Two Appointees Strengthen Berea’s Historic Interracial Education Commitment

Apr 25, 2012 5 Comments by

Berea College has appointed Dr. Alicestyne Turley as the first director of the Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education and Monica Jones as the new director of the Black Cultural Center. Turley will also serve as assistant professor of African and African American Studies. Both appointments will become effective in July, 2012.

The Carter G. Woodson Center, whose namesake became known as “the father of Black history,” will support collaborations among existing programs related to interracial education and other shared commitments to cultural understanding, equality and justice, and will extend the college’s interracial education efforts to other institutions and communities, particularly in the Appalachian region. The center will also build on the college’s historic interracial commitment by supporting the recruitment, retention and academic success of black students through programming, support services, co-curricular programs and leadership development.

Dr. Turley comes to Berea College from the University of Louisville, where she has served as an assistant professor in the department of Pan-African Studies since August 2009. During this time she also served as director of the Underground Railroad Research Program and a Commissioner on the Louisville Landmarks Commission.  From 2001-09, Turley served as adjunct professor, founder and director of the Underground Railroad Research Institute at Georgetown College.

Turley earned her bachelor’s degree in anthropology and sociology from Georgetown College before earning her master’s degree in public policy and administration from Mississippi State University and her doctorate in history from the University of Kentucky.

Monica Jones comes to Berea College from Ohio University, Athens, where she has served as director of diversity for regional campuses since 2009. At the Zanesville campus, she served as director of student services from 2001-09 and as minority student and adult student coordinator from 1998-2001. Jones also served as president of the Martin Luther King Scholarship Fund and the Putnam Underground Railroad Center (PURE).

Jones earned her bachelor’s degree in zoology and her master’s degree in education and higher education administration from Ohio University, Athens, where she is currently pursuing her doctorate in higher education administration.

Establishment of the Woodson Center stems from the college’s 2006 strategic plan revision process mandating that the college reassert interracial education in its contemporary learning, working and living environments. As the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, Berea College’s historic interracial education commitment is foundational, directly articulated in one of the college’s Great Commitments: “To assert the kinship of all people and to provide interracial education with a particular emphasis on understanding and equality among blacks and whites.”

The Woodson Center will be housed on the main floor of the Alumni Building. Renovation is expected to begin in May 2012 and be completed in October. Designed to create an engaging and welcoming space for academic and co-curricular activities, the center will accommodate lectures and banquets while incorporating displays, artifacts and housing Center staff.

The Black Cultural Center will be located within the Woodson Center, but continue to maintain its own identity as a “Gathering Place” for students. The BCC will also feature a resource library for printed and digital artifacts and materials and student work areas.

Academic Vice President and Dean of the Faculty Dr. Chad Berry says the centers will be an important focal point for Berea’s commitment to interracial education. “I believe the Carter G. Woodson Center can indeed help Berea become an even more welcoming and inclusive community, but it cannot tackle this alone,” says Berry. “Every member of Berea College will be needed to achieve the ideal that our founder, John G. Fee, and our great alumnus, Carter G. Woodson, envisioned.”

Dr. William Turner, noted author of “Blacks in Appalachia” and distinguished professor of Appalachian studies at Berea College, says the Woodson Center will impact the college’s commitment to recruiting and retaining black students. “African American students coming [to Berea] presently and in the future should be comforted to know that the college's mission is steadfast in the kind of intentional efforts it undertakes to combat the legacy of the stubborn and many-sided inequalities they face,” says Turner. “The work of the Woodson Center to assist in recruiting them, providing services to assure that they feel welcomed and supported, and to graduating them is simply ‘what we do’ at Berea.

“When they leave and return home, to Appalachia and beyond, their expanded skill sets return to their communities. Individual capacity building and community revitalization starts here at Berea College,” Turner adds.

Born to freed slaves in Appalachian Virginia, Carter G. Woodson was a sharecropper and coal miner before attending Berea College until 1903. In 1912, Woodson became the second black American to earn a doctorate from Harvard University.

In 1915, Woodson helped found the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and later established the “Journal of Negro History” before forming Associated Publishers Press in 1921, which published several of his own works, including “The Mis-education of the Negro,” considered by many to be one of the most important books on education ever written.

