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Thu, 07.26.1855

Berea College is Founded

On this date in 1855, we celebrate the founding of Berea College, one of the oldest continually integrated colleges in America.

Located in Berea, KY, its spiritual foundation was, "God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth," which shaped its culture and programs.  Its founder John G. Fee, a passionate abolitionist, declared that Berea was founded "in the midst of many privations and persecutions to preach and apply a gospel of impartial love...." Guided by this inclusive Christian message, Berea's founders envisioned a college and a community committed to interracial education in the Appalachian region.

This heritage compelled Berea College to serve all persons regardless of race, creed, color, gender, or class.  It led the college to draw its students from two immediate communities:  Blacks freed after the American Civil War and "loyal" white mountaineers.  Guided by a self-help philosophy, Berea has long been committed to seeking out promising low-income people in the mountains of Central and Southern Appalachia and providing them with a tuition-free education. A significant distinction in the Berea mission is that rather than following the typical tuition-based model, the college early on developed a work program so that its students could take advantage of a private liberal arts education--a tuition-free education otherwise unaffordable to them.

In the 21st century, 80 percent of Berea's students come from Kentucky and the Appalachian region; the remainder comes from the rest of the United States and worldwide.  More than 12 percent of the college's students are African Americans in recent years.

In 2000, international students representing over 68 countries were seven percent of the student population. Such diversity reveals Berea's openness to everyone and prepares Berea students to live in a multicultural world. Supporting single parents in their academic and personal development also echoes Berea's history of rejecting divisions based on class and gender.



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