President Cheryl Nixon’s inauguration was a weeklong celebration that showcased all things Berean. Students baked cakes and cookies, sang, drummed and danced around bonfires. Dr. Nixon has been listening and learning from the Berea community for a year. All the while, she emphasized the importance of joy. For inauguration week, all of Berea’s music ensembles came together in Union Church to express their joy and hope for Berea’s future.

The Mariachi band brought the eclectic rhythms of Mexican music to the Church’s halls. Sergio ’26 sang “Viva la Presidente,” his voice reverberating across the atrium as a salutation to Dr. Nixon. The Bluegrass and Folk Music ensembles performed “May the Circle be Unbroken” and “Banjo Picking Girl.” The Black Music Ensemble energized the audience with gospel music, making even the least rhythmic people dance.
“Berea’s music ensembles are our resident experts in joy,” Dr. Nixon said.

The inauguration ceremony the next day was solemn yet redolent with Dr. Nixon’s ideals for community building.

International students from 10 different countries marched in to open the ceremony waving their national flags. They were followed by a procession of faculty, staff and all student organizations; from the Newman Catholic Club to Girls Who Code. Berea College’s dynamism was on full display.

Dr. Cheryl Nixon placing her hat on her head after being robed as Berea's 10th president
Photo by Crystal Wylie ’05

Amid scores of national flags and scrolls embossed with Berea’s Great Commitments, Stephanie Zeigler, chair of the Board of Trustees, officially swore Nixon in as the 10th President of Berea College to a standing ovation.

“We have a heart that feels such a love for the world we live in, that it feels the pain of the world deeply,” President Nixon spoke. “But we also know that love must be built on the foundation of bravery, boldness and fierceness. At a moment when we see war break out and suffering increase, whether it be in Gaza, Ukraine or the Sudan, higher education needs to be helping repair a broken world. Berea has fought for equality, justice and democracy when it was under threat in 1855, and we will continue to do so today.”
President Nixon vows to be on the vanguard as Berea takes on modern challenges for higher education, from artificial intelligence to federal budget cuts. She begins her work by reaffirming the goodness of Berea and instilling joy in our sense of community.

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