BEREA, Ky. — Berea College President Lyle Roelofs has announced his decision to retire, effective June 30, 2023. Roelofs arrived in Berea with his wife, Laurie, in 2012 to serve as the institution’s ninth president. From the very beginning, the Board of Trustees has been consistently impressed and pleased with their adoption of all things Berea and their broad success. The Berea College community is thankful to have worked side by side with Lyle and Laurie for what will be 11 years.
“It has been an honor and so very satisfying to have served Berea College as its ninth president,” President Roelofs said. “Everything about this school, from its transformative mission to the wonderful students, staff, faculty, alumni, and friends, have made this such a privilege for Laurie and me.”
“The Board of Trustees and I are truly grateful for Lyle and First Lady Laurie Roelofs’ tremendous service to Berea College, and we are thankful for their longevity of service,” said Board Chair Stephanie Zeigler. “Their timing was remarkably fortuitous, and given their steady and thoughtful leadership throughout the unimaginable challenges brought on by COVID-19, Berea College is in a place of strength. Lyle’s early announcement regarding his retirement allows us ample time and a competitive edge for our search.”
Throughout his tenure, Roelofs has stayed true to the remarkable and unique mission of Berea College, leading in significant ways that have transformed the campus and elevated the college’s national profile.
In September of this year, Berea College became the first higher education institution in the nation to complete construction of a hydroelectric generating plant, a demonstration project that reduces the school’s carbon footprint by producing annually about half of the electricity usage of the College. The revenue generated by the $11 million project is funneled into Berea College’s general fund, ultimately helping to fund student Tuition Promise Scholarships.
In 2014, Berea College embarked on a community-wide investigation of the College’s eight Great Commitments, a project Roelofs says has ensured that the Commitments will continue to serve the College as a guide in the future.
President and Mrs. Roelofs have had a significant personal impact on Bereans—both on and off-campus. Early in their tenure, they invited all students to run or walk with them Tuesday and Thursday mornings as part of the President’s Run/Walk Club. First-year Berea students are even offered new running shoes to participate in at least 10 runs/walks per semester.
Community collaboration has also been important to Roelofs throughout his tenure. He has worked on several projects in conjunction with Berea and Madison County governments, including the installation of a new walking trail at Brushy Fork Park—Boone Trace Trail—that marks the path taken by Daniel Boone as he traveled through Kentucky in 1775.
In preparation for a search for the 10th Berea College president, the Board of Trustees has hired Academic Search—a leading search firm and the one that brought Roelofs to Berea—to facilitate the process. The Board of Trustees has also appointed a search committee that includes trustees, faculty members, staff, and students.
Throughout the winter and spring of 2022, Academic Search and the search committee will begin seeking input from the entire Berea community—trustees, faculty, staff, alumni, students, friends, and more—on what characteristics and skills the College is seeking in Berea’s next president. A new president will begin on July 1, 2023.
“The Board of Trustees is deeply grateful for the excellent leadership and care that Lyle and Laurie embody,” Zeigler said. “I look forward to the next two years of continued good work as we ensure the future of our mission in service to our students.”
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