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FAQS about Berea's Presidents: Home

FAQS about Berea's Presidents

Frequently Asked Questions about the Berea College Presidents

Was John G. Fee the first president of Berea College?

Quick Answer: No

Has Berea College ever had a president that was actually from Appalachia?
Quick Answer: Willis D. Weatherford, Jr. was born in western North Carolina and grew up in the region; he would therefore be considered Appalachian.

Quick Facts about Berea College Presidents

Edward Henry Fairchild (1869 - 1886/9)

Date and Place of Birth: 29 November 1815, in Stockbridge, Massachusetts
Education: Oberlin College, 1835
Prior Job Experience: Served as Principal of the Preparatory Department at Oberlin College in Ohio
End of Term: Fairchild resigned in 1886 due to declining health, but remained provisional president until 1889 as no replacement had yet been found.
Died: October 1889


William B. Stewart (1890 - 1892)

Date and Place of Birth: 1834, in Ecclefechan, Scotland
Education: Annan Academy; University of Glasgow; ordained a Baptist minister in Ontario, 1859
Prior Job Experience: Baptist pastor, teacher, newspaper editor in Ontario, Canada
President of Rogers Williams College in Nashville, Tennessee, 1882-1884
Principal of Collegiate Academy, Winchester, Kentucky, 1884-1890
Elected to Berea's Board of Trustees in June 1889
End of Term: Stewart resigned in June 1892 after much controversy. Although he remained on Berea's Board of Trustees until 1895, he returned to
Canada and served at the Toronto Bible Training School.
Died: 5 March 1912, in Toronto


William Goodell Frost (1892 - 1920)

Date and Place of Birth: 2 July 1854, in Leroy, New York
Education: Oberlin College, 1876
Studied at Harvard and Andover Seminary, 1877-1878
Oberlin Seminary, 1879
Prior Job Experience: Scholar, Greek professor at Oberlin College in Ohio
End of Term: Resigned in 1920 due to poor health
Died: 11 September 1938

His grandfather was famous abolitionist William Goodell.
His aunt, Lavinia Goodell, was the first female attorney in the state of Wisconsin.

William J. Hutchins (1920 - 1939)

Date and Place of Birth: July 1871, in Brooklyn, New York
Education: Oberlin College, 1888-1890
Yale University, 1892
Union Theological Seminary, 1896
Prior Job Experience: Pastor, Bedford Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, NY 1896-1907
Professor at Oberlin School of Theology, 1907-1920
YMCA National War Work Council, Aug 1917 - Jan 1918
End of Term: Retired in 1939


Francis S. Hutchins (1939 - 1967)

Date and Place of Birth: 17 August 1902, in Northfield, Massachusetts
Education: Oberlin College, A.B. 1925
Yale University, M.A. 1933
Prior Job Experience: Administrator for Yale-in-China, 1926-1939
End of Term: Retired in 1967
Died: 28 November 1988 in Berea


Willis D. Weatherford, Jr. (1967 - 1984)

Date and Place of Birth: 24 June 1916, in Biltmore, North Carolina, family home in Black Mountain
Education: Vanderbilt, B.A. 1937
Yale, B.D. 1940
Harvard, M.A. 1943
Harvard, Ph.D. 1952
Prior Job Experience: Professor of Economics, Swarthmore, 1948-1964
Served with American Friends Service Committee in Europe and Africa during WWII and in India, 1950-1951
implementing rural planning and development projects in over 40 villages
Ford Foundation, research grant, 1954-1955
United Nations, rural development adviser in Malaysia, 1959-1960
Dean, Carleton College, 1965-1967
End of Term: Retired in 1984
Died: 22 May 1996

All 5 of Weatherford's children attended school in Berea and graduated from Berea College. During Weatherford's presidency Berea expanded its admissions territory, opened the Appalachian Museum, began its Appalachian studies curriculum, started the Appalachian Center, and began support for Special Collections & Archives Appalachian collections and research programs.

John B. Stephenson (1984-1994)

Date and Place of Birth: 26 September 1937 in Staunton, Virginia
Education: William and Mary, B.A. 1959
University of North Carolina, M.A. [1961]
University of North Carolina, Ph.D. [1966]
Prior Job Experience: Lees-McCrae College, 1961-1964
Sociology Department, University of Kentucky, 1966-1970
Dean of Undergraduate Studies, University of Kentucky, 1970-1979
Director of Appalachian Center, University of Kentucky, 1979-1984
End of Term: Retired in 1994
Died: 6 December 1994


Larry D. Shinn (1994 - 2012)

Date and Place of Birth: 16 January 1942, near Alliance, Ohio
Education: Baldwin-Wallace, 1964
Drew Theological Seminary, 1968
Princeton University, Ph.D. 1972
Prior Job Experience: Oberlin College,1970-1984
Named the William H. Danforth Professor of Religion, 1984
Dean of College of Arts and Sciences, Bucknell University, 1984-1989
Vice President for Academic Affairs, Bucknell University, 1989-1994
End of Term: Retired in 2012


Lyle D. Roelofs (2012 - 2023)

Date and Place of Birth:  
Education: Calvin College, B.S.
University of Maryland, M.S. and Ph.D.
Brown University, post-doc
Prior Job Experience: Taught at the University of Maryland, Calvin College, Brown University,
Haverford College and Colgate University.
Associate Provost, Haverford College
Provost and Dean of Faculty, Interim President, Colgate University


Cheryl L. Nixon (2023 - )


Date and Place of Birth:
Education: Tufts, B.A.
Harvard University, Ph.D.
Prior Job Experience: Taught at the University of Massachusetts 
Associate Provost, University of Massachusetts 
Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs, Fort Lewis College