Dear Berea Alumni and Friends,
I am pleased to present the 2016-17 President’s Report on Philanthropy and commend it for your review. This report details our strong financial position and conveys information pertaining to our sources of fiscal support.
Our financial position remains strong thanks to sound management of our endowment and the continued support of friends, alumni, and even current students through various giving programs. My heart is gladdened by the breadth and depth of the generosity of all the people who believe—along with us—that “God has made of one blood all peoples of the Earth” (Acts 17:26). That generosity is crucial to the success of our mission to educate bright students of limited financial means throughout Appalachia and beyond.
In these uncertain times, as we face both renewed opposition to our inclusive philosophy and policy discussions at the federal level that affect us directly, your strong support means even more. It is thanks to your selflessness and that of thousands of other generous folks that we are able to continue our mission.
This issue summarizes literally thousands of stories of the people who make up our network of support. For most, only their name appears on our annual Honor Roll, but that in itself tells a story. The story says, “here are the people who believe in the importance of a good education and the doors that education can open for students who otherwise would not have access to a better life.” The story says, “these people give of themselves time and again in pursuit of that idea.”
Time and space prevent us from telling more of these stories in this issue, but we are able to flesh out a few of the stories of why people give to Berea College. We hope you will enjoy and be inspired by them. That same limited space means that some of the listings that have appeared in the President’s Report in the past have been moved online. The full Honor Roll can be found here.
The Berea Fund, our annual fund, enjoyed a banner year. With a goal of $4,350,000, we reached a total of $4,490,000—a new record. Last year, nearly 10,000 people made a gift in support of that goal, and we are so very grateful.
Students stepped up in philanthropy as well. In fall 2016, the student-led Motley Fool Investment Club began management of a $100,000 stock portfolio with the goal of building it to $500,000. Once the target is reached, the fund will begin to contribute to the College just as the College endowment does.
Another Berea College emphasis is continuous improvement. We already graduate students of lesser financial means—many of them first-generation students—at a rate several times the national average. We know that we can do even better. In pursuit of that goal, we have launched initiatives to support first-year students, who are most at risk of dropping out, and we have augmented that with programming specifically tailored to the needs of the cohorts of students who are more at risk than others.
The past year was filled with great news. Berea College is truly an institution like no other. This year the Washington Monthly and The Princeton Review both named Berea as one of the best liberal arts colleges in the nation; Forbes, Money, Kiplinger’s and Washington Monthly all recognized Berea for affordability.
Berea College garnered national attention in other ways as well. U.S. Congressman and Civil Rights icon John Lewis delivered the commencement address in June. Last December, CBS broadcast our annual LISTEN! Christmas concert to a national audience on Christmas Eve.
Among all these successes, I am happy to report the construction of the Margaret A. Cargill Natural Sciences and Health Building continues to be on schedule. Over the past fiscal year, we have held a “topping out” ceremony, where we commemorated the placement of the last beam on the top of the structure. We also celebrated the placing of the cupola, a small dome that will grace the campus skyline. Move-in will commence on schedule this summer, and the building will be open for business at the start of the fall 2018 semester. We hope you will be able to come and see it for yourself!
In all of these endeavors, we thank you for your steadfast support. Truly, we are so blessed by the generosity of Bereans the world over.
Lyle D. Roelofs