Commencement exercises return to the Quad, to All Saints’ Chapel and its traditional Mother’s Day weekend date.
To conclude the 2021-22 academic year, the University held three ceremonies to mark graduation weekend on the Mountain.
An honorary degree was presented to the Rt. Rev. Dr. Glenda S. Curry during the School of Theology Commencement on Friday. Bishop Curry also gave the baccalaureate address at the University’s Baccalaureate ceremony on Saturday.
On Sunday, the College of Arts and Sciences held a Convocation for the Conferring of Degrees to five graduates of the School of Letters (all in absentia) and 404 undergraduates.
Chaplain Peter Gray welcomed the Class of 2022 invoking the University motto, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is when kindred dwell together.” He reminded the graduates that the psalm reads how good it is, it doesn’t read how easy it is. Gray went on to describe their time on the Mountain as, like music, a mix of both harmony and conflict of dissonance and resolve of high points and heartache. He concluded, “Class of 2022, it has not always been easy to dwell together, learn together, grow together. But it has always been good.
Ian Michael Kusher, a biology major from South Carolina gave the traditional salutatory in Latin, addressing the acting vice-chancellor, faculty, and the audience before concluding with the University motto “Ecce Quam Bonum.”
Acting Provost Scott Wilson then announced the awards and honors for academic excellence in various disciplines, athletic achievement, and community service. Following those announcements, the acting provost then asked Alexis Grace Elise McKnight and Lakeisha Allyah Phillips (right) to come forward to receive the 2022 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Medallion for character, leadership, and service to the University and the Sewanee community. McKnight and Phillips, both from Tennessee, received loud applause from the faculty and their classmates in All Saints’ Chapel and from family members and guests on the Quad as Acting Vice-Chancellor Nancy Berner presented the awards, “the most distinguished award for a graduating senior.”
Claire Alese Smith, an anthropology major from Mississippi, offered the Valedictory address. She recalled visiting Sewanee for the first time in a thick fog, peering out the car window to help her mother navigate. They had no idea what lay ahead of them on the road. Likewise, Smith shared, upon starting college she and her classmates had no idea that so much uncertainty would be packed into four short years. Yet, at Sewanee, “each of us found people to hold onto—our friends, our teammates, our professors, our families, and communities back home. We continued to grow, together.” She closed with confidence in knowing, “if there is anything that I know all of us have learned at Sewanee, it is how to survive in uncertainty, and how to find guidance for our futures by looking at our past. It is how to enter the world knowing that there is a community of people behind us, even as we strike out on our own road.”
Following the address, Dean of the College Terry Papillon read each graduate’s name and the vice-chancellor presented each diploma on the stage. The backdrop for the presentations was an array of the flags of each of the eight countries represented in the College graduating class: Brazil, China, Egypt, Great Britain, Hungary, Rwanda, Viet Nam, and the United States.
Before reading the University's charge to the "chosen and now honored youths," Acting Vice-Chancellor Berner spoke very briefly to the class. She recognized the challenges this particular class faced during the pandemic and made sure to thank the graduates and their families for their perseverance and the part they played in keeping the University open for an on-campus experience.
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 2022.