The University Baccalaureate service—the second of three Commencement weekend ceremonies—took place on Saturday, May 13 in All Saints’ Chapel.

The University Baccalaureate service was held Saturday morning, May 13, in All Saints’ Chapel. 

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Jacob Owensby, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana, who was elected by the Board of Trustees in December 2022, was installed as the University's 26th chancellor. The inaugural Sewanee Medal was presented to Reid Funston, C'86. Finally, writer Margaret E. Renkl received an honorary doctor of letters degree and delivered a baccalaureate address. Her remarks appeared in the New York Times on May 15 and can also be read here.

Rt. Rev. Dr. JaCob Owensby, T'97, installed as the Sewanee's 26th Chancellor

The Rt. Rev. Brian R. Seage, bishop of Mississippi, presented the Rt. Rev. Dr. Jacob Owensby to representative members of the Board of Trustees to be formally installed as the University of the South's 26th chancellor. After pledging to faithfully execute the duties of his office, Chancellor Owensby reminded the Class of 2023, that Ecce Quam Bonum "Behold how good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity" is more than just the University's motto. It is the aspiration that governs and motivates not only our shared experience on the Mountain but also an aspiration that sends you out into a fractured world and asks you to be a inspiration to it.

Reid Funston, C'86, awarded the inaugural Sewanee medal 

Established by the Board of Regents, the Sewanee Medal recognizes service to the University of the South by alumni, faculty, staff, community members, parents, and friends of the University. Extraordinary service to the life of the University may include teaching, administration, management, generosity, leadership, and innovation. Those receiving the Sewanee Medal are examples of outstanding, transforming, and lasting service to the University.

Reid Funston, C'86, is the first recipient of the Sewanee Medal. He has served the University as a member of the College Visiting Committee, as a member of the Board of Trustees, and as a member of the Board of Regents. In 2019, he was elected chair of the Board of Regents, serving during the outbreak and the first 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, working closely with the administration to keep the University open with in-person classes. In the fall of 2021, at the end of his six-year term as a member of the Board of Regents and his two-year term as chair, he was elected to serve an additional one-year term as a non-regent chair of the board. During this time, Vice-Chancellor Reuben Brigety resigned in order to ultimately be appointed as the U.S. ambassador to the Republic of South Africa. Funston led the University during this period of transition, which led to the appointment of Provost Nancy Berner as acting vice-chancellor. Funston’s calm demeanor, steady hand, and confident manner provided exceptional leadership and service to Sewanee during an unprecedented, demanding, and consequential period in the University’s history.

Nancy Berner's transitional leadership Recognized  

In an unscripted moment before the ceremony ended, Board of Regents Chair Jim Folds, C'86, recognized Acting Vice-Chancellor Nancy Berner for her service to the University. Berner was named vice-chancellor pro tempore in December 2021 and then appointed acting vice-chancellor in January 2022. Folds, joined by Chancellor Owensby and former Board of Regents Chair Reid Funston, and, on behalf of the entire Sewanee community, thanked Berner for her steadfast leadership, her patience, her wisdom, and her selfless devotion to the role of vice-chancellor and president.

Baccalaureate Service Media

Below are links to the service bulletin, the livestream recording, and photos from the weekend.