President's Essays

The Value of Berry

A healthy community has an identity with its own culture and character. Berry's identity has always included an emphasis on the personal and vocational success of students. That priority was stamped on Berry from the outset.. - more

By your word of mouth

Students find their way to Berry in all sorts of interesting ways,” President Briggs notes at the outset of his summer 2018 essay exploring the important role alumni and friends play in directing students to Berry. Later he declares, “I can’t emphasize it enough: A personal suggestion about a college is more effective and credible than any message sent to a mass of people,” sharing several stories illustrating that important point.. - more


When Professor Peter Lawler died unexpectedly on May 23, the nation lost a perceptive observer of the American soul. Highly regarded as a political philosopher, he was a prolific author and provocative thought leader. Within days of his death, a dozen heartfelt essays were published commemorating his life’s work.. - more

Be Berry Proud

Just five years after Berry was founded, the New York Stock Exchange fell almost 50 percent from its peak of the year before in what became known as the Panic of 1907. The national economic turmoil that ensued hindered donations to Berry and left the school almost penniless. Although destitute themselves, Berry students stepped forward in this moment of crisis. - more

Liberating the Mind

A liberal arts education is one that frees or liberates us from what we take for granted. It is part of human nature to take things for granted. Often, it seems, we do not truly realize what we take for granted until it is gone. - more

Hack Berry: Just Imagine

Imagine an academic major that encourages playful curiosity. Imagine faculty who assign good grades for spectacular failures. Imagine a program focused on solving problems and helping others to be more and do more. At Berry, that academic program is called creative technologies, and it is the first undergraduate degree of its kind in the nation. - more

The Arts at Berry

A number of years ago, one of my advisees came to see me in tears. Anna wanted to major in art, but her father was adamantly opposed, insisting she be practical. Eventually, Anna crafted a compromise with a major in art and a minor in business. She also arranged an internship in the design studio of a London-based magazine. The good news is that Anna quickly found work after graduation as a designer for a book publishing company. - more

Feeding the Soil

Berry is rooted deeply in the soil of Northwest Georgia, its enduring values and defining characteristics shaped by the needs and particulars of this place. Aspects of Berry's educational approach could be transplanted successfully in other contexts, but this relationship to place - what the winemaker would call its terroir - is central to Berry's distinctiveness. - more

Best of Breed

Berry's Animal Science Program is on a roll. From the May 2014 graduating class alone, 16 students are now enrolled in 10 different schools of veterinary medicine. And that is no fluke - 65 Berry graduates have been admitted to veterinary school since May 2010, an average of 16 per year. This is an enviable record both in terms of overall numbers and percentage of success. - more

Paths Through Berry

The paths Berry students follow to LifeReady are necessarily personal, yet they unfold within the context of relationships that shape them. When Kelsey Zablan (14C) received her diploma in May, she was already working one day a week for Turner Broadcasting System in preparation for her current full-time position as product coordinator at HLN (formerly Headline News). - more

Looking Forward

Suppose someone offered you $1 million to accept the following challenge: Work with 10 talented high school graduates and prepare them to live meaningful, healthy, productive and
enjoyable lives. Would you accept the challenge? - more

Stewardship of Place

Residential colleges need natural gathering places. Much of what is learned in college occurs in interactions among people with different backgrounds, interests and experiences. Learning of this sort is spontaneous and spirited; it happens in the hallways where students live and in the dining halls where they eat. Gathering spots provide a context in which emerging friendships can thrive. - more

An Unexpected Opportunity, a Robust Test

Mireille Kibibi arrived at Berry as part of a program that emerged unexpectedly. In July 2009, we embarked on what I have come to view as a robust test of Berry’s core vision. We did not set out to conduct such a test, but one opportunity led to another, and we found ourselves having accepted the challenge of this test nonetheless. - more

The Purpose of Berry

When Martha Berry first established her residential school, she emphasized a model that “teaches by doing” with students undertaking all manner of work necessary to sustain the institution, from growing crops, tending livestock and preparing food to constructing the buildings in which they lived, worked and studied. - more

