in general, applications are accepted only from those whose family income falls within the bottom 40% of U.S. households. About 75% of the college's incoming class is drawn from the Appalachian region of the South and some adjoining areas, and about 8% are international students. Generally, no more than one student is admitted from a given country in a single year (with the exception of countries in distress such as Liberia). This policy ensures that 70 or more nationalities are usually represented in the student body of Berea College. All international students are admitted on full scholarships with the same regard for financial need as U.S. students.[13]

In order to support its extensive scholarship program, Berea College has one of the largest financial reserves of any American college when measured on a per-student basis. The endowment stands at $872 million, down from its 2007 height of $1.1 billion.[2] The base of Berea College's finances is dependent on substantial contributions from individuals, foundations, corporations that support the mission of the college and donations from alumni. A solid investment strategy increased the endowment from $150 million in 1985 to its current amount.[14]

As a work college, Berea has a student work program in which all students work 10 or more hours per week on campus. Berea is one of eight colleges in the United States and one of only two in Kentucky (Alice Lloyd College being the other) to have mandatory work study programs. Employment opportunities range from busing tables at the Boone Tavern Hotel, a historic business owned by the college, to managing the hanging and focusing of lights for the productions at the Theatre Lab. Other job duties include janitorial labor, building management, resident assistance, teaching assistance, food service, gardening and groundskeeping, information technology, woodworking, weaving, and secretarial work. Some of the work-study has helped to extend and support practice of traditional crafts from the Appalachian region, such as weaving. Berea College has helped make the town a center for quality arts and crafts.[15]

Students are currently paid an hourly wage at or above $3.80 per hour by the college. The college regularly increases student pay on a yearly basis, but it has never been equivalent to the federal minimum wage in the school's history. Students are not allowed to work off campus. Students are also not allowed to have cars on campus without a special permit, and student permits for cars are rarely granted to first- or second-year students. The college generally uses a shuttle bus system to provide students with supplemental transport.

Campus life

Technology is an important part of life at Berea College. To help students bridge the "digital divide," in 2000 Berea launched its laptop initiative as the top objective of its Sesquicentennial fundraising campaign. Since 2002, all students at Berea receive laptops that they take with them when they graduate. Students are not required to pay for the computers, though they do provide a small fee to support the technological infrastructure. There are about 5,800 data ports on campus, and the College is working to establish a campus-wide wireless network, with twenty-four on-campus wireless hotspots currently.

Berea's sports teams are called the "Mountaineers." They compete in the NAIA's Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Berea has not had a football team since 1904.

Christian identity

Berea was founded by progressive, non-sectarian Christians, It maintains a Christian identity separate from any particular denomination. The college's motto, "God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth", is taken from Acts 17:26. Many General Studies courses are focused on Christian faith, and every student is required to take an Understandings of Christianity course in his/her Sophomore or Junior year. In effort to be sensitive to the diverse preferences and experiences of student and faculty, these courses are taught with respect for the unique spiritual journey of each individual, regardless of religious identification.

Library collections

The Hutchins Library maintains an extensive collection of books, archives, and music pertaining to the history and culture of the Southern Appalachian region. The Southern Appalachian Archives contain organizational records, personal papers, oral histories, and photographs. Included are the papers of the Council of the Southern Mountains (1912-1989) and the Appalachian Volunteers (1963-1970).


Berea's Campus Environmental Policy Committee (CEPC) is developing a set of indicators by which to measure the progress of the college toward ecological sustainability, creates bi-annual reports on that progress, and links the school's efforts to green campus operations with its mission to raise consciousness of environmental issues among faculty, students, and staff.[16 ]

Berea addresses environmental sustainability from both an operational and an intellectual perspective; the school emphasizes an experiential education for its students, combining hands-on work with academic exploration.[17] Berea's Ecovillage is a living/learning community comprising 50 apartments. The community houses students and student families, and it includes a child development lab, an environmental studies demonstration house, wetlands, a permaculture food forest, individual gardens, and the "ecological machine," which is a wastewater treatment system that naturally treats sewage to reuse quality.[18]

Berea's sustainability initiatives earned it a "B" grade on the 2009 College Sustainability Report Card, published by the Sustainable Endowments Institute.[19] Berea's grade placed it in the top 23% of schools nationwide, surpassed by only three schools in the Southeast.[20][21]

Presidents of Berea College

[8 ]

Presidents of Berea College Years as President
1 Edward Henry Fairchild (1869–89)
2 William B. Stewart (1890–92)
3 William Goodell Frost (1892–1920)
4 William J. Hutchins (1920–39)
5 Francis S. Hutchins (1939–67)
6 Willis D. Weatherford (1967–84)
7 John B. Stephenson (1984–94)
8 Larry Shinn (1994–Present)

Notable alumni


  1. ^ "Berea College: Our Motto".  
  2. ^ a b Alessi, Ryan (2009-11-15). "Berea College undertakes self-examination to find ways to cut expenses". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved 2009-11-15.  
  3. ^ "Berea College Enrollment: Quick Facts".  
  4. ^ a b About Berea, Berea College website
  5. ^ "Berea College website Admissions Page".  
  6. ^ "About Berea College".  
  7. ^ "Berea College website".  
  8. ^ a b "History: About Berea College".  
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Center for International Education: Berea College".  
  11. ^ "Thomas J. Watson Fellowship: CIE-Berea College".  
  12. ^ "Academic Services Advisor Guide: Berea College".  
  13. ^ "Admission Requirements: Prospective Students".  
  14. ^ Brull, Steven. (September 2005). "Appalachian spring". Institutional Investor, p. 35.
  15. ^ "About Our Labor Program- Berea College".  
  16. ^ "Sustainability Initiatives: -SENS, Berea College". Berea College. Retrieved 2009-07-09.  
  17. ^ "Ecological Design". Berea College. Retrieved 2009-07-09.  
  18. ^ "Ecovillage". Berea College. Retrieved 2009-07-09.  
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^,-81.518555&spn=16.347063,28.300781&t=p&z=5
  22. ^ John B. Fenn - Autobiography
  23. ^ Sam Hurst- Berea College Physics Alumni
  24. ^ Jeffrey Reddick Bio
  25. ^ Moyers, Bill. (2009-03-27). Bill Moyers Journal: "James Thindwa". [Television Production]. New York, NY: Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 2009-07-14.  
  26. ^ "Nontombi Naomi Tutu". Kent State University. Retrieved 2008-07-21.  


  • Peck, Elizabeth. Berea's First Century, 1855-1955. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1955.
  • Wilson, Shannon H. Berea College: An Illustrated History. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2006. ISBN 0813123790

External links

Coordinates: 37°34′21″N 84°17′31″W / 37.57244°N 84.29188°W / 37.57244; -84.29188

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