Mission & Ministry - The University of the South at Sewanee

The University of the South - Sewanee

Holding a place in the Common Ministry Budget of our diocese, and known familiarly as "Sewanee," The University of the South is the only university in the nation that is owned and governed by dioceses of the Episcopal Church, specifically the 28 dioceses of the southeastern United States. With historic roots in the Anglican ecclesiastical and academic traditions, Sewanee welcomes people of all faiths and offers a lively environment for active worship in the Episcopal tradition, which includes a commitment to service and an openness to intellectual discourse.

As the University passes its sesquicentennial milestone, some things are unchanging: Sewanee remains purposefully small, dedicated to building a sense of community and lasting relationships. All classes are taught by professors, not by graduate teaching assistants, and close faculty-student interaction ensures that each student enjoys a rich and personal educational experience. Students and faculty often work together on research projects and journal articles, meet for coffee at a local eatery, or serve together in the University orchestra, volunteer fire department, and other civic groups.

The result of such individualized education is clear in the academic success of Sewanee students and alumni. The University has produced 26 Rhodes Scholars - putting Sewanee's count in the top four among American liberal arts colleges - has had dozens of Fulbright Scholars, and has an acceptance rate to graduate and professional schools far outpacing its peers.

In an era of specialization, Sewanee upholds the broad-based ideals of liberal education as a surer means to success. Sewanee offers 36 majors, 32 minors, and 15 special programs, along with pre-medicine, pre-nursing, pre-law, and pre-business. More than 40 percent of students participate in study-abroad programs, and a comprehensive endowed program supports summer internships.

The bishops who founded the University of the South included theological education as an essential part of their dream for a great university. By 1878, the Episcopal Church formally opened a seminary at the University of the South. The School of Theology has added countless bishops to its alumni ranks. Grounded in scholarship, Anglican heritage, and faith, the School of Theology at Sewanee represents the best in theological education for the clergy and lay leaders of tomorrow. Degree programs of various types prepare priests and lay persons for ministry.

Bishop Howard elected 24th Chancellor

The Right Rev. Samuel Johnson (John) Howard, VIII Bishop of the Diocese of Florida, was elected the 24th Chancellor of the University of the South on October 9, 2012, by the University's Board of Trustees. Bishop Howard succeeds the Right Rev. J. Neil Alexander, who was appointed Sewanee's Dean of The School of Theology in summer 2012. Bishop Howard, a member of Sewanee's Board of Trustees since 2004 and of the Board of Regents since 2007, received an honorary degree from the University in 2004.

The Chancellor, elected from the bishops of the University's twenty-eight owning dioceses, serves a six-year term and is president, ex officio, of the Board of Trustees and a member of the Board of Regents. As Chancellor, while continuing as Bishop of Florida, Bishop Howard will provide leadership and counsel to the University's Vice-Chancellor and Board of Regents.

"I am most honored to have been elected to this position by my colleagues and look forward to the exciting opportunities ahead," Bishop Howard said. "It is a particular joy for me to serve in exciting and joyful ministry in our Diocese and at Sewanee."

The Domain

Sewanee was founded in 1857 by clergy and lay delegates from Episcopal dioceses throughout the South, who also selected the site. Delayed by the Civil War, the University opened in 1868 with the help of benefactors in America and England.

Atop the Cumberland Plateau between Nashville and Chattanooga, Tennessee, Sewanee's physical environment, including the 13,000-acre Domain (as the campus and surrounding area is known), provides a remarkable academic and recreational resource, inviting students to engage in both a multitude of outdoor activities and careful study of the natural environment.

The distinctive campus architecture borrows from the Gothic tradition of Oxford and Cambridge, with native sandstone buildings and garden pathways nestled into a wooded landscape, soaring bell towers and, at center, the cathedral-like All Saints' Chapel.

"The University of the South is an institution of the Episcopal Church dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom in close community and in full freedom of inquiry, and enlightened by Christian faith in the Anglican tradition, welcoming individuals from all backgrounds, to the end that students be prepared to search for truth, seek justice, preserve liberty under law, and serve God and humanity."

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