The University of the South consists of the College of Arts and Sciences and The School of Theology. It is owned by 28 dioceses of the Episcopal Church and is governed by a board of trustees, most of whom are elected from these dioceses, and by the board of regents, which acts as the executive board of the trustees. Its chief executive officer is the vice-chancellor and president. The chancellor, elected from among the bishops of the owning dioceses, serves as a chair of the board of trustees and, together with the vice-chancellor, is a member of the board of regents, ex officio.
The University is located at Sewanee, Tennessee, in southeastern middle Tennessee atop the Cumberland Plateau, approximately 90 miles from Nashville, the state capital, and 50 miles from Chattanooga.
Established with a donation of land from the Sewanee Mining Company at a place known to the Native Americans as Sewanee, the University and the community are popularly known as Sewanee.
History of the University
Concerned by the failure of the Episcopal Church to establish a successful institution of higher learning within the southern states, 10 Episcopal dioceses agreed in 1856 to cooperate in creating a single university. Responding to their bishops' invitation, clergy and lay delegates from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas met at Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, Tennessee, on July 4, 1857, to name the first board of trustees.
On October 10, 1860, the ceremonial laying of a University cornerstone was completed, but plans were drastically altered by the Civil War, which erupted a few months later. After the war, the bishop of Tennessee and the University's commissioner of buildings and lands returned to the campus in 1866 to re-establish the institution formally. But the money raised before the war was gone, the South was impoverished, and there was much to do before the University would open.
The first convocation of the University of the South was held on September 18, 1868, with nine students and four faculty present. The campus consisted of three simple frame buildings. Although years of struggle and adversity lay ahead, the University grew because many people, eager to participate in this challenging enterprise and willing to sacrifice for it, came to Sewanee.
The University's history can be divided into several periods. The "second founding" in 1866 was followed by years of uncertainty during Reconstruction. But from the end of that period until 1909, the University experienced steady growth.
Rising expenses forced the University to close the departments of dentistry, engineering, law, medicine, and nursing in 1909 allowing it to maintain its basic departments — a preparatory school, college, and seminary. Although the academic strength and reputation of the University grew, it lived with constant financial hardships.
The University shored up its ailing finances, undertook much-needed renovations, and emerged from the eras of the Great Depression and World War II well-equipped and prepared to enter its greatest period of growth. From 1950 to 1970, the endowment increased from just over $1 million to more than $20 million. Old buildings underwent major renovations, new buildings were constructed, and the school became coeducational in 1969.
During the seventies and eighties a new student union and hospital were built and municipal services were modernized. These years were also characterized by a dramatic improvement in the financial condition of the University as well as a revival of religious life on campus. Moreover, the University's three-year national capital campaign met and surpassed its $50 million goal.
From its opening in 1868 until 1981, the University included a preparatory school known successively as the Junior Department, the Sewanee Grammar School, the Sewanee Military Academy, and the Sewanee Academy. In April, 1981, the board of trustees voted to merge the academy with St. Andrew's School on the St. Andrew's campus, just outside the gates of the University Domain. St. Andrew's-Sewanee School continues today to provide quality education in an Episcopal setting.
From 2000-2010, under the leadership of Vice-Chancellor Joel Cunningham, Sewanee saw extensive growth in the physical campus, expanding enrollment, and successful fundraising. Dr. Cunningham led an administration at Sewanee characterized by fiscal discipline and a strategic planning effort that touched virtually every area of the University’s operation. During his tenure, Sewanee enjoyed record applications to the College of Arts and Sciences, a comprehensive program of renovation and new construction for academic, residential and athletics facilities, growth in the influence and reach of The School of Theology, and increasing recognition as a leading national liberal arts university. Under his leadership, the University completed the historic Sewanee Call Capital Campaign in 2008, exceeding the $180 million goal by more than $25 million. The campaign was marked by over $40 million in endowment commitments for scholarships; extensive academic, residential, and athletics facility construction; the addition of 3,000 acres to the University’s landholdings; and significant support for faculty compensation and academic enrichment.
In July 2010 the University welcomed as its 16th vice-chancellor a nationally known educator and scholar of the American South. John McCardell, president emeritus of Middlebury College in Vermont and a scholar of the pre-bellum Southern nationalist movement, was unanimously elected by the Trustees in January.
