One of our favorite new traditions – the forming of the “B” by first-year students – heralded the arrival of fall semester on the Berry campus. More than 600 new faces flowed through the Gate of Opportunity for the Aug. 24 kickoff to the 2015-16 academic year, among them approximately 575 freshmen.

Fully one-third of the new students hail from outside Georgia. Representing more than 30 states and 12 foreign countries, these students reflect Berry’s growing regional and national stature.

While final numbers won’t be available for several weeks, preliminary statistics cited by Dean of Students Debbie Heida during opening convocation are impressive, to say the least.

Here are some of the highlights:

38 percent of the new arrivals graduated in the top 25 percent of their high school classes, including seven valedictorians and nine salutatorians

51 percent have been recognized for extraordinary academic achievement

60 percent have had at least one leadership experience, including seven student council presidents

68 percent have been involved in a community service activity

31 percent held jobs during high school

In addition, 65 of the new arrivals have family members who attended Berry

Please join us in welcoming all the newcomers to the Berry family. You’ll be hearing much more about them in the coming years.

Around Berry: Welcome new Vikings

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American Spirit MagazineBerry’s famed Ford Buildings graced the cover of the 2015 education issue of American Spirit magazine, the national publication of the Daughters of the American Revolution. In spotlighting Berry and other DAR-affiliated institutions nationwide, the issue credited Martha Berry with first stirring the DAR’s “passion for supporting schools” with her 1904 address to the organization’s Continental Congress in Washington, D.C. It also traced the unique history of “Martha’s great experiment” and lauded the college for staying “true to its founder’s vision of building and sustaining communities through education.”

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The most unique homecoming celebration in America starts its second century Oct. 2-4, and this is one you don’t want to miss. Click here for a complete schedule of events. Be sure to make note of the second-annual Mega Reunion Brunch, which this year will host the academy and college classes of 1970, 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010.

After Saturday’s traditional picnic and Grand March, we hope you will make plans to stick around for the first Mountain Day football game to be held on campus since the Georgian and Syrreb literary societies concluded their gridiron rivalry decades ago. Kicking off at 6 p.m. at Berry’s new on-campus stadium, Valhalla, the contest will pit coach Tony Kunczewski’s Vikings against Washington University of St. Louis in a rematch of last year’s overtime thriller won by Berry at Barron Stadium in Rome. Alumni tickets are available for purchase online at

A printed brochure will be arriving in your mailbox soon with details on the Mega Reunion Brunch and other Mountain Day events. Information also will be posted to as it becomes available.

Traffic advisory: This year’s Mountain Day celebration coincides with the Wings Over North Georgia Airshow at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport, located just north of the Berry campus on U.S. Highway 27. As you make your way to Berry, please build extra time into your travel schedule to account for traffic generated by this event.

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Brazil Tour 2015

From left, Mika Robinson, Hannah Kate Thompson and Caitlyn Jansen.

Mika Robinson set aside her duties as Berry women’s volleyball coach for a few days this summer to provide leadership for the USA D-3 volleyball team during its Brazil Tour 2015. The team – consisting of All-American, All-Region and All-Conference players from across NCAA Division III – played five matches in four different cities during the 10-day tour, concluding their visit in the shadow of the famed “Christ the Redeemer” statue in Rio de Janeiro. Also representing Berry were assistant coach Caitlyn Jansen (14G) and rising sophomore Hannah Kate Thompson.

Visit the Berry volleyball blog to read more about their experiences.

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David Crook of Mike Crook Garden and Stone uses a mixture of clay composed of Berry sand, quicklime and sawdust to seal the walls of Roosevelt Cabin. (Photo by student Lauren Neumann.)

A preservation and restoration effort years in the making is breathing new life into Berry’s iconic Roosevelt Cabin. Built in 1902, the structure has served many purposes during the past century, but it is most famous for hosting former President Teddy Roosevelt during his 1910 visit to Berry.

