Sewanee (officially, "The University of the South"') is a national liberal arts university in Sewanee, Tennessee. Admission is highly selective. It was founded in 1857.
Sewanee comprised an undergraduate College of Arts and Sciences enrolling 1,400 students, a respected graduate School of Theology of the Episcopal Church with 80 students and an extensive extension and continuing education program. It sponsors an innovative summer master's degree program in English and Creative Writing through the School of Letters that serves 42 students. The Sewanee Writers' Conference is one of the preeminent conferences in the country, attracting nationally known novelists, poets, and playwrights.
With a full-time faculty of 134 professors, the undergraduate college offers 36 majors, 32 minors and 15 special programs, and pre-professional programs in medicine, health, law and business. The University is home to The Sewanee Review, America's oldest literary quarterly. In 2009 there were 360 graduating seniors and 39 graduates of the School of Theology. Sid Brown, Associate Professor of Religion and chair, Environmental Studies, was recognized by the Society of Sewanee Scholars as the Teacher of the Year for 2008-09. The average salary for full professors in 2008-9 was $96,200; full-time instructors started at $55,000. The president's salary in 2006 was $228,000.
The campus, residential areas, the village of Sewanee, lakes, forests, and surrounding bluffs comprise a tract of 13,000 acres owned by the school and called "The Domain". The endowment was $313 million and the annual budget is $67 million.
Sewanee is the only university in the nation that is owned and governed by the Episcopal Church, specifically the 28 dioceses of the southeastern United States. It is governed by its approximately 150-member Board of Trustees, most of whom are elected from the owning dioceses, and by the 20-member Board of Regents, which operates as the executive board of the trustees. The Vice Chancellor and President serves as the chief executive officer of the University and is also the mayor of the town of Sewanee with a population of 2,500. The Chancellor, elected from among the bishops of the owning dioceses, serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees and, together with the Vice Chancellor is a member of the Board of Regents.
A search is underway in summer 2009 for a new Vice Chancellor/President to succeed incumbent Joel Cunningham, who will retire in June 2010
The Civil War delayed the opening until 1868, when it welcomed nine students and four faculty. In 1878, the Episcopal Church formally opened the seminary; it was part of the "High Church" wing of the denomination and was well known for its elaborate religious rituals. By 1900 By Sewannee comprised a preparatory school (since closed), a college, and seminary programs. Gothic architecture was the style in 1875-1915 when nine major stone buildings were constructed; historical restoration has kept the campus a place of pilgrimage for many Episcopalians. Women students were first admitted in 1969.
During Cunningham’s tenure, 2000-2009, Sewanee saw record numbers of applications to the College, growth in the influence and reach of the School of Theology, and increasing recognition as a leading national liberal arts university. The Sewanee Call fundraising campaign came to a record-breaking conclusion in June 2008 with over $205.7 million in gifts and commitments. The campaign was marked by increased resources for scholarships, extensive facility construction, and the addition of 3,000 acres in Lost Cove to the University’s landholdings.
The most popular majors are Art History, Economics, English, History, Political Science, and Psychology. Tuition is $34,200 for 2009-10; 60% of the student body receives some type of financial aid.
Surveys of undergraduates by the Princeton Review indicate that Sewanee is ranked #15 in the country for "Lots of Hard Liquor," and #20 for Most Beautiful Campus. It competes for students with Rhodes College in Memphis, Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Davidson College in North Carolina, and Furman University in South Carolina.
Since 1873, students in the Order of Gownsmen have worn academic gowns to class. Currently, 363 of the 1,436 students on campus are members of the order, which is open to students who meet grade-point-average and volunteer-hour requirements. About a fourth of the members choose to wear long black robes to class; some are handed down by generation.
Racial issues caused Kenyon College in Ohio to cancel its away football game against Sewanee in 1949, indicating future conflicts over the status of blacks in the Episcopal Church and the nation. A prior "gentleman's agreement" had kept African Americans out of football, but now Kenyon had two blacks on its team. Sewanee College agreed to play the game, but its athletic director refused to have dinner with the officials at Kenyon after the game. Feeling insulted and hoping to avoid both violence and "embarrassments," Kenyon's president canceled the game, causing controversy within the Episcopal Church over the status of blacks at denominational colleges.
Sewanee boasts 25 Rhodes Scholars over the years (fourth place among liberal arts colleges)--as well as 26 NCAA Postgraduate Fellows, 36 Watson Fellows, and dozens of Fulbright Scholars. The School of Theology makes bishops, including three of the last four presiding bishops of the Episcopal Church.
Prominent alumni include historian and journalist Jon Meacham, class of 1991, who won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for his biography American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House.
Thad Andress, scion of a pioneer family in his native Minden, Louisiana, graduated in 1954 from Sewanee. M. V. Hargrove, a physician-politician from Allen Parish, Louisiana, obtained his degree in 1904. Thomas Ewing Dabney, an editor, politician, and diplomat, graduated in 1905.