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BC Begins 1,855 Mile Relay

March 31 - Berea College will begin the “Great Commitments Relay” – a 1,855 mile goodwill tour through southern Appalachia - as part of the College’s 150th anniversary celebration this year.

Scheduled stops will include the governor’s offices in three states, the birthplace of Berea founder John G. Fee in Bracken county, the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, and many more sites. The Relay Kick-Off will begin at 9 am in front of the Alumni Building on Berea’s campus with a brief ceremony.

For six weeks, Berea students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends will be walking, riding, rolling and running, transporting a commemorative copy of “The Great Commitments” - a summary of Berea College’s historic ideals and the mission statement that continues as its guide. Through big cities and small communities in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama, the route will wind through states in the region the college has been committed to serving since its founding. The length of the relay corresponds to the year of Berea’s founding, 1855.

A number of special events are planned as well. In some communities, “Berea College: An Illustrated History” recently published by the University Press of Kentucky, will be presented to local libraries or organizations. For the complete route, continuous updates and for more information, visit On May 12, the relay will end back in Berea, where a major celebration is planned.

Berea’s Great Commitments first found expression as a statement of the historic aims and purposes of the College by former dean Louis Smith in 1962 as part of a Ford Foundation grant. By action of Berea’s faculty and Board of Trustees, a revised version of the Great Commitments was formally adopted as its mission statement in 1969. In 1992, a preamble and an eighth commitment specifically addressing Berea’s commitment to co-education and gender equality was added.

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