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ERIC Number: EJ762804
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Sep-8
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1557-5411
All about the Mission
Hamilton, Kendra
Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, v22 n15 p22-25 Sep 2005
It's all about the mission at Berea College. Founded on a Utopian dream, Berea has been doing diversity longer than any school in the South. Berea College isn't a product of the civil rights movement. Not even close. The school pre-dates Reconstruction. In fact, at 150 years old, the first integrated, co-educational school in the South pre-dates the Civil War. Berea was founded on donated land at the edge of Kentucky's "bluegrass country" by a hardy band of radicals and reformers, led by John Gregg Fee. According to Berea president Dr. Larry D. Shinn, Fee was a minister expelled from the Presbyterian denomination for his refusal to allow slaveholders in his church. So strong was Fee's "extraordinary egalitarian sentiment," as Shinn calls it, and so powerful was his vision that the school he founded remains quite unlike any other--not just in the South, but in the nation. The school only accepts students who can't afford a college education. The average family income for a Berea student is $26,700. Berea students pay no tuition--despite the fact that tuition and other expenses add up to approximately $27,000 per year. Instead, the school is one of six "work colleges" in the United States. Students are expected to fulfill labor contracts and community service commitments. Shinn is honest in admitting that Berea has faced a struggle with retention. He has been at Berea since 1994, and it didn't take long for him to realize that there was a problem. "In 1996 only 65 percent of the class persisted to sophomore year," he says. "Only 47 percent graduated in a five-year time frame in 1996." In the nine succeeding years, with the completion of Berea's strategic planning process and the enrollment overhaul, there's been a dramatic turnaround. "Over the last four years, persistence rates have increased to between 80 and 85 percent every year," Shinn says. Graduation rates still lag, but they're up significantly, too--near 60 percent.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Kentucky; United States