“I feel like Sewanee made us more philanthropic-minded. Sewanee creates an environment that encourages you to think outside yourself.”

Lee Allen and Bess Caughran Allen

Bess Caughran Allen and Lee Allen, both C’05, describe Sewanee as “the thread that keeps weaving through our lives.” With lifelong Episcopal connections and an awareness of Sewanee from a young age, neither of them ever considered attending college anywhere else.

Now, the Allens are committed to staying connected with and offering support to Sewanee because of the outstanding education they received on the Mountain. Bess remarks, “I can’t express enough how much Sewanee teaches you to be self-reliant and responsible. We were so prepared going into adult life, and Sewanee gave us so many opportunities.”

Bess is currently serving as chair for her class’s fundraising efforts. She is in a place where she is eager to reconnect with friends from her class, who are now living all over the world but still connected through their Sewanee roots. She says, “We are at an age where we have been focused on careers and kids, and now folks are ready to think back on Sewanee and our formative years there. I think people are eager to get involved and give back and I’m excited to help facilitate that.”

From providing career advice and mentorship to helping with job placements and networking connections, Lee is also generous with his time and eager to lend a helping hand to others who share Sewanee connections. This summer, he will host a Sewanee student as a summer intern at JLL, a professional services firm specializing in real estate and investment management, where Lee is Executive Managing Director.

Apart from volunteer service, the Allens are committed to giving back monetarily to Sewanee as well. Lee says, “We all have a desire for Sewanee to be the special place that we remember, and we need to commit time and resources to help enhance and sustain Sewanee for generations to come.” Bess says that the couple always looks to Sewanee when deciding which area to support, noting “they are such good stewards of their resources.”

Lee and Bess as students at Sewanee

The Allens have completed a Cornerstone Internship, and have just established a new Cornerstone Scholarship. The Cornerstone program includes a four-year commitment, and the scholarship program allows you to fund a student for their entire Sewanee career. Bess says, “We heard the call for internship support, and knowing how important internships can be for young people, we knew we had to do a Cornerstone Internship.”

Once they completed their Cornerstone Internship commitment, the Allens once again looked towards Sewanee for guidance, and they felt compelled to support Sewanee’s financial aid program through a Cornerstone Scholarship. Bess explains, “In order to have the best, most diverse student body and Sewanee community, you have to have scholarship support. The Cornerstone program is transformative; just one internship or scholarship can change someone's entire life.”

Lee summarizes why supporting Sewanee is so important to the couple: “Our love of Sewanee is derived from how the University has changed our lives. If something is important to you, you show your commitment with your calendar and/or your wallet.” Bess adds, “we know that Sewanee has always been sustained by supporters who came before us. We are happy to continue that tradition and encourage others to do the same. When we look at our lives, our relationships, and where we are now, we know that Sewanee has played a big role in that, and we are very grateful. We challenge others to reflect on who and where they are and think about how Sewanee may have aided in that growth.”

For information about setting up a Cornerstone Scholarship or Internship or to learn more about helping with your class's fundraising activities, contact Whitney Franklin at wpfrankl@sewanee.edu."