Greetings from Berea Beloved,
We are pleased to present alumni and friends with a collection of stories chock-full of the impact generous philanthropy has made possible. I’m so glad to see this collection come to fruition, and I hope you find it as inspiring as I do.
Philanthropy involves purpose and, hence, meaning. One common impulse most Berea donors share is to make a great education possible for students of high promise and low means. Such purpose, meaning, impact and especially generosity are significant reasons why we say Berea is Like No Other, as President Lyle Roelofs suggests.
Purpose and meaning, however, can also be more varied among those who are so generous. A person might give, for example, because three generations ago Berea admitted an ancestor, and that educational opportunity changed a family’s trajectory forever. Perhaps an alumna or alumnus wishes to “pay forward” an education because countless earlier philanthropists gave generously. Or a foundation might give to facilitate the kind of affordability and access for which Berea has been known since 1855. Maybe some give because the vision of Rev. John G. Fee, Matilda Hamilton Fee and early Bereans is every bit as relevant today as it was on the eve of the American Civil War. How many enduring ideas can you think of that are so persistently relevant?
The generosity of Berea alumni and friends is manifest in myriad ways, and the many examples not only convey impact, they also convey, we trust, fulfillment and meaning for those who give.
Take, for example, the donor who makes it possible for choral students to travel abroad and perform for eager audiences. Or the organization that makes grants so students can have the beginnings of a professional wardrobe, travel to visit graduate schools and even provide every graduate with $500 so that they can make a security deposit on an apartment where they will attend graduate school or begin a new job. Or the donors who give specifically to ensure students from the poorest counties of Appalachia can be transformed by the promise of a Berea education. What other college can boast a donor who has made it possible for its students to have access—often for the first time in their lives—to quality and free dental care in perpetuity? What about donors who have established a pipeline for those interested in scientific research or medical school to have access to Vanderbilt? Or the donor who took notice of our international students during the pandemic and provided needed support so they could continue their educations during a frightening and disruptive time. These and so many other examples also make us confident to see Berea as Like No Other.
We’ve included stories of impact not just limited to current students, but also several alumni who have transcended limited possibility before Berea and have now limitless opportunity.
Every Berea student and every Berea alumnus has a story. It is these stories, in the words of the late poet Muriel Rukeyser, that make up the universe. Unless someone wants to listen to such stories, however, these stories won’t have a full life. That is one reason for this Impact Report, because as Joan Didion has written, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”
Vice President for Alumni, Communications and Philanthropy