Dear Berea Friends and Alumni,
Greetings from the Office of the President!
I am pleased to present the 2014-2015 President’s Report and commend it to your review. The Report contains information about our strong financial position and data pertaining to our sources of fiscal support. The report also lists the names of the Berea College Board of Trustees and national alumni leaders, all of whom lend their time, passion and professional expertise to help guide this remarkable and transformative institution. In reading these pages, I am struck anew with grateful recognition of just how many people are responsible for supporting Berea College’s Eight Great Commitments. Berea truly thrives because of this generosity, and it is good to be mindful of this truth.
Recently, Board of Trustees chair Hal Moses and I attended a national conference during which the participants, all college presidents and Board chairs, were asked to identify significant opportunities and challenges facing higher education today. Many cited “affordability” as the major challenge faced by colleges and universities, while others mentioned declining levels of student preparation, the need to adapt to new learning and teaching styles, and the increased competition for top students. Berea’s unique mission to serve students of great promise but limited economic means and our commitment to do so on a tuition-free basis is certainly an answer to the affordability challenge and continues to bring students of very high potential to study at Berea. In my opinion at least, Berea’s model can be an example for the rest of the country. Meanwhile, the faculty continue to innovate to support teaching and learning, and our “bridge-in” initiatives are resulting in rapidly increasing student success.
It is critical that this inspiring experiment continue to succeed; however, there is no crystal ball to consult and no oracle to foretell what the future will hold. As Berea’s history of responsible financial planning has shown though, there are prudent measures that can help prepare for many possibilities. Thus, as an institution, we remain committed to protecting and growing our endowment so that we will be able to continue to provide tuition for future generations of Berea students. We thank you for your partnership in the effort to ensure that continued financial success.
At the same time, I am mindful of the fact that renewing and refreshing are essential to the health of any community. New programs such as the Fresh Start wellness initiative (featured in the Summer 2015 issue of the Berea College Magazine) allow us to address the needs of our students as do the improvements to our campus infrastructure. Renovations to the education building, Knapp Hall, and to our residence halls – the recently completed Dana Hall and current work on Bingham Hall – are all part of a plan to ensure we maintain a campus ready to provide “the best education money can’t buy” for leaders in the 21st century and beyond. A project that will be well underway before the next President’s Report is the construction of new facilities for the natural science programs and nursing. These enhancements are critically needed so that Berea College can continue to offer preparation for the key careers associated with these fields. Stay tuned for communications about this project and for ways you can help with it.
In conclusion, the Bereans on campus want me to convey to you, generous friends of Berea and Bereans in other places across the country and even around the world, just how grateful we are for your continued support and interest.
Truly you are a blessing to us!
Lyle D. Roelofs