Vice-Chancellor Reuben Brigety has announced that he will resign effective Dec. 21, in light of the duty he would feel to accept a nomination by President Joe Biden to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the Republic of South Africa.

Vice-Chancellor Reuben Brigety has announced that he will be resigning in light of the duty he would feel to accept a nomination by President Joe Biden to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the Republic of South Africa. Recent news reports have suggested the nomination is forthcoming. 

Brigety shared his decision with the Sewanee community in a joint announcement with Board of Regents Chair Reid Funston and Chancellor of the University and Chair of the Board of Trustees the Rt. Rev. Robert Skirving. In his message to the Sewanee community, Brigety wrote, “Having concluded that I would accept this nomination if it were offered and that it would be unfair to prolong any uncertainty at the University, I have informed the Board of Regents of this decision and tendered my resignation as vice-chancellor effective at the conclusion of this semester, on Dec. 21.”

In their message, Funston and Skirving wrote, “Vice-Chancellor Brigety has made a decision that saddens us even as it only increases our respect for him. He has simultaneously put service to Sewanee and service to his country first, accepting the risks of national decision-making even as he honors Sewanee with candor about his decision and allows the University to transition to new leadership. We are grateful to him and hope that he is nominated and, if so, that his confirmation is successful.”  

Funston and Skirving noted Sewanee’s significant achievements under Brigety’s leadership. “For the past 18 months, Reuben has led the University through an extraordinary time,” they wrote. “He has guided Sewanee through the significant challenges posed by a global pandemic in a manner that allowed our students a safe return to the Mountain for an on-campus experience in a year unlike any other. ... [In addition,] he has established a bold vision for student success, diversity, and economic development that charts an ambitious and sustainable path for Sewanee’s future. As Regents, we have been proud to embrace and support his vision and initiatives, and we remain fully committed to a path forward that will best position the University to thrive in the future.”

In sharing the news, Brigety stressed the impact that Sewanee has had on him. “Sewanee’s story is an American one,” he wrote, “of vital ideals calling it forward, of profound challenges and stronger determination. Leelie and I will forever be grateful for the kindness, generosity, and graciousness shown to us by the Sewanee community, and for the many new friends we have made across the ‘Sewaneeverse.’ Ecce Quam Bonum.” He added, “For the rest of our days, we will hold the Mountain in our hearts.”

Funston and Skirving also announced that consistent with ordinances of the University, Provost Nancy Berner will assume the office of vice-chancellor pro tempore effective on Brigety’s specified date of resignation, Dec. 21. They added, “As we contemplate our transition planning beyond this decision, the Regents will consult carefully with the broader Sewanee community and establish a plan that will lay out thoughtfully and deliberately the next best steps for our University, including the appropriate steps to identify a search process for our 18th vice-chancellor. We will keep the University community informed as we resolve these matters.” 

Brigety was named Sewanee’s 17th vice-chancellor and president on Feb. 28, 2020, following a national search. He previously had served as dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University and is a former U.S. ambassador to the African Union.