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Our History

From the early Native Americans to the brave settlers to the small family farms to the proud coal miners there is no doubt that the Appalachian Mountains are rich with history. Alice Lloyd College resides in the heart of Appalachia and has over one hundred years of history. Browse the page and learn about our founders, presidents, and even how the town of Pippa Passes gained its name. 

You never know, our history may become your history. 

Meet Our Founders

Alice Spencer Geddes Lloyd

Mrs. Lloyd

Alice Lloyd College is named for its founder, Alice Spencer Geddes Lloyd, who came to the Eastern Kentucky Mountains from her native home in Boston. Early in her career, she was a writer for local newspapers and periodicals. In 1902, Miss Geddes was publisher and editor of The Cambridge Press, the first publication in America with an all-female staff.

Eastern Kentucky was sorely lacking in educational opportunities when Alice Lloyd arrived at Ivis, Kentucky, in 1916. She saw the need for regional uplift and felt that through education, the Appalachian people could have a brighter future. Armed with an invitation from a local resident, she came to Pippa Passes to teach the children. Mrs. Lloyd knew that she was among some of the brightest and best students that could be found anywhere. To ensure that no student would be turned away because of financial difficulty, she instituted a mandatory student work program. Mrs. Lloyd secured the success of her mission through generous financial support of her friends on the east coast, voluntary teachers, and “faith as firm as a rock and aspirations as high as the mountains.”

Mrs. Lloyd’s initial efforts at the Ivis Community Center in Knott County, Kentucky, were to provide health care, educational services, and agricultural improvements to the region. In 1917, Mrs. Lloyd, accompanied by her mother, moved to Caney Creek at the behest of local resident Abisha Johnson, who offered her land on which to build a school.

Alice Lloyd’s dictum, “The leaders are here,” became the inspirational impetus for what is now Alice Lloyd College.

Dr. June Buchanan

Dr. June Buchanan

Dr. June Buchanan is the co-founder of Alice Lloyd College. She arrived on Caney Creek two years after Mrs. Lloyd and fell in love with not only Alice Lloyd’s mission but also the people she met in Appalachia. June Buchanan was a native of Syracuse, New York, where she grew up with parents who were strict. Nevertheless, her parents always strove to teach their girls lessons they could apply in their adult life. Miss June learned how to handle finances through her father and uncle; her mother taught her how to promote ideas by being the church’s chairman of the Foreign Mission Board. With parents who stayed active, Miss June inevitably grew up searching for causes that she could advocate.

Miss June graduated from Syracuse University with an A.B., and in 1916, she went on to do graduate work at Wellesley College for three years. With a passion for academia, she continued to strive for knowledge and was eventually recognized with an honorary doctorate from Calvin Coolidge College. However, while at Wellesley, she first heard of Alice Lloyd’s mission in Eastern Kentucky from the Wellesley Women’s Association which made a charitable donation for a multipurpose recreation hall to be built for the Caney Creek Community Center (CCCC). Hearing of everything that the Wellesley College women did for the CCCC inspired Miss June to write to Alice Lloyd of her intentions to visit Caney Creek. A reply of acceptance came quickly from Mrs. Lloyd, and little did Miss June know the magnitude of influence her generosity would have on the CCCC.

Though her first visit did not last long, Mrs. Lloyd quickly realized how pertinent Miss June’s innovative teaching skills would be in educating the leaders of Appalachia. Miss June’s first experience on Caney Creek left her with a new-found confidence, knowledge, and purpose, as well as an eager desire to continue what she began during her brief visit. Upon her return to Caney, she began to adjust to country life and her students while simultaneously seeking ways to improve their education. She eventually developed the most effective teaching methods and created many lessons plans for future teachers to follow. In addition to her role as an educator, she also managed the finances of the CCCC. Her dedication to not only education, but also to the financial wellbeing of the institution, was boldly displayed during December of 1920. While in the office, Miss June and Mrs. Lloyd had just finished receipting a large number of Christmas donations when the fire bell sounded an alarm. The two women evacuated the office, but once they were safely out, Mrs. Lloyd and Miss June frantically realized they had left the money inside the burning building. Without hesitating, Miss June dashed back into the smoke-filled office and rescued the money basket.