A High Calling

When Dr. Gordon Carper, one of Berry's legendary faculty members, passed away September a year ago, four former students returned to speak at his memorial service in the Berry College Chapel. All four have been active in leadership at Berry. - more

Strengthening the Communities of Tomorrow

Despite our political differences and the heat of this presidential-election season, many Americans will agree that our nation’s health care system is gravely ill. Although we may be satisfied with the care we receive personally from our local doctors and medical community, we also know that the system itself needs to change. - more

The Right Team

Some may be surprised to learn that football has a long history even at Berry, in the intramural and club form. Records indicate that a student-formed team existed as early as 1906, and two campus literary societies enjoyed an annual Mountain Day tackle football game for a number of years. - more

The Value of Ownership

Last spring, several visitors to campus talked to a group of students about their experiences in Berry’s student work program. One of the students was explaining how much she enjoyed her work when she exclaimed enthusiastically, “I own my job!” - more

Long Live Berry's Trees

On April 27, a light rain had just started falling on an otherwise typical Wednesday morning. At 8:32, the wind gusted a bit, and then suddenly, without warning, branches began to snap and fly. - more

College or University: What's in a Name?

Sometimes the question is posed in terms of whether Berry is qualified to be a university. These inquiries reflect honest confusion about what it means to be a university or a college. The simple truth is that institutions today are more or less free to choose their own label. The choice is one that relates to core identity. - more


My youngest daughter is off to college this fall, her departure coinciding with the arrival of Berry's class of 2014, a talented and promising group of students. - more

The Heart of Berry

At a recent breakfast in Washington, D.C., I heard a U.S. senator speak pointedly about the difference between competence and character. He noted how a lack of persona integrity can undermine the finest accomplishments of a razor-sharp mind and tenacious work ethic, as has been illustrated vividly in the lives of several prominent public figures. - more

Berry Beautiful

Berry is uncommonly beautiful – a place of pastoral and expansive beauty that long has captured the imagination of those who have visited or lived here. More akin to a park than a manicured
garden, the Berry campus is breathtaking in part because it appears so natural with its open fields and wooded slopes, vast pine forests and pristine mountain reservoir. - more

Experiencing Work Firsthand

Berry College stands apart from other colleges and universities today in large part because of our century-long commitment to meaningful work as an integral component in our students' educational experience. Because of our work experience program, Berry students have the opportunity to gain important life lessons about personal and social responsibility determination, and resourcefulness. - more

A Good Move: NCAA Division III Best Serves Berry's Mission

Berry’s reputation is surely growing. Our steadfast focus on the comprehensive development of our students has placed Berry in the company of some of the finest liberal arts colleges in the nation. Our recent acceptance by the Annapolis Group, an organization of America’s top 125 independent liberal arts colleges, affirms our increasing presence. - more

The Many and The One

In the 100 years since the founding of the Berry Alumni Association, tens of thousands of students have graduated from Berry – but not all from the same Berry. - more

Rights, Privileges and Obligations

Commencement ceremonies are formal and unchanging by design. Nevertheless, last year I instituted a small but significant amendment in the declaration by which Berry’s academic degrees are conferred. I added a word: obligations. - more

More than a Sound Bite: how best to tell the berry story

It happened several times last week. It happens most every week. A prospective faculty member from Texas interviews on campus and comments again and again on the exceptional nature of the campus. A well-respected higher education analyst who has visited hundreds of colleges and universities remarks that he has never seen anything the likes of Berry. - more

Purpose and Passion: The Inaugural Address of Dr. Stephen R. Briggs

Distinguished trustees and guests, esteemed members of the Berry community, dear family and friends: As we celebrate another milestone in Berry College’s remarkable journey, it is fitting that we gather here in the college chapel. This place is full of history. - more

A Good Fit

I have spent the better part of my professional life striving to understand what it means for a college to provide students with an exemplary educational experience. Educators have the opportunity to change the way a student thinks about him or herself. We can open new doors. We can challenge and inspire students to pursue a path with purpose and significance. - more