The University of the South announced today that a gift made by David and Kitty Beecken will support The School of Theology’s programs center. This significant and generous gift gives the programs center a new name, The Beecken Center, and provides funding for its continued revitalization, allowing for renewed facilities and new program development.
“The Beecken Center will expand its reach to become the Church’s primary center for lifelong theological education for all the baptized, offering residential and non-residential programs, short courses, and retreats for persons of all ages,” explained the Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, dean of The School of Theology. “The Beecken Center is committed to providing the tools for transformation that enable disciples of Jesus to shape their faith into action.”
Beecken, a 1968 graduate of the University, is a founding partner of Beecken Petty O'Keefe & Company, a private equity firm based in Chicago, Ill. He is a former chair and current member of the University’s Board of Regents and received an honorary degree in 2011. Longtime Episcopalians, the Beeckens are members of St. James Cathedral in Chicago. They are also active in diocesan programs, especially Kitty Beecken with Episcopal Charities and Community Services.
“As alumni of the programs center’s Education for Ministry (EfM) program, we have been impacted by its transformational power,” said Kitty Beecken, who will join The Beecken Center’s board of advisors. “We hope that this gift leverages the capability of the Center beyond EfM, and we view this as a gift to both the Church and the University.”
The revitalization of the programs center began in the spring of 2013 when Alexander appointed Dr. Courtney Cowart as associate dean and director. Cowart brought with her a vision to actively recruit and develop programs to attract and train the laity, focusing on younger, more diverse leaders in the Church and the world.
“With this wonderful gift that establishes The Beecken Center, we can engage disciples to fully realize the ministries God has given us,” shared Cowart. "By drawing on the legacy and resources of EfM, Sewanee’s Episcopal seminary and college, and through partnerships with the Church, we can create an intergenerational learning community like no other for those who seek greater authenticity in the living of their faith.”