The annual Launching of the New Year took place as a livestreamed event on Tuesday, Aug. 18. The event each year allows the vice-chancellor and student leaders to share news and aspirations for the coming year.
The annual Launching of the New Year took place as a livestreamed event on Tuesday, Aug. 18. A limited audience was allowed in All Saints’ Chapel to experience the occasion in person, and other locations on campus were available to watch the livestream with others. (Social distancing and masking were of course enforced at each venue.)
The event each year allows the vice-chancellor and student leaders to share news and aspirations for the coming year.
In her opening remarks, Order of the Gown President Mandy Tu, C’21, recalled struggling to find her place when she arrived at Sewanee. In the end, she created her place here. “…[T]hat process of creation, and the blood, sweat, and tears that went into it … brought me my community.”
What does it mean to be here, on this Mountain, this year—in the midst of a global pandemic, in the ongoing fight against racial injustice, in an election year? Tu asked the campus community to look out for one another, raise their voices for the things that matter, and work together to “create a place where everyone, everyone, who passes through our Gates can feel that they belong here.”
University Chaplain Peter Gray offered a prayer and introduced Vice-Chancellor Reuben Brigety.
Brigety began by expressing his gratitude to all of the staff and faculty whose work made it possible for students to return to Sewanee this fall for a residential educational experience. He acknowledged the many challenges facing the University, the community, and the nation.
“In times like these, I have found that at least two things remain true,” said Brigety. “First, we must put first things first. We must tend to our mental, physical, and spiritual health on a priority basis. … Second, we must continue to embrace community. Our community helps to strengthen us when we are weak and encourage us when we are discouraged.”
Although the coronavirus has changed our usual habits and routines, “it need not prevent us from finding new ways of showing love, compassion, and concern to those who need it—which is to say, all of us.”
The vice-chancellor briefly highlighted two items for consideration in this new academic year. He called for this academic year to be a “Year of Discernment” for the entire Sewanee community (“the Sewaniverse”)—faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members. We will consider four themes together, and determine whether those topics will be the objects of our collective efforts over the next five years.
Also this year, the University will celebrate 55 years of African American alumni. A series of events is planned for this fall and winter, culminating in a celebration during the last weekend in February.
“For now, please just take care of yourselves,” Brigety concluded. “Take care of each other. And we will get through this most challenging of semesters with grit and grace.”
University Chancellor Rob Skirving closed the Launch event with the University Prayer.