December 1, 2021
Dear Sewanee Community,
As you have heard by now, stories have circulated in the news media that President Joe Biden intends to nominate me to be the next U.S. ambassador to the Republic of South Africa. Having concluded that I would accept this nomination if it were offered and that it would be unfair to prolong any uncertainty at the University, I have informed the Board of Regents of this decision and tendered my resignation as vice-chancellor effective at the conclusion of this semester, on
I know that this news comes suddenly. I have been profoundly honored to serve as the 17th vice-chancellor of the University of the South, and I had expected to serve Sewanee for a long time to come. Yet I also know that I would not decline my obligation to serve my country if asked by the president of the United States. The motto of my graduating class from the U.S. Naval Academy is non sibi, sed patriae: “not for self, but for country.” It is a principle that has guided my entire adult life. Should I be nominated by the president and confirmed by the United States Senate, I would return to government service to assume this ambassadorship.
By protocol and tradition, the commencement of the confirmation process that would begin with the president’s public announcement of such a nomination precludes the candidate’s speaking publicly on most related matters prior to the Senate’s rendering its advice and consent at the end of the confirmation process. Out of deference to the president’s decision-making process, I do not intend to speak further about these matters and therefore want to share with you now the following reflections.
Though my tenure as vice-chancellor has been far shorter than I had planned, I will always be grateful for the confidence the Trustees and Regents had in me. I am deeply proud of the work we have done together during a consequential time at the University. We have stepped together through one of the most challenging years in Sewanee’s history, confronting a global pandemic amid the most profound racial reckoning in America in a generation. We have articulated a strategy to meet the realities of the future focused on student success, diversity, and developing new sources of institutional revenue. The first-class team of new and seasoned Sewanee leaders that we have built has inspired us with their deep dedication to Sewanee, its mission, and the work necessary to guide the University to its next stage of excellence. Leelie and I will be watching and rooting for them, and for Sewanee, in the months and years to come with affection, respect, and appreciation.
I also am blessed to have helped the University cross an important historical marker as its first African American vice-chancellor. Sewanee’s story is an American one, of vital ideals calling it forward, of profound challenges and stronger determination. Leelie and I will forever be grateful for the kindness, generosity, and graciousness shown to us by the Sewanee community, and for the many new friends we have made across the “Sewaneeverse.” Ecce Quam Bonum.
We will commend the future of Sewanee to the outstanding leadership of the Trustees and Regents, the skilled leadership team on campus, the profound talent and idealism of our students, the extraordinary devotion and ability of our faculty and staff, and the alumni, parents, and friends whose love and support continue to raise up this vital University. For the rest of our days, we will hold the Mountain in our hearts. May blessings be with you all.
Reuben E. Brigety, II
Vice-Chancellor and President