The Search Committee for Sewanee's 18th Vice-Chancellor

The Vice-Chancellor Search Committee includes members from the Board of Regents and Board of Trustees, distinguished faculty from the arts, sciences, humanities, and School of Theology, College staff and student representatives. This group brings together over six decades of distinct and treasured Sewanee experiences.

The Search Committee will be supported in its efforts by WittKieffer, a global search firm that specializes in higher education and has extensive experience recruiting for select liberal arts institutions.

Learn more about the committee members below.

Search Committee Co-Chairs

Mary Claire Shipp Murphy, C'82

Mary Claire Shipp Murphy serves as the vice president of external relations of Textron Inc. in Washington, D.C. A 1982 graduate of the College with a degree in English, Mary Claire was a member of the Order of the Gown and a member and officer of the Theta Kappa Phi sorority. Two of her daughters are also Sewanee graduates—Mary Carlton “M.C.”, C’17, and Sarah Virginia “Ginnie”, C’21. During her career, Mary Claire has held various senior management roles within the telecommunications industry, and has also served in public service positions in the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of State. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Military Child Education Coalition, the National Aeronautic Association, the Atlantic Council, the Executive Council on Diplomacy, and the Textron Charitable Trust. As an alumna, she serves as a member of the Board of Regents and has been a member of the Parents’ Council.

The Rev. Katie Curran Pearson, C'89, T'17

The Rev. Katie Curran Pearson serves as canon pastor at Saint John’s Cathedral in Denver, Colorado. A 1989 graduate of the College with a degree in English, Katie was a member of the Order of the Gown, a proctor, and a member and officer of Phi Kappa Epsilon sorority. Katie earned her Master of Divinity degree from The Iliff School of Theology and her Diploma of Anglican Studies from Sewanee’s School of Theology. Her husband, Don, graduated from Sewanee in 1986, and they have three children who are also Sewanee alumni: William, C'16, Bess, C'18, and Owen, C'20. In the 30-plus years since her graduation, Katie has been a high school English teacher, an engaged volunteer, an active lay leader in the church, and a later-in-life priest. She serves on the Episcopal Church in Colorado’s Commission on Ministry and as Chaplain for the Colorado Assembly of Daughters of the King. As an alumna, she serves as an Alumni Arcadian, an at-large member of the Board of Trustees, Chair of the Trustees' Church Support and Relations Committee, and as a member of the Names and Places Committee.

Search Committee Members

Julie Curd, C'92

Julie Curd is a 1992 graduate of the College. She currently serves as the director of client service for UIA Investment Management. Curd previously served as managing director for Smith Breeden Associates, director of marketing for Brookfield and Company, and assistant director of development for the Medical College of Virginia, as well as associate director of annual giving at the University of the South. She is a member of the finance committee for Habitat for Humanity of Durham, a mentor for the Kenan Scholars Program at the Kenan-Flagler Business School, and has served as a board member of the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill and the North Carolina Humanities Council. Among other service to Sewanee, she is currently a member of the Board of Regents, has been a member of the Board of Trustees, vice president for young alumni, class reunion co-chair, and a Beyond the Gates volunteer.

Dr. Renia Dotson, C'88

Dr. Renia Dotson is a 1988 graduate of the University who has practiced general and colon and rectal surgery for 23 years, most of them in the Mississippi Delta. She has spent 21 years working to create an inclusive and equitable experience for patients, colleagues, and staff in a rural healthcare system with limited resources and access to patient care. She has served as chief of staff, surgery department chairman, and medical director of trauma for Delta Regional Medical Center, now Delta Health: The Medical Center. She has served as a class giving chair for Sewanee and currently is a member of the University’s Board of Regents. She lives in Greenville, Mississippi, with her husband, Dr. Wayne Dotson. They have two children.

Bill Harper, C'78

William R. Harper Jr. is a 1978 graduate of the University and current Sewanee resident who has served as an alumni trustee, head of the Alumni Greek Council, and as a member of the Babson Center board and the Visiting Committee. After 40 years as a financial advisor and portfolio manager, he retired in 2018 from Harper Wealth Management of Wells Fargo Advisors in McLean, Virginia. He is the parent of Will, C’08, and Jake, C’10, and husband of Knowles, C’79.

