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Berea College President discusses student unionization, future school programs amid inauguration

Tyler Rocquemore ’22

Cheryl L. Nixon was officially inaugurated as Berea College’s tenth president Saturday with a formal ceremony. She’s served in that role since July of last year.

During a Friday discussion ahead of the ceremony, Nixon spoke about a number of topics involving the school’s future.

That includes the ongoing student unionization efforts at the work college. Student workers filed with the National Labor Relations Board last month in order to have a formal union election.

Nixon says she’s willing to work with students to help solve any issues, but she thinks a labor union would be incompatible with their current financial aid model.

“Federal money through the work college program comes to us that we're able to use to help pay for their tuition,” Nixon said. “So it's a financial aid model that we are very uncertain about unionizing.”

Other discussion topics included implementing new school programs. Nixon says she’s heard from students about ideas for more outdoor wellness activities, and stronger pipelines to other institutions for graduate school or studying abroad.

“The student government is actually working on helping me map the student experience and where we can improve it,” Nixon said. “You know, what are we doing well, and what do we need to improve?”

More on the unionization efforts of Berea College students will air on WEKU later this week.

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Shepherd joined WEKU in June 2023 as a staff reporter. He most recently worked for West Virginia Public Broadcasting as General Assignment Reporter. In that role, he collected interviews and captured photos in the northern region of West Virginia. Shepherd holds a master’s degree in Digital Marketing Communication and a bachelor’s in music from West Virginia University.
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