Throughout her time on Caney Creek, Miss June continually demonstrated selfless acts of service, and it imprinted on her students the importance of serving others. Eventually, she, along with Mrs. Lloyd, adopted the Purpose Road Philosophy, which is still an essential part of the ALC curriculum, from a philosophy developed by George Herbert Palmer of Harvard University. Through the philosophy, Miss June taught her students to find direction and dedicate themselves to a higher purpose by walking the Purpose Road, which ultimately leads to world service. In addition to encouraging students to find their purpose, Miss June also led her students on Crusades around the country. The Crusades, though largely a fundraising campaign, allowed the students to travel and serve their region by telling countless others of the life-changing opportunities they received on Caney Creek.

Now, the College has a preparatory k-12 school named in Miss June’s honor,The June Buchanan School, where their mascot is a Crusader. Even a hundred years after Miss June’s arrival on Caney Creek, her legacy still impacts current and future students of all grade levels.

Meet Our Presidents

1. William Hayes

Following the death of Mrs. Lloyd in 1962, William Hayes became president and served until 1977. Under his leadership, the College launched a capital improvement campaign, which included construction of a water-treatment facility, three student residence halls, an administrative office building, a science building, and an athletic facility.

2. Jerry C. Davis

Jerry C. Davis was appointed president in 1977. His eleven-year tenure was marked by the creation of an accredited four-year, liberal arts college; the founding of The June Buchanan School (grades K-12); the expansion of a number of campus facilities, including a new library, classrooms, and a performing arts center; and the augmentation of campus programs, student enrollment, and institutional endowment. Since the College became a four-year institution in 1982, hundreds of students have earned baccalaureate degrees, and many alumni have completed graduate and professional programs at little or no personal cost through the continued support from Alice Lloyd College. Many of these graduates have returned to the mountains as teachers, physicians, attorneys, and other leaders of their communities.

3. Fred Mullinax

In 1988, M. Fred Mullinax was named president. Campus expansion continued under President Mullinax’s direction with the construction of two student residence halls and a student center, enhancement of faculty salaries and benefits, recruitment of high-achieving students, and enrichment of the College’s endowment.

4. Timothy T. Siebert

Timothy T. Siebert assumed the presidency in September 1995. He came to the College with a thorough understanding of the college enterprise and with seven years’ experience in development work. Dr. Siebert left the College in December 1998 to return to his home state of Missouri.

5. Joseph Alan Stepp

Joseph Alan Stepp was named president in April 1999. He is the first native Appalachian to assume the president’s position at Alice Lloyd College. During President Stepp’s tenure, the endowment has increased from $12.2 million to $34.4 million (nearly 200%). In recent years, the College has been featured in national media such as U.S. News & World Report as the top college in America for graduating students with the least amount of debt and Forbes Magazine as one of the 100 most financially fit colleges in America. Over the past fifteen years, Alice Lloyd College has spent roughly $20 million on numerous major construction/renovation projects (not counting various other improvements) and technology upgrades. 

6. James O. Stepp

Dr. James O. Stepp was appointed President of Alice Lloyd College in October 2021. Dr. Stepp previously served as Executive Vice President of Alice Lloyd College for seven years. During his tenure, the college has realized record financial support and capacity enrollment. As head of Institutional Advancement, President Stepp has overseen the implementation and maintenance of multiple new projects on the Purpose Road that have contributed to the college’s consistently high national rankings and stellar reputation in the higher education community. To read more about our current president, click here.

Why is it called Pippa Passes?

The community of Pippa Passes derives its name from the verse drama Pippa Passes, written by the British poet Robert Browning. The character of Pippa is a little girl who works in the sweat shops of Italy in the mid-19th Century. On her only holiday of the year, she “passes” through the villages of her countryside, singing the now popular refrain:

The year’s at the spring,
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hill-side’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn:
God’s in his heaven–
All’s right with the world!

Through her song, Pippa inspires troubled lives toward good purposes. The poem reflects “the influence of unconscious good on the world.” Service to the community follows this philosophy as it seeks to expand the scope of the total learning experience. The College maintains, as in the early days, that the purpose of an education is world service; therefore, the College continues to seek avenues of service for staff, faculty, and students. The College offers experiences in and out of the classroom so that learning may become balanced and healthy. Human growth may proceed in all directions, like an expanding sphere rather than a straight line. It is for this reason that the education of an Alice Lloyd College student takes into consideration “all the dimensions of human life which truly matter, and which left unattended lead to a fragmented and absurd existence.”*

*Ferrucci, Piero. What We May Be. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1982.