Elliott Harrigan, C'78

Elliott Harrigan is a 1978 graduate of the University and the founder and president of Harrigan & Company, a real estate investment, management, and development firm. He is also founder and president of National Communications Towers, which develops and manages wireless communication infrastructure. He has served on the University’s Board of Trustees and is a current member of the Board of Regents. He lives in Richmond, Virginia, with his wife, Terrell. They have three adult daughters, including Elise, C’15.

Dr. Elise Kikis

Elise Alexandra Kikis is an associate professor and chair of the Biology Department. She joined the Sewanee faculty in 2012 with the goal of inspiring the next generation of scientists to think critically and address pressing scientific questions and problems. She earned a B.A. in biology from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in plant biology from the University of California, Berkeley. She previously served as a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University where she initiated a long-term research program aimed at understanding the molecular underpinnings of protein folding diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. She has published 20 articles, many with Sewanee undergraduate student co-authors, in internationally recognized journals and has successfully competed for research grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Kennedy’s Disease Association, and the Appalachian College Association. At Sewanee, she serves as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Sewanee Science and represents the faculty on several committees including as co-chair of the Budget Priorities Committee.

Dr. Julian Ledford

Julian Ledford is an assistant professor of French and French studies. He specializes in early-modern French and francophone literature with a particular focus on Joseph Bologne, the Chevalier of Saint-George, and 18th-century women writers' contributions to discussions on masculinities. Additional research interests include ethnic, racial, and sexual alterity in the early 18th century; French Baroque opera; and second language teaching and learning. He is a graduate of Washington and Lee University, the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, and Vanderbilt University.

Marcel Lettre, C'94

Marcel Lettre is currently a vice president with Lockheed Martin, an aerospace company based in the Washington, D.C., area. After graduating from Sewanee in 1994 with a political science degree and then from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government with a master’s in public policy, he had a two-decade career in public service, including working as national security advisor to the Senate majority leader and in the Pentagon for four secretaries of defense. He completed his government service as under secretary of defense for intelligence, the top advisor to the secretary of defense on intelligence matters. As an undergraduate at Sewanee, he was active in his fraternity, served on the Honor Council, and enjoyed the outdoor activities on the Domain. He currently serves as a member of the University's Board of Trustees.

The Rev. Dr. Robert MacSwain

The Rev. Dr. Robert MacSwain is associate professor of theology, a former faculty trustee, and acting associate dean for academic affairs at the School of Theology during the Advent 2022 semester. A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, the University of Edinburgh, and Virginia Theological Seminary, he received his Ph.D. from the University of St. Andrews. He works in the fields of Christian doctrine and philosophical theology. Prior to coming to Sewanee in 2009 he served as a high school religion teacher, research assistant to the archbishop of Canterbury, parish priest, and college chaplain. He is canonically resident in the Diocese of East Carolina, one of the University's constituent dioceses.

Dr. Alison Miller

Alison J. Miller, assistant professor of art history and director of Asian studies, specializes in modern and contemporary Japanese art, prints and photography, and the intersections of gender studies and visual culture. Her research has been funded by a Fulbright Fellowship, Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship, and Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship, among others. She has published in the Journal of Japanese Studies, TransAsia Photography Review, Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas (ADVA), Nursing Clio, and contributed to various public humanities projects and museum catalogues. She is co-editor and contributing author for The Visual Culture of Meiji Japan: Negotiating the Transition to Modernity (Routledge, 2021), and is currently completing a book manuscript analyzing the visual culture of the modern Japanese empresses. Dr. Miller teaches the survey of Asian art history, as well as courses in Japanese and Chinese art, Buddhist art, contemporary Asian art, and museum studies. She hails from Chicago, Illinois.

Jessica Osaki, C'02

Jessica Osaki serves as the global program manager for cloud partners at Google in Mountain View, California. A 2002 graduate of the College with a degree in art history and concentration in women’s studies, she was a member of the Order of the Gown, founder and president of Kappa Omega sorority, an Arcadian, and an Annual Fund volunteer. Prior to joining Google, she spent her career working at the intersection of technology and social good helping nonprofits and social entrepreneurs grow their organizations. She held a variety of roles at Blackbaud, Vanderbilt University and Medical Center and her own consultancy, Mar Vista Group. Shea currently serves on the boards of trustees for the Nashville Ballet and the University of the South, and volunteers with various arts and education organizations.

