Berea College Featured on "PBS NewsHour"

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Nov. 8—While the election news was coming in hot and heavy throughout the state as well as locally on Tuesday night, a Madison County college was featured on national television.

On the November 7 episode of PBS's NewsHour, Berea College was featured for their student labor program as a part of the NewsHour mini-series "Rethinking College."

"It's the work, it's the learning and it's the service and it's when you combine those things together that we get the unique program that we have at Berea," Dean of Student Labor Collis Robinson said to PBS.

The program gives every student a small salary which will usually be put towards student's room and board. The dorms are nothing fancy either, one look on their website at the dorms, and it's exactly what you'd expect for a small town college situated in Knobs Region of the state.

What they may lack in extravagant dorms is made up for in other benefits the college can offer. A perfect example is a free laptop to every incoming student and for a small initial fee, medical and dental care on campus.

There's one more that tops the list: Free tuition.

"I think that more innovative, creative thinking is what higher (education) needs right now," said Cheryl Nixon, the president of Berea College on the NewsHour program. Nixon thinks because of the unique founding vision of the college, founded in 1855 by John Gregg Fee, the college has been able to not only take in students who typically can't afford college but now fund it for them.

Since the year 1892, Berea College's path they knew, No tuition to pay, a promise they'd pursue. It's a promise they continue to pursue, 130 years on. Nixon points to a history she calls "courageous and brave." The history of Berea College dating back to Pre-Civil War America when Kentucky was still a slave-owning state. The college educated both male and female, black and white, together. The goal was to educate people from the region so people in Appalachia and with lower incomes can get more opportunities.

That changed in 1904 when their integration was outlawed and it remained that way even though their case was taken all the way to the Supreme Court until Brown vs. Board of Education allowed integration in schools once again.

The average income for the student body of Berea is $32,000/year. However, students at Berea are high achievers in the classroom with usually a 3.5 grade point average.

Because of one man's futuristic, courageous and brave founding vision, along with others that shared his vision, Berea College is what it is today.

You can watch the November 7 show in full by clicking here until December 7. If you just want to watch the feature, you can click here.