Sewanee celebrated Founders’ Day Oct. 9 with the traditional Convocation and awarding of honorary degrees, the installation of a Provost, the induction of almost 200 new undergraduate members into the Order of Gownsmen, and an address by Jenny McConnachie.
Vice-Chancellor John McCardell opened the Convocation with the announcement of the trustees’ election of the Rt. Rev. Samuel Johnson (John) Howard, Bishop of the Diocese of Florida, as the 24th Chancellor of the University. Bishop Howard was formally installed during a Eucharist service Oct. 10.
In the University’s traditional Latin ceremony, John Swallow, C’89, was installed as Provost of the University.
Academic awards and prizes were announced by the Provost, along with three faculty chair positions: the Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander was named the Charles Todd Quintard Professor of Dogmatic Theology, the Rev. Dr. James F. Turrell was named the Norma and Olan Mills Professor of Divinity, and Dr. Fredrick Hailey Croom was named the Gaston Swindell Bruton Professor of Mathematics.
The University conferred honorary degrees upon three people who have led lives of exemplary service to the broad Episcopal Church. Christopher Bryan, C. K. Benedict Professor of New Testament at Sewanee’s School of Theology, received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree; W. Brown Patterson, C’52, Francis S. Houghteling Professor of History emeritus, received an honorary Doctor of Letters; and Jenny McConnachie, one of the longest-serving Episcopal missionaries in the Church’s history, received an honorary Doctor of Canon Law. See more about Bryan, Patterson, and McConnachie here.
Vice-Chancellor McCardell noted in his introduction of McConnachie the numerous connections between Sewanee and her work, and she echoed that sentiment in her remarks.
McConnachie recounted the journey that led her to spend 33 years as a missionary in South Africa. The careers of Jenny McConnachie, a nurse, and her physician husband, Chris, took them from London to Canada, South Africa, and then to North Carolina, where they settled and began raising a family. But, McConnachie said, “Africa kept beckoning.” The couple realized that in order to make a sustainable difference in the living and health conditions in the Eastern Cape region, their family would need to make Africa their home. So with five children and two Newfoundland dogs, they settled permanently in South Africa and began the African Medical Mission. The Episcopal Church provided both the financial and spiritual support that made it possible for them to stay in Africa.
McConnachie named several Sewanee students, family members, and faculty volunteers who helped her efforts in South Africa over the years. She closed by urging the students to follow their dreams, have faith, and “don’t be too sensible.”