Author Marilynne Robinson to give Convocation address

marilynne robinson

Opening Convocation for the Easter semester will be held Jan. 18 in All Saints’ Chapel. Honorary degrees will be presented and new members will be inducted into the Order of Gownsmen. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson will give the Convocation address and will receive an honorary degree. Stan Brock, the Rt. Rev. Jacob W. Owensby and the Rt. Rev. John McKee Sloan will also receive honorary degrees during the Convocation.

Watch the Convocation streamed live here.

Marilynne Robinson (right) is a professor of creative writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the author of three highly acclaimed novels: Housekeeping (1980), Gilead (2004) and Home (2008). Born and raised in Sandpoint, Idaho, Robinson graduated from Brown University and started writing her first novel, Housekeeping, while in the graduate program in English at the University of Washington. Robinson has served as writer-in-residence and visiting professor at many colleges and universities, including the University of Kent in England and Amherst College. Her second book, Mother Country: Britain, The Welfare State and Nuclear Pollution (1988), evolved from an essay that she wrote for Harper’s Review and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her most recent collection of essays, When I Was a Child I Read Books, was published in March 2012. Housekeeping was a finalist for the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Gilead was awarded the 2005 Pulitzer, and Home received the 2009 Orange Prize for Fiction. While on campus, Robinson will meet with students and faculty, and will give a reading at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17.

Stan Brock is the founder and president of Remote Area Medical, Inc. (RAM), a corps of volunteers providing free medical, visual, dental, and veterinary care to uninsured and under-insured individuals in the U.S. and the developing world. An Englishman by birth, Brock spent 15 years with the Wapishana Indians in the Central Amazon Basin, becoming general manager of the world's largest tropical cattle ranch. He is a bush pilot and former star of the popular television program “Wild Kingdom.” Brock’s experiences living and working in the Amazon basin, witnessing the suffering of those without access to medical services, inspired him to create RAM in 1985. RAM clinics are held in the U.S. and worldwide, and have inspired more than 70,000 volunteers to provide care to more than a half million people. A clinic at Sewanee last May served more than 500 of our neighbors.


The Rt. Rev. Jacob W. Owensby, Ph.D., T’97, was ordained on July 21 as the fourth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana. Owensby served as dean of St. Mark’s Cathedral, the seat of the Western Louisiana diocese, since January 2009. He previously served as rector of Emmanuel Church, Webster Groves, Mo.; as rector of St. Stephen’s Church, Huntsville, Ala.; and as assistant rector at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Jacksonville, Fla.  He holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in philosophy from Emory University, and a master of divinity degree from The School of Theology at the University of the South. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1997.


The Rt. Rev. John McKee Sloan, T’81, currently serves as bishop of the Diocese of Alabama. A native of Vicksburg, Miss., Sloan received his bachelor of science degree in sociology from Mississippi State University in 1976 and his master of divinity degree from The School of Theology at the University of the South in 1981. Sloan’s previous service to the Church includes calls to parishes in Mississippi and Alabama as curate, chaplain, and rector. He is an active participant in programs that support people with mental and physical disabilities. In the national Church, he is a member of the standing commission for liturgy and music. Sloan and his wife, Tina Brown Sloan, have two children, McKee, C’11, and Mary Nell, a freshman at the University of Montevallo.

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