Kentucky colleges aren’t just about producing good graduates. They also work at being good neighbors in their communities. The following pages offer just a few examples. Berea College and Alice Lloyd College play especially unique roles for people who live in eastern Kentucky. In another part of the state, Henderson Community College’s Fine Arts Center has become an attraction for the whole area.
Developing Leaders in the Mountains
by Brook Elliott
There are only six tuition-free colleges in the United States. Two of them are in Kentucky.
Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, and Berea College in Berea achieve their missions in slightly different ways. But they share a common mandate: To provide quality higher education to lower-income children of the Southern mountains, and to develop leaders in the surrounding communities.
An incredible percentage of students from both colleges go on to graduate school. In fact, Alice Lloyd’s Caney Scholars program requires that students return to the mountains to work.
Students at both schools are required to work in order to help pay for their educational expenses. At Berea College, for instance, they must put in a minimum of 10-15 hours each week on a campus job.
Alice Lloyd and Berea colleges focus on helping young people learn who they are as students, and what is expected of them when they take their places in society.
It’s been that way since the schools began.
Berea is the older of the schools, having been founded in 1855. The founders were committed to educating white and African-American students together. It was the first interracial college in the South.
It actually started when Cassius Clay provided Reverend John Fee with 10 acres of land if he’d live there. Fee, an abolitionist, had attracted Clay’s attention through his anti-slavery preaching.
Fee started a one-room school in 1855 that eventually became Berea College. He believed in a school that would advocate equality and excellence in education for men and women of all races.
Berea has received regular praise through the years. In 1998 U.S. News & World Report named Berea the number-one regional college in the South.
Alice Lloyd College is named for its founder. Alice Lloyd was a society woman from Boston who’d become a journalist after graduating from Radcliffe College. Spinal meningitis, however, had left its mark. When she was 40 her doctors told her she was dying, and advised that she seek a milder climate.
Coincidentally, a Presbyterian minister she knew offered her his abandoned mission shack in Knott County. Alice Lloyd came to die on Troublesome Creek in 1915. Instead, she spent the next 46 years changing the face of education in eastern Kentucky.
It started when Abisha Johnson asked her to teach his children. In return, he gave her a rugged patch of land on Caney Creek, where she started a community center that eventually became the school that bears her name.
Along with her partner, June Buchanan, she started several schools in Kentucky’s eastern hills. Alice Lloyd personally typed more than 60,000 appeal letters, raising more than $2.5 million.
In 1923, the two women started Caney Junior College, forerunner of the current four-year school. Students actually helped build it, sawing timber at the campus mill and doing construction work.
As writer C. Ray Hall put it, “Skeptics figured the place was some sort of Boot Hill, where these eastern women would bury their dreams. Instead, it became a sort of Bootstrap Hill, where self-help became a sacrament.”
Both Berea and Alice Lloyd continue as they started-turning out citizens with a commitment to the idea that through hard work and dedication, one can accomplish anything. And the place to accomplish it is back home.
Where College and Community Meet
by Gail King
The parking lots filled fast at Henderson Community College one evening last spring. A 4-H speech contest was going on in the Academic/ Technical Building; GED classes were starting in the Administration Building; a Lion’s Club charity auction was well under way in the Library Building; and at 8:00 the curtain would go up on a full Broadway-scale performance of Big in the Fine Arts Center.
“This is exactly what we are about,” said Pat Lake, president of the college, as he surveyed the bright lights of the buildings reflected in the campus lake and the chattering people entering the Fine Arts Center. “We are supposed to serve the community in a number of ways and that includes the use of our facilities.”
The Fine Arts Center, opened in 1994, has proved the perfect place for an ever-widening range of art and community activities: Broadway shows, simulation training by local factories, the Kentucky National Art and Wildlife Exhibit, body building championships, dance studio recitals, technology fairs, business expos, wedding receptions, choral festivals, and awards ceremonies.
Henderson Community College, established in 1960, has been a vital part of the community since its beginning. The college has earned a good reputation in the community for its nursing program, for business and industry training programs, and for award-winning basic education and GED programs. But the college’s highest community visibility and the greatest testimony to the cooperation between campus and community is the Fine Arts Center, site of last season’s performances of Big, Fiddler on the Roof, Swan Lake, and other crowd-drawing shows.
Long before one bit of earth was moved for the 961-seat performance hall, the building had inspired several campus-community co-operations. First of all, $750,000 was raised locally to be used for debt service on the building. The state legislature authorized a bond issue to fund the $6.25 million building, but local businesses and individuals have continued to support the center with generous gifts, most recently a privately funded $40,000 lighting system. The most permanent cooperation, however, is that between the college as owner-manager of the Fine Arts Center and the Henderson Arts Alliance, a community organization that has served as the center’s major “presenter” since the center opened. (Presenting involves booking, financing, promoting, and providing technical assistance.)
“Other fine arts centers are in the business of presenting,” says Dale Sights, president of the alliance. “It was not the choice of the college to take the financial risk necessary to do the programming. And so, the Henderson Area Arts Alliance formed when the arts center was still in blueprint stage.”
The alliance serves as an umbrella for 10 arts groups. While the alliance provides a variety of educational programs and exhibitions, its main emphasis has always been to support and raise money for programming at the Fine Arts Center. “We plan the performance series for the Fine Arts Center
and we finance it,” says Anne Boyd, alliance director.
“For some traveling shows, the costs can exceed $25,000-we fund that through corporate contributions and ticket sales,” Boyd says. “And then, we handle the promotion, lighting, sound, hospitality, and dozens of details. We depend heavily upon volunteers.”
Arts account for a viable and growing business in Kentucky. Nearly 1,270,000 people attended events at performing arts centers in the state last year, according to a study performed by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Kentucky. This study also found that in 1997 employees at the 12 performing arts centers studied earned $9.3 million, and that across the state volunteers worked 158,788 hours in Kentucky performing arts centers.
“Our Fine Arts Center exists today as a strong, involved partnership between the Henderson community and the college,” Dr. Lake says. “It is a partnership of economic, social, educational, and cultural benefit.”