The restoration process, which entered its final stages this summer, began about 10 years ago thanks to a donation from the Jarrett family and grants from the Georgia Department of Natural Resource’s Historical Preservation Division. According to Dr. Jennifer Dickey (77A, 80C), consultant for the project and former director and curator of Historic Berry, the work included rebuilding the foundation, replacing multiple logs, reconstruction of the roof frame, addition of a new roof, restoration of all the windows and doors, and application of new chinking.

Those attending Mountain Day will get a look at the restored Roosevelt Cabin during an open house scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 3.

Media coverage: Restoring the past

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Lindsey FarrerJust call Lindsay Black Farrer (03C) a trendsetter. The founder and lead designer for Simon & Ruby handmade jewelry was spotlighted in a recent Today Show: Style article, “Take a walk on the wild side: Five fashion and beauty rules to break this summer.” Farrer shared the inspiration behind her unique styles – and the role Berry played in her development – in an interview with her hometown paper, the Decatur (Ala.) Daily. Read more.

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Participants in Dr. Sarah Allred's spring 2013 "Corrections and Incarcerations" class.

Dr. Sarah Allred, associate professor and chair of Berry’s sociology department, was a featured voice in a recent Yes! Magazine article spotlighting the national Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program. This initiative provides college students and those who are incarcerated with a unique opportunity to learn together about incarceration, crime and other social issues. By taking college students inside the walls of jails and prisons, the program creates a learning environment that is both highly collaborative and transformative for participants. In 2008, Berry became the first college or university in Georgia to offer such an experience. Since that time, 136 “outside” students from Berry have completed the course along with a complementary number of “inside” students. Allred’s involvement has grown through the years. She has published research on the impacts of this type of learning and now serves on the national steering committee for the Inside-Out Center.

In her interview with Yes!, Allred explained that college students participating in the program gain a new understanding of these broader issues through dialogue with their “inside” counterparts, who they come to see as people, not numbers or labels. “In one of these courses, you’re sitting next to someone’s father, someone’s sister,” she stated. Read article.

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Green LadyA student video production inspired by one of Berry’s most famous ghost stories earned a nod as a finalist in this year’s Southeast Regional Emmy Awards competition. Conceived by communication major Rachel Blair, Green Lady is a four-episode series based on the legendary specter said to haunt the stretch road leading to Berry’s mountain campus. The nominated episode was directed by Everett Reiff (14C). Other series contributors included Josy Roman (14C) and John Jones (14C).

This is the third Southeast Regional Emmy nomination for Berry’s student-run multimedia website, Viking Fusion. Click the accompanying image to view the series in its entirety, including Emmy-nominated Episode 3.

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The Berry Alumni Association is now accepting nominations for the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Awards. Presented annually at Alumni Weekend, these special honors recognize the best of the best in Berry’s alumni community.

Awards are available in each of the following categories:

Distinguished Achievement
Distinguished Service
Entrepreneurial Spirit
Outstanding Young Alumni

If you know a friend or classmate who is worthy of such recognition, please take a few minutes to let us know by completing the online nomination form. The deadline for submissions is Oct. 31.

Visit the Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame for names of past winners. The accompanying video showcases our 2015 recipients.

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Cave EcologyStudents taking “Cave Ecology” with Associate Professor of Biology Cathy Borer found themselves in a VERY different type of classroom this summer as they explored caves in central Tennessee and northeast Alabama. Participating biology and environmental science majors got their hands dirty – literally – while gaining a better understanding of cave ecosystems and conservation and management challenges unique to caves. Read more.

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Old MillIn the July edition of the Alumni Accent poll, we asked you to tell us what you like best about the Accent’s sister publication, Berry magazine. Fifty-eight percent responded “Everything!,” to which we can only echo Elvis Presley in saying, “Thank you. Thank you very much.” Next with 13 percent was “Pictures! Can’t get enough!,” followed by class notes (11 percent), alumni profiles (8 percent), campus news (5 percent), president’s essay (3 percent) and student/faculty feats (2 percent). We appreciate your input and, more importantly, your readership!

This month we draw inspiration from that slight chill in the morning air that heralds the approaching fall. Scroll to the blog footer to tell us what you consider to be an ideal fall day on the world’s largest campus.

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