Berea College Leads Nation in On-Campus Sustainability Efforts

By Tim Jordan

Sullivan Foundation partner school Berea College gained the No. 1 spot in the nation for campus engagement in the newly released 2019 Sustainable Campus Index (SCI). The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) recognizes top-performing colleges and universities in 17 sustainability impact areas and overall by institution type, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) reporting system.

Berea, long known for a strong commitment to sustainability, was recognized with a perfect score for campus engagement. Since 2017, Berea College has had a “gold” STARS rating.

Related: Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite Retreat helps college students spark social change in three days.

The newly released SCI report also highlights innovative and high-impact initiatives from institutions that submitted STARS reports in the most recent calendar year. The institutions and initiatives featured in this year’s SCI showcase the great work higher education institutions are doing to lead the global sustainability transformation.

Berea College is a leader in “turning the bluegrass state green,” achieving many sustainability “firsts.” It had both the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified building in Kentucky (Lincoln Hall, the College’s administration building) and the first LEED-certified hotel (Historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant).

Related: Berea College brings the AIR Institute to Kentucky to promote Appalachian crafts.

Berea’s campus also is home to several LEED-certified residence halls and the newly-built Margaret A. Cargill Natural Sciences and Health Building (MAC), which was awarded LEED gold certification and full-project certification by the Forest Stewardship Council. Berea College is also the home of the first Ecovillage in the commonwealth. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to assess and recognize buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance, LEED promotes environmentally and socially responsible construction and operation of green buildings to improve quality of life.

Berea offers a no-tuition college experience, where students are “free to follow their dreams after college without the burden of costly student loans.” Along with Sullivan partner school Alice Lloyd College, Berea was recognized by both USA Today and Fox Business for its efforts to help students work their way to a degree instead of dealing with the soaring tuition costs typical of today’s American colleges.

This is a slightly edited version of an original article on the Berea College website.

Berea College, Alice Lloyd College Recognized as Tuition-Free Work Colleges

Two Sullivan Foundation partner schools—Berea College and Alice Lloyd College—were recognized recently by USA Today and Fox Business for their efforts to help students work their way to a degree instead of paying high tuition.

USA Today singled out Berea and ALC as two of the country’s nine official four-year “work colleges,” where students must work as part of their learning experience. Berea and ALC are two of only three such schools that offer free tuition.

For the story, USA Today interviewed Collis Robinson, who cleaned restrooms and set up events at Berea College before becoming comptroller and, later, director of the school’s campus activities board. “I led 22 people and had a $70,000 budget to manage,” Robinson, now Berea’s director of student labor, told USA Today. “I got to gain a lot of transferable skills.”

Students from ALC’s 108-county service are guaranteed that the full cost of their tuition will be covered. They have to work a minimum of 10 hours a week on campus, serving as janitors, resident advisors, teacher assistants, postal workers and other positions.

Students at Berea College have to work at on-campus departments 10-20 hours a week. They typically earn $2,000 for the academic year, USA Today reports.

Free tuition doesn’t necessarily mean a free education, of course. Depending on the school, other expenses, such as room, board, books and supplies might have to be covered by the student in other ways, whether out-of-pocket or through scholarships, loans or Pell Grants. Still, working for your degree is a big money-saver, as USA Today notes: “The average undergraduate annual tuition and fees across all undergraduate institutions is $12,600, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. Students at private nonprofit schools pay the most: $33,800 annually on average.”