University Business February 2018 - 40

SETTING the PACE
named John Fee, who opened his fledgling
campus to women and black students.
"This place was built for poor white
and African-American students," Roelofs
says. "You can't find many schools built
in the 19th century to serve that demographic and that are still doing it."
Two facilities-the Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education and
Black Cultural Center-drive efforts to
maintain racial harmony on a campus
where 25 percent of non-international
students come from minority groups. Yet,
the college is not immune to external pressures, such as passing motorists with large
Confederate flags yelling racial slurs or
other insults at students, Roelofs says.
"We live in an area that has some hostility to integration and the presence of
cultural and ethnic minorities," he says.
"We experienced it pretty severely about
two years ago-lots of drive-by racism
and homophobic behavior."
Administrators worked with local police to identify some of the drivers and
Berea mounted an even more powerful response in November 2015: a "Love
Over Hate" demonstration downtown, in
which several hundreds members of the
campus and the surrounding community

LEADER AT A GLANCE
Lyle Roelofs, who spent much
of his childhood in Southern
California, has been president
of Berea College in Kentucky
since 2012.
Undergraduate study: B.S. with
honors in physics and mathematics,
Calvin College (Mich.)
Graduate degrees: Ph.D. and
master's in physics, University of
Maryland
On the way up: Interim president,
provost and dean of faculty at
Colgate University (N.Y.); associate
provost at Haverford College (Pa.)

40 | February 2018

you've done something for the economy
of the country, too."

REJECTING RACISM-Berea College
in 2015 held a "Love Over Hate"
rally with the community after some
motorists driving past campus yelled
racial slurs at students.

rallied against bigotry. "A couple of those
drivers came by and they turned right
around," he says.
Berea's philosophy of inclusion also
extends to the undocumented immigrant
students it has decided it will continue
to serve after the Trump administration
announced a phase-out of the Deferred
Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Roelofs calls the decision the school's "biggest political challenge."
"You look at them and think, 'That
person is going to be a great contributor
in the U.S. if we just give them an opportunity,'" he says.
The legacy Roelofs wants to leave behind centers on social mobility. One sign
of success would be if children of Berea
graduates are no longer eligible to attend
the school.
"If you take a student whose parents
are living on $20,000 a year and they are
now able to join middle or upper-middle
or upper class, that's when you've changed
the prospects of a family," he says. "And

100-year-old solution
How does a president and his administration maintain financial health, top-notch
faculty and modern facilities when no
student is charged tuition for a four-year
education estimated to be worth around
$100,000 or more?
Roelofs is an avid fundraiser, but the
heart of the solution dates back to the
1920s, when Berea's board decided all
unrestricted bequests would be added to
the endowment. Those gifts, which total
about $500 million, have grown-with
help from the long-term success of the
stock market (despite recessions and depressions)-to $1.2 billion. That amount
puts Berea in the Top 100 schools with the
largest endowments, close to institutions
like Middlebury, Tulane and University
of Kentucky, according to the National
Center for Education Statistics.
Each year, Berea spends about $55
million of the endowment, which has
been invested in various asset classes that
are managed actively and passively.
"We are highly dependent on America's economic success," Roelofs says. "The
fact that the financial markets have averaged 8 or 9 percent gains over a century
means you can take out 4 to 5 percent
every year, and still keep up with inflation
and the thing grows all by itself."
Berea for the first time faces a potential
1.4 percent tax on its endowment due to
changes enacted by GOP tax reform, according to published reports.
Fundraising presents a challenge at
Berea because many students' families
have limited experience with philanthropy
outside of supporting their churches;
about 20 percent of graduates make a donation each year.
So, to develop a giving mindset in its
current students, Berea created a "payroll deduction" program. Students, who
are required to work on campus at least
10 hours per week, can dedicate a small
portion-$5 or $10-of their paychecks
back to the college. About 930 students
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