The University of the South is a co-educational, residential, liberal arts college. The campus is located in Sewanee, Tennessee and is home to nearly 2,000 students. The school’s nickname is “Sewanee”, which was later incorporated into the official name.
The campus is located on a mountaintop, a picturesque backdrop to the academic and athletic endeavours of the students. Sewanee – University of the South sends 27 varsity sports teams to compete in the NCAA Division III athletics. The school’s motto is “Ecce quam bonum et quam iucundum habitare fratres in unum”, which means “behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”
In 1857, Bishop Leonidas Polk led delegates from ten dioceses of the Episcopal Church to the top of Monteagle Mountain to found the church’s denominational college for the region. Prominent Confederacy leaders Bishop-General Leonidas Polk, Bishop Stephen Elliott, and Bishop James Hervey Otey founded of the university, whereas generals Edmund Kirby Smith, Josiah Gorgas and Francis A. Shoup played a role in the revival of the school after the war. Building more structures was discontinued during the Civil War in the 1860s, and was resumed in 1866. The university opened with four faculty members and nine students during 1868.
Schools of engineering, law, medicine and dentistry used to exist until the second half of the twentieth century, along with a secondary school. But these colleges were discontinued and the university re-focused on two schools, the College and the School of Theology. After the year 2000, the School of Letters was opened, offering M.A. in American Literature and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing.
The buildings all over the Sewanee campus tells of the rich history of the school. Most are constructed with local stone materials and done in the Gothic architecture style. The All Saints’ Chapel, which was designed by Ralph Adams Cram in 1904 was completed only in 1959 by Vice Chancellor Edward McCrady. The image of McCrady was installed on a stained glass window in the chapel in his honor.
A public clarification of the university’s official name was done in 2004. The school clarified that the legal name of this institution is “The University of the South” to address the confusion and proposed a name change. The official name is now “Sewanee: The University of the South.”
The school’s culture of academic and athletic excellence reflects on the activities that students engage in during their spare time. Leadership qualities are embodied by each student inside and outside of the classroom. There are over 100 student-run organizations revolving around various niches, including volunteer groups, club sports and hobby clubs. Many students join the University choir, and promising athletes are inclined towards club sports such as rugby. There are language houses and theatre groups that allow students to pursue their interests in the arts outside the boundaries of their syllabus.
As can be expected in a university located so close to nature, the outdoors clubs are among the most active organizations on campus. Every year, the students organize mountain climbing activities, cycling, hiking and canoeing. Some volunteer groups go as far as to spearhead activities that benefit the community. They help build shelters, spend their time tutoring kids and share their skills through mentoring events.
Sewanee aims to create a fair system in awarding financial aid packages, which includes scholarships, grants and student loans. The school considers several aspects when assessing the eligibility of a student to receive financial aid fund: financial capacity of the student’s family, academic performance, and completeness of application. All the documents should be submitted to the financial aid office on the stipulated deadline. The average debt of a student at graduation is almost $20,000.