Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Education Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Joseph Waddington

Second Advisor

Dr. John Thelin


Since its founding in 1855 Berea College has continuously defined and redefined itself based on eight Great Commitments that collectively shape Berea’s mission. All Bereans, from students to alums to Presidents, have a responsibility to review and evaluate the ways in which Berea College is acting on each of its eight Commitments. This study offers a review of Berea’s Appalachian Commitment, “To engage Appalachian communities, families, and students in partnership for mutual learning, growth, and service” (Berea College, 2017). The following three articles seek to understand some of the ways in which Berea College leaders have interpreted and acted on this Commitment. More specifically, the three articles examine how Berea College serves as an Appalachian Anchor Institution. Berea leaders have developed and led hundreds of outreach programs and services with the goal of improving community outcomes in Appalachia. This type of commitment, to a specific place and its future, separates anchor institutions from other organizations (Boyer, 1996; Bringle et al., 1999; Dubb, 2007; Hodges & Dubb, 2012; Hudson, 2013; Maurrasse, 2002).

Berea is nationally known for being regionally committed and the Appalachian Commitment stands apart from the other seven Great Commitments. There are few higher education institutions that have attempted the type of work it is committed to, and it should be lauded for this work. There is still a need to critically analyze its work and understand how it can improve. This research aims to share some of the untold stories in Berea’s history and celebrate the efforts and work they conducted at the college. It also casts a critical lens on the ways that the College shifted its mission towards Appalachian service and the narratives utilized to support that aim. The three articles offer various vantage points for this review, but all three are demonstrations of the ways Berea College acts as an Appalachian Anchor Institution.

The first article shares some of the ways that Berea initially stepped into the anchor institution role. The second is a broad review of how the College could strengthen its work as an anchor intuition with asset-based frameworks. The third article shares an example of programming that anchor institutions engage with and describes the outcomes from a specific project. This research was formed out of an interest in how Berea developed into an Appalachian Anchor Institution as well as a desire to understand frameworks these institutions can use to strengthen their work or to analyze outcomes. There are lessons that can be learned from the ways that institutions like Berea have operated historically, and it is helpful to examine the patterns that persist.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)