Located on the western face of the Cumberland Plateau approximately 50 miles west of Chattanooga, the campus, residential areas, the village of Sewanee, lakes, forests, and surrounding bluffs comprise a tract of 13,000 acres owned by the University and called the University Domain. Except for the campus and town, the Domain is preserved in a natural state as a wildlife preserve, recreational area, and site for scientific study. The unincorporated town of Sewanee, which is managed by the University administration, has a population of 2,500.
The University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. To contact, write to Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges, 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097 or online at www.sacscoc.org, or call 404.679.4500. The University is also a member of the American Council on Education, the Association of American Colleges, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Associated Colleges of the South, and the Appalachian College Association. Degrees awarded include the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts in English and American Literature, Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, Master of Arts in Theology, Master of Divinity, Master in Sacred Theology, Master of Theological Studies, Doctor of Ministry, Doctor of Ministry in Preaching, and various honorary degrees.
Campus and Buildings
The buildings of the College of Arts and Sciences and The School of Theology are constructed of native sandstone, much of it from the Domain. In many cases, they are gifts of benefactors whose names they bear. Dates of construction and rebuilding appear below in parentheses.
Thompson Union (1883; 1901; 1950), which originally housed the medical school, was partially destroyed by fire in 1950. The present structure served as the student union until 1974. It now houses the advancement and records offices for the Office of University Advancement and the Sewanee Union Theatre. Among contributors to the building were the Hon. Jacob Thompson and Mrs. James L. Houghteling.
Convocation Hall (1886) was originally planned for convocations of the University and for meetings of the senate and board of trustees. It served as a library from 1901 to 1965. Breslin Tower, donated by Thomas and Elizabeth Breslin, houses a Seth Thomas clock and chimes given by The Rev. George William Douglas. The tower also houses Sewanee's Bentley Bells, which were made possible by a gift from Mrs. Donne Bentley Wright of Chattanooga. These English change-ringing bells were cast at Whitechapel Bell Foundry of London, England, which was also responsible for Big Ben and our Liberty Bell.
Walsh-Ellett Hall (1890; 1959), the gift of Vincent D. Walsh, was renovated with funds bequeathed by Dr. Edward Coleman Ellett. Classrooms and faculty and administrative offices, including those for the Vice-Chancellor, Provost, and the Dean of the College, are located here.
Fulford Hall (1890), the home of seven vice-chancellors, became the location of admissions, financial aid, and marketing and communication in 1989. It bears the name of a Canadian bishop who participated in the consecration of its first owner, Bishop Charles Todd Quintard of Tennessee.
St. Luke's Chapel (1904), the gift of Mrs. Telfair Hodgson, is a memorial to her husband, a former dean of The School of Theology.
All Saints' Chapel (1905; 1957; 2004) replaced the early wood structure near the present site. It was left incomplete in 1907 and finished over 50 years later. Memorials to alumni, professors, residents, and benefactors are found throughout the building. Shapard Tower, given by the family of Robert P. Shapard, contains a carillon donated in memory of Leonidas Polk, Bishop of Louisiana, by his descendant W. Dudley Gale.
Carnegie Hall (1913) was known for years as Science Hall. The observatory is located here. It now houses the Office of the Treasurer, classrooms, faculty offices, the department of education, studios, and darkrooms. The original donor was Andrew Carnegie. Mrs. J.L. Harris gave the telescope in the observatory, the gift of the General Education Board.
Bairnwick Women’s Center (1930, 1986) hosts lectures, meetings, and the annual Sewanee Conference on Women.
Guerry Hall (1961) honors Dr. Alexander Guerry, vice-chancellor of the University, 1938-48. It contains classrooms, offices, an auditorium and stage, and an art gallery.
The Snowden Forestry Building (1962, 2010) has provided classrooms, laboratories, and a greenhouse for the Department of Forestry and Geology for almost 50 years. A renovation and addition to Snowden Hall, more than doubling its size, opened in summer 2010. The paneling in the rooms and halls of the original building, with the different kinds of wood identified by plaques, remains. The renovation was designed for LEED Gold certification, and includes the use of natural and local materials, recycled materials, daylighting, solar panels, and efficient systems to lower water and energy use.
The Cleveland Memorial (1965), connecting Walsh-Ellett and Carnegie, was given by the family of William D. Cleveland Jr. It houses the offices for the registrar, institutional research, and the dean of students.
The Jessie Ball duPont Library (1965), named for one of the University's most generous benefactors, serves as the hub for access to an enormous array of information resources. The building houses the University's collection of 752,000 print volumes, 330,000 microforms, 10,000 records, tapes, and CDs, and over 13,000 videocassettes and DVDs. As the oldest federal documents depository in the state, beginning in 1873, the library contains 378,000 government publications. The library also provides access to over 507,000 electronic books or texts, over 200 online research databases, and has over 7,000 journal subscriptions, the majority of which are available online.
