The University of the South's 2023-24 academic year came to a close on May 12 with commencement exercises for the College of Arts and Sciences.

On Sunday, May 12, the College of Arts and Sciences held a Convocation for the Conferring of Degrees to 415 undergraduates. Convocation Bulletin.

University Chaplain Peter Gray opened the service by welcoming the Class of 2024 and offering thanks: “My friends, as we gather this morning, I have one thought: ‘Thank God.’ By that I mean, not just ‘Thank God, you made it’ or ‘Thank God, they’re leaving.’ No, I mean ‘Thank God the Class of 2024 will go out these chapel doors and into the wide world because that world needs you.’ Every ounce of your wisdom, every ounce of your character, every ounce of your love. The world needs repairers of the breach. Thank God the world gets you.”

The traditional Latin greeting was offered by Elizabeth Claire Langford of Alabama, the immediate past president of the Student Government Association.

Acting Provost Scott Wilson announced that the recipient of the James D. Kennedy III, C’73, Endowed Faculty Fellowship is Assistant Professor of Politics Sidney Simpson. The fellowship, established in 2001 by the Kennedy Foundation of Chattanooga, supports early-career faculty in the College during their formative years.

Wilson then announced the student awards and honors for academic excellence in various disciplines, athletic achievement, and community service. This year's Dean’s Scholars, select seniors who have explored and discovered, pushed boundaries and taken risks, all in the pursuit of learning and growth, are: Rebecca Gayle Cole, Meridith Carter Frazee, Máté Patrik Garai, Silas Sabado McClung, and Adri Elle Silva. See the complete list of 2024 awards and prizes.

Acting Provost Wilson then asked Patricia Ramírez Miranda to come forward to receive the 2024 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Medallion for character, leadership, and service to the University and the Sewanee community. Ramírez, from Puerto Rico, received loud applause from the faculty and her classmates in All Saints’ Chapel as Vice-Chancellor Rob Pearigen presented the top undergraduate award given during Commencement.

For the first time in Sewanee history, the winner of the Sullivan Medallion, instead of the class’s valedictorian, was designated to deliver the Senior Oration. Ramírez stepped to the podium and addressed her classmates—most of whom entered Sewanee at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in fall 2020—to remind them of the challenges they had overcome together. “When I think back about our first year here, it feels surreal,” she said. “I refuse to believe that we had to get tested for Covid every week at Fowler Center. But yes, we did, and we prevailed together.” She then noted that members of the class were becoming Sewanee alumni who will play a role in setting a course for the University into the future. Noting recent college closures and threats to academic institutions across the country, Ramírez urged her classmates to work to keep Sewanee true to its mission of educating students in the liberal arts and to preserve the institution’s academic traditions for future generations. “We must join committees and give our input as recent graduates who have experienced firsthand the issues our institution faces,” she said. “Donate money to programs you cherish. Host internship opportunities for students. Be the person who comes back to campus four times a year to network or socialize. Whatever you do, remember to give back to this community.” Read full remarks here.

Following Ramírez's address, Interim Dean of the College Betsy Sandlin read each graduate’s name, and Vice-Chancellor Pearigen presented each diploma.

Before reading the University's charge to the "chosen and now honored youths," Vice-Chancellor Pearigen recognized the Class of 2024 as "my first as vice-chancellor".

After the singing of the alma mater, the faculty procession led the way out of All Saints’ Chapel and into the traditional applause line along University Avenue to congratulate the Class of 2024.

See photos and watch the Commencement video.

Other Commencement Services

The School of Theology

The seminary will graduate 27 students receiving varying diplomas and degrees from Vice-Chancellor Pearigen. The Rt. Rev. Frank Logue, the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia, will deliver the sermon and receive an honorary doctor of divinity degree. The Rt. Rev. Daniel Paul Richards, the ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina, and the Rt. Rev. Peter Eaton, the fourth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, will also receive honorary doctor of divinity degrees.

Baccalaureate Service

On Saturday, May 11, theologian Christoph Keller III delivered the baccalaureate address. Rev. Keller and The Rt. Rev. Susan Bunton Haynes, the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia and the diocese’s first female diocesan bishop, both received an honorary doctor of divinity degree.