Opening Convocation for the Easter semester will be held at noon Friday, Jan. 17, in All Saints’ Chapel. Honorary degrees will be presented and new members will be inducted into the Order of Gownsmen. Louise Cowan, author and education pioneer, will give the Convocation address and will receive an honorary degree. Poet, author and professor Marilyn Nelson will also receive an honorary degree during the Convocation, and will give a poetry reading on Thursday, Jan. 16.
Convocation will be streamed live for those who are unable to attend. Watch it here.
Louise Shillingburg Cowan (right) has had a distinguished career in education. She is a professor emerita at the University of Dallas, served as dean of the Graduate School there, founded the Institute of Philosophic Studies (the university’s doctoral program), and co-founded the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. As a doctoral student at Vanderbilt, Cowan was invited to become the official historian of the Fugitive Group, poets and scholars who published The Fugitive, one of the most influential publications in American letters. The curriculum Cowan devised at the University of Dallas, with literature at its center, has been acclaimed for its advancement of learning in the liberal education tradition. The author of numerous articles and books, Cowan is best known for her teaching and her impact on students, continuing to teach into her 90s. President George H.W. Bush bestowed upon Cowan the nation’s highest award for achievement in the humanities, the Charles Frankel Prize. She was honored by Laura Bush in 2001 for the establishment of The Teachers Academy at the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, and has been named to a list of the 20 most brilliant living Christian professors.
Marilyn Rae Nelson (left) is a poet, translator, author, and professor emerita at the University of Connecticut. She is the author or translator of more than a dozen books for audiences of children, young adults, and adults. Her books include The Homeplace, The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems, and Carver: A Life in Poems. Her book A Wreath for Emmett Till presents 15 interlinked sonnets to pay tribute to Emmitt Till, a 14-year-old African American boy who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 for whistling at a white woman, and whose murderers were acquitted. Nelson served as the Connecticut Poet Laureate from 2001 to 2006, and she is currently poet-in-residence at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City. She taught at Sewanee as a Brown Foundation Fellow during the 2011 Easter semester, co-creating a course that addressed poetry, spirituality, and the environment. She has received many honors, including two Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, the Poets’ Prize, the Printz Honor Award, three Coretta Scott King Honor Awards, and the 2012 Poetry Society of America’s Frost Medal for her “distinguished lifetime service to American poetry.”