Cheryl Nixon Will Be the First Woman to Lead Berea College in Kentucky

Cheryl L. Nixon has been appointed the tenth president of Berea College in Kentucky. When she takes office on July 1, she will be the first woman to hold the position in the college’s 167-year history.

Berea College was founded in 1855 by a Presbyterian minister who was an abolitionist. It was the first integrated, co-educational college in the South. The college has not charged tuition since 1892. Students work on campus to cover the costs of their education The college enrolls just under 1,500 students, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education. Women make up 59 percent of the student body.

“I am honored and humbled to be chosen as the next president of Berea College,” Dr. Nixon said. “Berea is an inspirational model of what higher education can and should be. I share Berea’s focus on inclusive excellence, having dedicated my career to serving underserved students. I have worked in both rural and urban settings to provide opportunities to students who often do not see themselves within higher education. By creating new ways to welcome these talented students into college, we can transform lives while also transforming communities. We must help students with wide-ranging interests and abilities feel inspired and empowered by the world of ideas. We must also help our communities — from Boston to the Navajo Nation to Appalachia — see and feel the benefits of higher education.”

Dr. Nixon is currently the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. Prior to that, she was the associate provost, English department chair, and graduate program director at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Her research focuses on the invention of the novel in the 18th century, and her books and articles compare the early novel’s representation of the family to manuscript legal cases. She is the author of The Orphan in Eighteenth-Century Law and Literature: Estate, Blood and Body (Routledge, 2011) and Novel Definitions: An Anthology of Commentary on the Novel, 1688-1815 (Broadview Press, 2009).

Dr. Nixon earned a bachelor’s degree in English and political science from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in English from Harvard University.

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