December 10, 2021
Dear University Community,
It was good to see many of you at the reception earlier this week celebrating Vice-Chancellor Brigety’s contributions to the University. The Board of Regents, the Vice-Chancellor’s Cabinet, and leaders of several student groups offered their thanks to and well wishes for the Brigetys publicly while many others were able to greet Reuben, Leelie, and their sons, Roebel and Redda, in an impromptu receiving line. As we expressed our gratitude to Vice-Chancellor Brigety, he also gave his heartfelt thanks to each member of the community. You may read his remarks here.
The Board of Regents recognizes that Reuben’s pending departure has generated some concerns around the transition of leadership and how that might affect the University’s priorities. To begin to address some of these concerns, we met early this week with faculty, staff, and student trustees, several elected representatives of the College student body, and members of the VC’s Cabinet. The Board of Regents recognizes how important it is for us to hear your questions/comments and address them as best we can.
Our intent is to communicate as transparently as possible as we move forward in this transition. So, in that spirit and recognizing that there are decisions still to be made, we offer this update:
Due to the sensitive nature of the announcement and the timing complications caused by circulating news stories, it was only this week that the Board of Regents was able to hold its first full meeting since learning of Reuben’s decision to resign. At our meeting, we began to outline a plan for interim leadership, including the possibility of appointing an acting vice-chancellor, and to discuss the process of identifying the University’s 18th vice-chancellor. We expect to provide an update on both of these topics after the first of the year.
Between now and then, as announced on Dec. 1, Provost Nancy Berner will assume the role of vice-chancellor pro tempore. The Board of Regents have every confidence in Nancy, who has served as provost since 2017, who served five years as associate provost before that, and who has been a faculty member in the Department of Biology for more than 25 years. Nancy, together with the senior leadership of the Vice-Chancellor's Cabinet, is eminently capable of managing the University’s day-to-day business and continuing to make progress toward our strategic objectives.
Continuing the planning that was already underway upon his arrival and in preparation for the demographic realities that will affect student recruitment beginning in 2026, Vice-Chancellor Brigety affirmed an ambitious, inspirational, and sustainable path for Sewanee’s future. The Board of Regents endorses these strategic priorities and is committed to supporting the operational initiatives that have already been launched and those that will result from the strategic planning process.
The University Priorities are:
- Student Success: developing plans to help more students flourish and to improve student retention.
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: developing plans to make Sewanee a more vibrant, equitable community where all people feel that they belong.
- Economic Development and Domain Stewardship: developing plans to enhance the livelihood of the community, steward the natural resources of the Domain, and develop new revenue streams for the University.
- Curricular Renewal and Innovation: developing plans to reform the curriculum in order to enhance high-impact practices, appeal to the changing student population, and efficiently use resources.
While unexpected leadership changes can be challenging and may create anxiety, we reiterate our confidence in the leadership team currently in place and the work on strategic priorities currently underway. We are committed to working closely and transparently with the Sewanee community to move the University forward. We appreciate your patience and welcome your input as we work through this transition together.