The Rt. Rev. Jacob W. Owensby, T'97, H'13

The Rt. Rev. Jacob W. Owensby is the fourth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana. Before his election as bishop in 2012, he served as dean of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Shreveport. Prior to that, he was rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in metropolitan St. Louis, Missouri, and St. Stephen’s in Huntsville, Alabama, and assistant rector for Christian Formation at St. Mark’s in Jacksonville, Florida. He is a graduate of the School of Theology, and was ordained to the diaconate and the priesthood in the Diocese of Florida. He has been married to his wife, Joy, since 1983. They have three adult children and three grandchildren.


Alan Ramirez serves as Sewanee's dean of admission and financial aid. He has over 15 years of experience within selective college admission, recruitment, and college counseling. Prior to his arrival at Sewanee in 2021, he served as associate vice president and dean of admission at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He also held enrollment positions at Southern Methodist University and Oklahoma State University. As dean, he is responsible for broadening the national reach and the demographic make-up of the University.

Kate Reed, C'08

Katherine J. “Kate” Reed is a 2008 graduate of the College and has been a staff member at Sewanee since 2013. She is director for data & operations in Sewanee Career Readiness and currently serves as a staff trustee.

K. L. Riley, T'23

K.L. Riley is a senior in the School of Theology. A transgender man from rural Limestone County, Alabama, he is currently a candidate for holy orders through the Diocese of Alabama. He holds bachelor’s degrees from Samford University and Athens State University, as well as a master’s in religion and a certificate in child advocacy from Athens State. He aspires to rural, small parish ministry where he hopes to continue working with LGBT+ youth in rural Alabama.

Don W.F. Rodgers, C'05

Don Rodgers serves as assistant attorney general with the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General in Louisville, Kentucky. He earned his J.D. from the University of Louisville, and has focused his career in public service. A 2005 graduate of the College with a degree in English, he was a Wilkins Scholar, a member of the Order of the Gown, recipient of the Stephen Elliott Puckette III Award, and a four-year letterman and captain of the football team. As an alumnus, he serves as a member of the Board of Trustees, and as a member of the Names and Places Committee.

Pratham Singhal, C'24

Pratham is from Indore, India, and is double majoring in economics and politics with a minor in business. He is currently working as a junior business development analyst intern with Relai. A graduate of Sewanee DataLab, he works as an economics research assistant and serves as a student trustee. He is a Carey fellow, Sewanee's business honors program and was elected treasurer of the Student Government Association, vice president of the Sewanee Asian Organization, and DEI Chair for Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. He is active in many organizations including the Student Conduct Board, Global Arcadians, the Order of the Gown, Green's View Capital, and the Organization for Cross-Cultural Understanding.

Pete Stringer, C'71

W.A. “Pete” Stringer is a 1971 graduate of the University and senior vice president for public institutions at First Horizon Bank. He earned a J.D. at the Nashville College of Law and an MBA at Vanderbilt University. He has served on the University’s Board of Trustees and is currently a member of the Board of Regents. He has served as treasurer for the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee and as an eight-time lay deputy to the church’s General Convention. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Bella Katz Stringer, C’73. They have two daughters, Marie Stringer Yeagle, C’02, and Elizabeth Ann Stringer, C’03.

The Rev. Canon Doris Westfall, T'05

The Rev. Doris Westfall became canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Missouri in 2019. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology, with minors in sociology and theology from Valparaiso University. She earned a master's degree in social work from St. Louis University and a Master of Divinity degree from the University of the South in 2005. She has served on the Board of Trustees since 2009. She is certified by both the Interim Ministry Network and Clergy Leadership Institute in transition ministry. She trains congregations and vestries in the search process and in how to have crucial and difficult conversations.

Ex-Officio Members

The Rt. Rev. Robert S. Skirving, H'15

Robert S. Skirving, H'15, is the chancellor of the University and the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina. Prior to being elected bishop, Skirving served congregations in Ontario and Michigan for 28 years. He is chair of the University’s Board of Trustees and a current member of the Board of Regents.

Jett M. Fisher, C'79

Jett M. "Jay" Fisher is a 1979 graduate of the College. He currently serves the University as secretary of the corporation, and secretary of the Board of Trustees. He is a parent of Jett, C’11; Elliott, C’13; John, C’16; and Henry, C’21.

Reid T. Funston, C'86

Reid T. Funston is a 1986 graduate of the College and is the current chair of the Board of Regents. He is a partner and co-chief investment officer with Reicon Capital in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a former member of both the Board of Trustees and the advisory board of the Babson Center for Global Commerce.

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