Winter Convocation Features Installation and Honorary Degrees

The University of the South’s Winter Convocation will be held at 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, in All Saints' Chapel. Honorary degrees will be presented and new members will be inducted into the Order of the Gown. The Rt. Rev. Robert Skirving will be installed as chancellor of the University.


The Rt. Rev. Robert Skirving

Skirving, bishop of the Diocese of East Carolina, was elected the 25th chancellor of the University of the South on Oct. 12, 2018. Skirving succeeds the Rt. Rev. Samuel Johnson Howard, Bishop of Florida, who served as chancellor from October 2012–2018.

A native of Ontario, Canada, he was ordained and consecrated as East Carolina’s eighth bishop on Nov. 8, 2014. He has been a member of Sewanee’s Board of Trustees since 2014 and the Board of Regents since 2017. He received an honorary degree from the University of the South in 2015.

Prior to becoming bishop, Skirving served as rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Midland, Michigan after moving to the U. S. in 2005. Prior to that, he served as rector of Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church in London, Ontario; rector of St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Brantford, Ontario; and rector of three small congregations in rural southeast Kent County, Ontario.

Skirving earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, in 1982. He earned an M.Div. from Huron University College, London, Ontario, in 1986. He was ordained to the diaconate on May 1, 1986, at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, Ontario, and to the priesthood on Dec. 17, 1986, at St. James Westminster Church, London, Ontario, by Bishop Derwyn Dixon Jones, Bishop of Huron. In 1998, Skirving earned a certificate in congregational development from Seabury Institute, Evanston, Illinois.


The Rt. Rev. Brian Cole

In addition to the installation, honorary degrees will be conferred, including one upon the Rt. Rev. Brian Cole, bishop of the Diocese of East Tennessee. Cole was ordained and consecrated as the fifth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee on Dec. 2 at Church of the Ascension in Knoxville, Tennessee.

After being ordained to the priesthood in 2002 in the Diocese of Western North Carolina, he served as the vicar of Church of the Advocate in Asheville, North Carolina, a homeless worshipping community. From 2005 to 2012, he was the sub-dean at the Cathedral of All Souls in Asheville. Cole was the rector at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Lexington, Kentucky, from 2012 until his election as bishop.

Cole was on the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church from 2006–2012.

He taught religious studies in several educational institutions including the religion department at Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, North Carolina; Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston Salem, North Carolina; and Luther Seminary, St. Paul., Minnesota. He served on the program staff of the Appalachian Ministries Educational Resource Center (AMERC) in Berea, Kentucky, for seven years prior to his ordination. He has been a member of the School of Theology’s Beecken Center’s Advisory Board since 2014.

A southeast Missouri native, Cole graduated from Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky, with a bachelor of science degree in business administration in 1989. In 1992, he earned a master of divinity at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with additional studies in Anglican Church History at the University of the South School of Theology, Sewanee, in 2001.

You can read complete details of the convocation and find the full list of all honorary degree recipients here.