The library's instructional program consists of a half-credit course in the use of information resources, periodic walk-in research assistance sessions, and custom-designed library instruction on demand for any class taught in the University. In addition, professional reference service is available from the reference staff for 60 of the 106 hours that the library is open weekly, as well as by special appointment at other times. Reference librarians provide all levels of assistance, from brief reference questions to in-depth research guidance.
Academic Technology Services is also located in the Jessie Ball duPont Library building. The ground floor is home to the main campus computing lab for Sewanee students. There are over 50 networked computers, many with advanced multimedia capabilities, available for student use. The Writing Center is also located in the lab and provides a place where students can get help and advice on writing assignments from student tutors. Adjacent to the Writing Center is the Technology Tutoring Center where students can receive help with digital assignments or software problems. In addition, the lab contains two group study rooms and a larger conference room.
Other Academic Technology Services facilities housed in the library include three computer classrooms, a screening room for video, a digital video editing lab, as well as the offices of Academic Technology Services staff. Both faculty and students can reserve media equipment, get help with instructional technology projects, or consult with staff. Academic Technology Services also coordinates and manages all other University electronic classroom equipment and academic computing labs and services as well as student computing services.
Hamilton Hall (1968), including Hamilton Annex (1968) and Hamilton Study Center (1948), is the home of The School of Theology and Sewanee Theological Review, formerly titled "St. Luke's Journal of Theology." The hall and annex were originally built as part of the Sewanee Military Academy and the study center was formerly the SMA barracks.
The J. Albert Woods Laboratories (1968) honors one of the University's most devoted alumni, Class of 1918. The building contains classrooms, laboratories, Blackman Auditorium, and the Waring Webb Greenhouse.
The Bishop's Common (1974, 2008) was constructed with funds secured by alumni, faculty, and friends as a memorial to Bishop Frank A. Juhan of Florida. Containing the Student Post Office, pub, lounges, and game rooms, it serves as the center for campus student activity. The Niles Trammell Communications Center, providing office and studio space for student publications and the radio station, is located in the building. Also located in the building are offices of the deans of students, residential life, and minority affairs.
Emerald-Hodgson Hospital (1976) was planned and built to replace the original Emerald-Hodgson Hospital, now Hodgson Hall.
Clement Chen Hall (1991) was built to replace Fulford Hall as the residence of the vice-chancellor. It was funded by a gift of the late Clement Chen, C'53, and by private donations from members of the board of regents. The residence is also used for a variety of University activities such as receptions, dinners, meetings, lectures, and readings.
The Robert Dobbs Fowler Sport and Fitness Center (1994) incorporates the Frank A. Juhan Gymnasium (1956-57) which, in turn, was built around the older Ormond Simkins building and the Shaffer Gymnasium. The newer part features a varsity basketball court, a swimming pool and diving well, an indoor track, handball courts, workout rooms, coaches' offices, and a classroom. Adjoining the center are the Charlotte Guerry Tennis Courts (1964), the gift of members and friends of the Guerry family. Near the gymnasium are the Eugene O. Harris Stadium and McGee Field.
McGriff Alumni House (1907, 2004), formerly the Phi Delta Theta House, houses the Office of Alumni Relations. Members of the Associated Alumni, all those who attended the University for two or more semesters, are welcome to take advantage of its facilities.
Career & Leadership Development House (1996) provides a spacious area for those who are using career service resources. The building has a career library, offices, and an area where students can access online resources or work on resumes.
Stirling’s Coffee House (1996) hosts art shows and occasional classes. The refurbished Victorian building was named in honor of the late Dr. Edwin Murdoch Stirling, professor of English.
The Tennessee Williams Center (1998) was built around the old Sewanee Military Academy gym. The J. Proctor Hill Theatre, inside the center, is named for a college alumnus who derived great joy from the theatre. A Computer Aided Drafting and Design (CADD) lab offers hardware and software for theatre projects. The facility also includes a dance studio, costume workshop and storage space, performance studio, and scene shop.
The Chapel of the Apostles (2000) was designed by the studios of renowned Arkansan architect E. Fay Jones, and serves as a center of worship for the University's School of Theology, providing an important space for the training of priests. The building seats approximately 200 people and is flexible to meet the varied needs of the liturgies of the Episcopal Church.
