Skip to comments.Faculty Demand Changes to University of South Purpose Statement
Posted on 05/16/2006 7:42:32 PM PDT by sionnsar
SEWANEE, TN: 18 Faculty Demand Changes to University of South Purpose Statement
More Justice, Less Christ
By David W. Virtue
SEWANEE, TN: (5/16/2006)--Eighteen liberal faculty at the University of the South, the Episcopal Church's only owned university, are proposing major changes to the university's purpose statement that would effectively destroy its Christian mission and Episcopal distinctiveness.
The changes do not affect the School of Theology of the university directly, only the liberal arts college.
Proposed by the 18 faculty is dropping the words "...and enlightened by Christian faith in the Anglican tradition" from the present Purpose Statement. They added the words: "committed to justice".
The Purpose Statement now reads: "The University of the South is an institution of the Episcopal Church dedicated to the increase of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, pursued in close community and in full freedom of inquiry, and enlightened by Christian faith in the Anglican tradition, to the end that students may be prepared to search for truth, seek justice for all, preserve liberty under law, and serve God and humanity."
"The self appointed committee of liberal faculty want the Trustees to cast away the old version and adopt a new more sensitive and inclusive purpose statement written by the faculty themselves," a source told VOL.
Their new proposed University Purpose (Third Draft), as demanded by the Faculty Committee of Eighteen, removes the phrase that the University of the South, being an institution of the Episcopal Church, is "enlightened by the Christian faith..." and replaces it with this statement instead: "The University of the South is an institution of the Episcopal Church dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, understanding and wisdom in full freedom of inquiry. The University invites students and faculty from diverse backgrounds to participate in its broad array of educational endeavors through involvement in a community guided by dedication to truth, commitment to justice, and reverent concern for the world. Located on a 10,000 acre campus upon the Cumberland Plateau, the University of the South draws upon its Episcopal tradition to teach and practice careful stewardship of its unique environment."
The 18 faculty who want these changes represent over 10 percent of the undergraduate College faculty, VOL was told. Only one is an alumnus of the College Arts and Sciences, and the remaining seventeen are outsiders to the Sewanee and are unnatural to the ethos of Sewanee Mountain. Some been there for a long time, but several are relatively new hires, said the source.
During their just completed annual meeting on May 4-5 in Sewanee, Tennessee, the Board of Trustees of The University of the South was utterly dismayed when told that a faculty committee had drafted a proposal demanding that the Trustees renege on the University Purpose that they approved last year, VOL was told. The document, which included three drafts of proposed changes, was provided to Trustees as part of the typical ECUSA/academic/feel good/love thy neighbor "conversation" process, said the source.
"What happened was that leftist faculty didn't like what the Trustees did on May 5, 2005, when they approved the latest version of the University Purpose last year. The conjecture here on the Mountain is that they complained amongst themselves and named the respectable J. Douglas Seiters, Professor and chair of classical languages to chair the faculty committee to draft a new statement of Purpose," said the source.
"Our Trustees are not required to pass, or vote on the new faculty University Purpose, but we would hope that their stewardship of the corporate charter requires of them that they understand what the faculty are doing up here, instead of just assuming all is well on the Mountain. The 1.5 day long annual Trustees meeting is more like a long pep rally and fund raising event designed to make Trustees think that they need not worry for anything. The meeting agenda is tightly controlled from the inside It's a wonder that the faculty's Drafts document was even there, for it belies the Lie."
The first draft of possible alternatives proposed by the ad hoc Joint Faculties Committee reads thus and adds the requisite words of feminist Sewanee's inspired sweetness and kindness:
"The University of the South is an institution of the Episcopal Church dedicated to the increase of knowledge, understanding and wisdom, pursued in close community and in full freedom of inquiry, and enlightened by the Christian Faith. The University invites students and faculty from diverse backgrounds to participate in its broad array of educational endeavors. In the spirit of the Anglican tradition, the University of the South seeks to build and sustain a community guided by dedication to truth, commitment to justice, and reverent concern for the world."
Added phrases include: "from diverse backgrounds"..."community... reverent concern for world"..."humanistic and scientific study that incorporates a global perspective"... "opportunities for... dialogue, and service..."
Deleted is "...that prepares them for lives of high achievement." Evidently, that smacks of too much elitist white privilege to be condoned, said the source.
