The Richmond Register

Local News

April 6, 2013

Berea College inaugurates its ninth president Saturday

Community celebrates on Main Street

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.

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