Funding for the chapel was aided by an anonymous $1 million donation, as well as a major gift from Paul and Evelyn Howell of Houston, Texas, whose contribution honors Bishop Allin, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, 1973-85.
McClurg Dining Hall (2000) is built completely of native sandstone, and replaced Gailor Hall as the dining facility, which was constructed for just 500 students. McClurg has the capacity to serve three times that number.
McClurg Dining Hall encompasses approximately 42,000 square feet, including a 450-seat formal dining hall, 250-seat informal room, a 150-seat outdoor dining area, as well as four meeting/dining rooms, a kitchen, serving area, lobby, and storage space.
Kappa Sigma House (2003, 2011), formerly the Gilchrist residence and the Kappa Sigma House, has been restored by William Laurie, C'52, to house Special Collections and the University Archives.
The Special Collections department includes a large collection of Sewaneeana and materials written by Sewanee authors, along with about 8,000 rare books from all periods of printing. The rare book collection is particularly strong in southern literature and fine editions of early theological works. The University Archives safeguards a collection of over a half million documents and artifacts relating to the history of the University, the history of the South, and the development of the Episcopal Church in the South.
University Archives and Special Collections moved to their newly-constructed site next door to the duPont Library in the summer of 2011. The new site incorporated the former Kappa Sigma House creating approximately 10,000 square feet of secure, climate-controlled space housing the University's rich collections of rare books, fine art, manuscripts, artifacts, and archival records. This space includes a museum space for exhibitions as well as a reading room where students and scholars can study the collections more closely.
Gailor Hall (1952, 2005) With a renovation completed in 2005, the Gailor Center for Literature and Languages became home to the University’s English literature department, as well as those of its foreign languages. In addition, it houses the offices of the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference, the School of Letters, and the Sewanee Review. The building has 13 seminar and lecture classrooms as well as 36 offices.
Nabit Art Building (2005) This facility, located off of Georgia Avenue, houses Sewanee's studio art program including sculpture, painting, and drawing. Featuring large, airy studios with abundant natural lighting, the facility also offers exhibition space for viewing of student's completed works. Gifts from Mary Kay and Charles Nabit, C'77; The Rather Family; Ginny and Jeff Runge, C'77, in memory of Howard Felt; and Friends of Sewanee in honor of Ed Carlos made the project a reality.
Spencer Hall (2008) The 47,000-square-foot Spencer Hall addition to Woods Laboratory opened for the Fall 2008 semester, and ushered in a new era for the University’s historic commitment to the sciences. Named for William Spencer, C’41, the facility greatly expanded classrooms and laboratories for environmental science and chemistry, while also creating space for the biochemistry major. The building’s façade blends with the gothic architecture of Sewanee’s main academic quadrangle. The building was designed with environmental concerns in mind, also capturing ample opportunity to put science on display inside.
Residence halls: Hodgson (1877; 1950), Emery (1916), Hoffman (1922), Elliott, formerly the Sewanee Inn (1922), Cannon (1925, 2012), Johnson (1926), Tuckaway (1930), Phillips (1951), Quintard (1900, 1994), Gorgas (1952), Hunter (1953), Cleveland (1955), Benedict (1963), McCrady (1964), Courts (1965), Trezevant (1969), and Wiggins (1967; 1997). Humphreys Hall (2003) is named in honor of alumnus David Humphreys, C’79, and his wife, Debra, who provided a gift to help make the project a reality. St. Luke's Hall (1878; 1951; 1956-57; 2006) formerly housed The School of Theology, which in 1984, moved to Hamilton Hall. St. Luke's also housed the Sewanee Review, classrooms and faculty offices for the College of Arts and Sciences, and Grosvenor Auditorium, which, in 2005, moved to Gailor Hall. The original building was a gift of an early benefactor, Mrs. Charlotte Morris Manigault. Lucy T. & Herbert E. Smith Hall (2013) is named in honor of Lucy T. & Herbert E. Smith. A bequest from the Smith Family of Birmingham helped Sewanee move closer to its goals for new residence life.
The Sewanee Inn (reconstructed 2014) features 43 tastefully appointed guest rooms and suites, over 8,000 square feet of event space including conference and dining rooms, a full-service lounge, and access to Sewanee's redesigned nine-hole golf course.
The Sewanee-Franklin County Airport facilities include a 50' x 3,700' paved runway, community and individual aircraft hangars, offices, a pilot supply shop, a flight planning area with wireless internet, a meeting room, and a ground-school classroom. Services include aircraft rental, basic, instrument, and aerobatic instruction.