A second draft of the Purpose statement was proposed and issued by the ad hoc Joint Faculties Committee which met to amend the First Draft. The document including all Draft versions and the current University Purpose was made available to Trustees at their most recent meeting - not handed out - but pointed out as available on the head table for those who wanted to walk up and get one, VOL was told.
It appears that all they did in the Second Draft was water down the First Draft. It now reads: "The University of the South is an institution of the Episcopal Church dedicated to the increase of knowledge, understanding and wisdom, pursued in close community and in full freedom of inquiry, and enlightened by Christian Faith in the Anglican tradition, to the end that students from diverse backgrounds may be prepared to search for truth, seek justice for all, preserve liberty under law, and serve God and humanity."
IT IS IN THE THIRD DRAFT, however, that the changes are most dramatic, and, if passed, it would, over time, relegate the university to the dust heap of secularism, like so many other famous American universities that were founded as Christian universities and then lost their Christian distinctiveness over time.
"The new proposed University Purpose (Third Draft) isn't just an empty aspiration on paper as wished for by a bunch old, white Trustees, but is in fact an honest reflection of the University's true purpose as practiced upon the students by the faculty in the classroom, at Diversity Week events, during LGBT Coming Out Week events, Louie Crew honorary visits, Conferences on Women, and through faculty recruitment and tenure decisions, as well by as extreme and expensive Multicultural/Diversity recruiting efforts, which are minimally effective, by the Admissions Office. In response, the Trustees are now discussing just what should be the reasonable and self-respecting limits of tolerance here in Sewanee," said the source.
The Gang of 18 probably thought that the Trustees would immediately see the wisdom of the Third Draft and that a motion would be made to approve it. They forgot that there are a couple of Christians still in the Southern ECUSA, and accidentally one or two gets elected to the Trustees, said the source.
"Should foreign and alien faith traditions expect that the Christian faith, which founded and has sustained the University of the South for 149 years, be removed from the University's written and proclaimed Purpose in order to accommodate the sensitivities of those who are not members of the dominant spiritual culture here on Sewanee Mountain? The University is currently in the final stages of our $180,000,000 million capital campaign, and is close to having in hand the last $50,000,000 needed to support education of students at Sewanee Episcopal University, but perhaps not with so much enlightenment by the Christian faith as in better times. God save us."
Another source claimed that the faculty's versions of the University Purpose are intended to show how "welcoming" the University has become. VirtueOnline predicts that there will be a scaldingly rousing demand from Christian students, alumni, and Trustees for the faculty to explain why removing "enlightened by the Christian faith" makes Sewanee appear more "welcoming." Welcoming of whom by the rejection of what? Does ECUSA's notions of "radical hospitality" extend to allowing faculty at Sewanee Episcopal University to publicly loath the very Christian foundations upon which the University of the South was built?
In his book, God and Man at Yale, William Buckley cites President Charles Seymour in his inaugural address on October 16, 1937 when he said; "I call on all members of the faculty, as members of a thinking body, freely to recognize the tremendous validity and power of the teaching of Christ in our life and death struggle against the forces of selfish materialism. If we lose that struggle, judging from present events abroad, scholarship as well as religion will disappear." Yale is no longer a Christian institution.
The 18 faculty members who take offense at the Christian Faith being mentioned in the university's purpose clearly want a new secularized institution. To achieve that end they must not only face the university's Trustees and Regents but also the thousands of alumni and supporters who are pouring millions of dollars into the university on the basis that it continue, not merely as a Christian institution of higher learning but one that is uniquely Episcopal.
FOOTNOTE: A person intimately acquainted with the university said they are trying to get away from being an Episcopal university and becoming more a liberal arts college. "On the search committee for a new chaplain they put a woman Muslim who is on the faculty as part of the search team. Why did they do that? The committee eventually chose the Rev. Tom MacFie, Jr. rector of Otey Memorial parish in Sewanee to be chaplain. His wife Pamela MacFie is also a leading member of the English faculty department. "It's a liberal parish in order to show their inclusive colors," said the source. "Part of the ethos is to be the Episcopal University so they elected an Episcopal priest/chaplain to serve mainly the undergraduates. The question still remains, what is a Muslim doing even choosing an Episcopal chaplain?"
This is why my daughter didn't even THINK of applying to Sewanee. It's a shame that they lost out on an excellent student with three 800s on the SATs, 5s and 4s on six or eight AP exams, and the top ten percent of a very fine prep school.
Looks like this formerly first-class school is following so many others down the tubes.
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