The University of the South’s Winter Convocation will be held at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17, in All Saints' Chapel. Honorary degrees will be presented to the Rt. Rev. Phoebe Roaf, the Rev. Daniel Heischman, the Rev. Francis Walter III, T'57, and the Rt. Rev. Samuel Rodman.
The Rt. Rev. Phoebe Roaf, bishop of the Diocese of Western Tennessee, will give the Convocation address and will receive an honorary doctor of divinity degree. Roaf is the first woman and first African American bishop in the 36-year history of the diocese. The Rev. Francis Walter III, T’57, of Sewanee, and the Rev. Daniel Heischman will also receive honorary doctor of divinity degrees.
Additional honorary degrees also will be conferred upon Dr. Ramona Doyle, C’81, a Rhodes Scholar, practicing physician, and professor of medicine, and Lee M. Thomas, C’67, former chairman and CEO of Rayonier, and former EPA administrator.
Following careers in real estate and law, the Rt. Rev. Phoebe Roaf was ordained the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Western Tennessee in May 2019, in Hope Church in Memphis, Tennessee. She became the first woman and first African American bishop in the diocese’s 36-year history. Roaf was most recently the rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, the oldest African American church in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, where she had served since 2011. Before St. Philip’s, she was associate rector for three years at Trinity Episcopal Church in New Orleans, Louisiana. Roaf received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a master of public administration from Princeton University. Prior to following the call to serve The Episcopal Church as clergy, she began her career in commercial real estate. Roaf went on to earn a law degree from the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, and clerked two years for Judge James L. Dennis, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. She earned a master of divinity degree from Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia, an institution she currently serves as vice chair of the Board of Trustees. Roaf, a lifelong Episcopalian, is a native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
The Rev. Daniel R. Heischman is executive director of the National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES). He is also an instructor in doctor of ministry studies at Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, Virginia. Prior to his work with NAES, he was chaplain at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and earlier was head of the Upper School and assistant headmaster of St. Albans School in Washington, D.C. Rev. Heischman previously served as executive director of the Council for Religion in Independent Schools (now the Center for Spiritual and Ethical Education) and as chaplain and assistant headmaster of Trinity School in New York City. His published books include Good Influence: Teaching the Wisdom of Adulthood. He leads faculty and parent workshops and retreats, and serves as a facilitator for faculty development programs related to ethics and the moral development of students. He was the 2006 recipient of NAES’s John D. Verdery Award for outstanding service to Episcopal schools and the association.
The Rev. Francis Walter III, T’57, has a long history of fighting for social and racial justice. After graduating from Spring Hill College, he received a master of divinity degree from the School of Theology. While a fellow at General Theological Seminary, he assisted in a U.N. effort to win freedom for people of then Southwest Africa, now Namibia. His years in parish ministry began as rector at St. James Episcopal Church, Eufaula, Alabama. Following the 1965 murder of Episcopal seminarian Jonathan Daniels in Hayneville, Alabama, Walter was asked by a coalition of religious groups to take Daniels’ place in representing them in Black Belt Alabama. In the 1970s, he became the director of the St. Andrew’s Foundation, which operated Birmingham group homes that allowed people with mental challenges to live and work in community. The foundation operated out of St. Andrew’s Church, and in 1985 Rev. Walter moved from the foundation to become rector of St. Andrew’s.
The Rt. Rev. Samuel Rodman was ordained the 12th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina in 2017. Ordained to the priesthood in 1988, Rodman received an undergraduate degree from Bates College and a master of divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary. Prior to his election as bishop, he served as the special projects officer for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. There he engaged congregations, clergy, and laity in collaborative local and global mission through the"Together Now" campaign, helping to raise funds for these programs. He helped create a new initiative for the diocese called "Mission Hubs," a collaboration of several Episcopal churches, other ecumenical partners, and social services agencies that together identified and implemented projects to serve their local communities. Rodman previously spent 16 years as the rector of St. Michael's in Milton, Massachusetts, during which time the parish established a seven-year plan including a major renovation of the church building.