In 1926, Woodson founded Negro History Week, which later became Black History Month, celebrated across the U.S. every February. Woodson is quoted as saying, “If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world…”

Turley added, “At one time, the study of African American life and culture was not even considered an academic discipline, but now I am honored to be selected to fill this important position as Woodson has become nationally and internationally recognized as the founder of African history in America. The work of the center will seek to instill in every Berean Woodson’s sense of discovery, dedication to academic excellence and commitment to social inclusion that his life and work represent.”

Turley noted that Carter G. Woodson now takes his place in American culture at his alma mater at a time when the nation has elected its first African-American President, the Smithsonian Institution has broken ground for a permanent African-American museum on the Mall in Washington D.C., and where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is now commemorated along the Tidal Basin in a line of sight that includes the Jefferson, Lincoln and Washington Memorials. “It is only fitting,” says Dr. Turley, “that Berea College recognizes this historic opportunity by acknowledging its part in shaping the early academic life of this legendary American.”


About the author

Monica Leslie was the student News and Video manager for the Berea College Department of Public relations. Monica, a senior Industrial Arts and Technology major from Atlanta, had a concentration in Applied Math and certification in Eco Architecture and Design. She has worked with the Department of Public Relations since January of 2009. But Monica has also spent time working with CELTS for the student led environmental service organization, HEAL and as a full time seasonal worker on the Berea College Farm. In her spare time, Monica is very active in many campus organizations including the Berea College Mortar Board (Alpha Sigma Xi Chapter) of which she is currently the President. She is also an inducted member of the Epsilon Pi Tau (Gamma Mu chapter) honorary. In her time at Berea, Monica has also been an active leader in many other campus organizations ranging from the Berea College African Latin Percussion Ensemble, Berea College Society of Physics Students (Vice President), Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), Buddhist Student Association (Vice President) and has even held a seat on the Berea College General Faculty Council’s Learning Commons committee. Monica hopes to spend more of her time focusing more of her attention toward developing her skills as a mentor through service learning and leadership development. She is also working upon building upon her close connections with her classmates. She plans upon spending the upcoming year as a One on One tutor (through Berea College CELTS), will be learning how to play the fiddle and has also become a member of the Berea College Ultimate Frisbee team. While Monica has learned a lot through her Berea College experience and is grateful for the time that she spent working with these other campus organizations, Monica admits that she is thrilled to be back at work with the Department of Public Relations. Monica, who is the sister Marcus Leslie, the former head videographer for the Berea College Department of Public relations and recent alum shared, "I haven’t quite put my finger on exactly what it is, but even without my brother here, there’s something about this place that just always feels like home.” The Department of Public Relations is located in the Visitor’s Center building in Berea, KY behind College Square and the Historic Boone Tavern.
Danielle G says:

Dr. Turley
We miss you here at UofL. <3

Berea, you have a real gem!

Congratulations Dr. Turley!

Matthew 'Zip" Irvin says:

WELCOME BACK ALICESTYNE! I am so happy that you will be back in Madison County. We have missed you!

Alicestyne Turley says:

Thank you Mrs. Njagu. Believe me, the pleasure and honor was all mine! I hope you and all the Divas will join us again on campus once renovations are complete and the Center officially opens.

My best to you and your family.


Alicestyne Turley

I met BOTH of these two ladies outside the Alumni Center this past weekend while revisiting Berea College. My fellow classmates and I decided to meet for our annual Diva Weekend & since we were in Lexington, KY this year, we made the trip down to see the campus. Class of 1982 & Class of 1983. We were all housed in Pearsons Dormitory and were known as Pearsons Pandas... we were disappointed that the current residents had NO IDEA that they had a dorm mascot. Also that the FIRST FLOOR rooms in Pearsons no longer had LOFTS... However, we were impressed with the elevator... LOL... We look forward to possibly returning for a Homecoming Event, since this was my first visit back since I married in Danforth Chapel to Paul Njagu (Class of 1983) in May, 1983... We wish Dr. Turley and Ms. Jones every blessing in their new positions, we were glad God ordered our steps to meet them BOTH in the same moment... Cheers!

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