The Richmond Register

April 6, 2013

Berea College inaugurates its ninth president Saturday

Community celebrates on Main Street

By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer

BEREA — Dr. Lyle Roelofs could remember the moment he wanted to come to Berea College, he said during his presidential inauguration ceremony Saturday in the Seabury Center.

Before he was chosen as the college’s ninth president to succeed Dr. Larry Shinn, Roelofs took a campus tour.

He remembered visiting Presser Hall and saw a student pushing a cleaning cart out of a bathroom.

“I wouldn’t say he looked happy that he just cleaned a bathroom or that there weren’t other things he would have liked to be doing with his time,” Roelofs joked. But, the student “exemplified that unity of labor and virtue in our fourth commitment,” he said.

Berea’s fourth Great Commitment is to provide “experiences for learning and serving in community, and to demonstrate that labor, mental and manual, has dignity as well as utility.”

Although he has yet to discover the identity of that student, he was someone who contributed to his “understanding of Berea,” Roelofs said. “And if I had to identify the moment when I first knew I wanted to come to Berea ― that was it.”

Roelofs assumed his presidency July 2012, but was officially installed in Saturday’s ceremony, which was the culmination of a weeklong inaugural celebration.

The ceremony drew a large crowd of Berea College faculty, staff, students, alumni, retirees and delegates from dozens of colleges and universities across the country.

Several Bereans were given parts in the ceremony to charge Roelofs with fulfilling the college’s Great Commitments, including best-selling novelist Silas House; well-known feminist and distinguished professor in residence Dr. bell hooks; and former Berea College president Larry Shinn.

A celebration following the two-hour ceremony provided free food from the restaurants on the College Square. A temporary dance floor was set up in front of Boone Tavern on which several groups performed for guests. The event also featured inflatables and games.

Berea alum designs sand sculpture to represent college’s Great Commitments

Drivers might do a double-take as they turn off of Chestnut Street and onto Prospect.

A large sand sculpture made of 21.5 tons of sand sits near the street across from the town Christmas tree.

Damon Farmer, a 1975 Berea College graduate, was asked to design a sculpture that reflected the college’s Great Commitments.

Each puzzle piece symbolizes one of the commitments, and they all unite to represent Berea College, he said.

Although “sand sculpting” was definitely not one of the student crafts at Berea College, he joked, he has been sculpting sand since he was a student there.

Farmer spent Monday through Friday packing the wet sand, sculpting and slathering the surface with a little Elmer’s glue to create a crust, he said.

The glue protects the sculpture from wind erosion, but the sand “is more durable than people think,” he added.

Farmer grew up in Berea, but now lives in Woodford County. Many may recognize his work from Berea’s Fourth of July celebrations and Berea College’s sesquicentennial celebration.

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Crystal Wylie can be reached at or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.