Bran Potter discusses pyroclastic flows at Frijoles Canyon near Bandelier National Monument.

Recognizing a powerful legacy of field education on the occasion of the retirement of an exemplary practitioner, Bran Potter, a group of “Friends of Cindy and Bran Potter,” led by Scott Weber, C’94, of Houston, Texas, are in the process of establishing a new endowment that will support field studies within Sewanee’s Department of Earth and Environmental Systems. The CINDY & BRAN POTTER FIELD STUDIES ENDOWMENT will be used to support students by paying for field experiences in both departmental courses and independent study, including trips to areas around the country and throughout the world. 

“I really hope that those who are managing this fund in the future keep it flexible and make sure that students know that support for field studies is available to them,” says Potter. “Even though I led a Western Geology field course for decades, I don’t think of this fund as being attached to a particular course or field experience. Student needs related to all kinds of field study should be the guiding factor for deploying this fund.”

While Potter recognizes that the new fund is named in his honor, he thinks the more important inspiration for the fund is the needs of students. “I noticed that on the very first Western trip there were people with literally no money. They wanted to attend, and I wanted them there, and we found a way to make it happen. The class was enlivened by their presence, and whatever investment was made was well worth it.”

Cindy and Bran Potter’s old Subaru long sported a bumper sticker with a quotation from Thoreau, “Surely joy is the condition of life.” That joy has made them touchstones of the Sewanee experience for many students for decades and transformed the University and the community. The endowment that the Friends of Cindy and Bran Potter are creating will promote that relational, experiential whole cloth of education that is animated by joy and care. As Robin Rotman, C’04, puts it, “Bran and Cindy Potter teach and live from a place of curiosity, authenticity, and compassion. I am so grateful for all that they have poured into me, in geology field studies and myriad other ways. It is my joy to be able to contribute to this endowment in their honor and for the benefit of future Sewanee students.”

To read more about the Potters’ many contributions to Sewanee and field education, read the feature article, “The Potter Effect,” by clicking this link:

If you would like to make a gift to the Cindy and Bran Potter Fund, contact Scott Smith by clicking this link.