Previous Vice-Chancellors

The Rt. Rev. Charles Todd Quintard (1867-1872)

The Rt. Rev. Charles Todd Quintard (1867-1872)

Charles Todd Quintard, the second bishop of Tennessee and the first vice chancellor of the University of the South, was one of the key figures in the revival of the University following the Civil War. Quintard received a medical education in New York City and later moved to Georgia to practice medicine. During the Civil War, he served as a chaplain in the Confederate Army. In 1865, Quintard started a training school for clergy in Sewanee that would later become the University’s School of Theology. As vice chancellor, he traveled to Britain in 1867 to undertake what would become the most crucial capital campaign in the University’s history. By the time he returned, Quintard had raised more than $8,000 for the fledgling University and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge had donated a thousand books to start Sewanee’s library. Even after his tenure as vice chancellor, Quintard was at the center of endeavors to raise money for the University, including a successful return trip to Britain in 1875.

Josiah Gorgas (1872-1878)

Josiah Gorgas (1872-1878)

Another key figure in the resurrection of the University after the Civil War, Josiah Gorgas served as headmaster of the Junior Department before being elected second vice chancellor of the University. Gorgas was a Confederate general during the Civil War, responsible for ordnance in the army, and is considered by many historians to be one of the finest logistical officers on either side of the war. His military reputation and friendships with the Southern elite conferred much-needed prestige on the fledgling University. Gorgas brought to Sewanee organizational skills, a keen attention to detail and the useful ability to hire good faculty and staff. During his vice chancellorship the Order of Gownsman became a part of student life. After leaving Sewanee, Gorgas served as president of the University of Alabama.

The Rev. Telfair Hodgson (1879-1890)

The Rev. Telfair Hodgson (1879-1890)

Telfair Hodgson was named dean of Sewanee’s School of Theology in 1878 and elected as the University’s third vice chancellor a year later. Hodgson had served in the Confederate army during the Civil War, first as a soldier and later as a chaplain after his ordination in 1864. At Sewanee, Hodgson played an important role in moving the University from a campus of wood-frame buildings to one of stone structures that radiated a sense of permanence and stability. He pressed the University to build what became Thompson Union and Convocation Hall and wanted to start a permanent and appropriate chapel. Hodgson was also an astute fiscal manager who kept the University’s difficult financial situation from becoming a disaster. Hodgson’s personal generosity marks him as notable among Sewanee’s “never-failing succession of benefactors.”

The Rt. Rev. Thomas Frank Gailor (1890-1893)

The Rt. Rev. Thomas Frank Gailor (1890-1893)

Thomas Frank Gailor was the chaplain of the University and a member of the School of Theology faculty when he was elected Sewanee’s fourth vice chancellor in 1890. During Gailor’s relatively brief tenure as vice chancellor, the University’s law school and medical school opened, a school of commerce was begun, the Sewanee Review was launched, intercollegiate football started, and Walsh Hall was completed. Gailor resisted an offer to become bishop of Georgia but eventually left Sewanee to succeed Charles Todd Quintard as bishop of Tennessee.

Benjamin Lawton Wiggins (1893-1909)

 Benjamin Lawton Wiggins (1893-1909)

When Thomas Frank Gailor became bishop coadjutor of Tennessee in 1893, Benjamin Lawton Wiggins became the first Sewanee graduate to be elected vice chancellor. Until his death in office 16 years later, Wiggins labored incessantly to cement Sewanee’s place in American higher education. From leadership among Southern college presidents to nurturing the law and medical schools to participation in the national debate about race, Wiggins achieved the most prominent position ever enjoyed by a Sewanee vice chancellor. In Sewanee, Wiggins oversaw a nearly constant construction program that included Hoffman Hall, St. Luke’s Chapel, Quintard Memorial Hall, and the start of All Saints’ Chapel. His success in starting a professional approach to the University’s forest and Domain management also put Wiggins at the forefront of the American conservation movement.

William Bonnell Hall (1909-1914)

William Bonnell Hall (1909-1914)

William Bonnell Hall graduated from Sewanee in 1885, received a medical degree from the University of Virginia in 1890, and in 1909 became the second physician (after Charles Todd Quintard) to serve the University as vice chancellor. During his tenure, Hall grappled with the University’s significant financial struggles, which stemmed in part from shrinking student enrollment. Hall’s diligent efforts worked to increase enrollment and to slow the growth of the University’s budget deficit.

The Rt. Rev. Albion Williamson Knight (1914-1922)

The Rt. Rev. Albion Williamson Knight (1914-1922)

Albion Williamson Knight was the first Episcopal bishop of Cuba. In his early years as vice chancellor of the University, Knight saw enrollment in the College reach an all-time high, but American entry into World War I meant the loss of students and revenue. Still, Knight presided over important advancements on campus, including the advent of electrical service and improved sanitation. Knight conducted campaigns both to retire the University’s debt and to build its endowment.

Benjamin Ficklin Finney (1922-1938)

Benjamin Ficklin Finney (1922-1938)

Benjamin Ficklin Finney was one of the most beloved vice chancellors in Sewanee history. During his time, the University enjoyed the greatest prosperity it had ever known and then some of its grimmest years during the Great Depression. Before the Depression, Finney brought stability to the University, restoring morale and fiscal confidence, and increasing enrollment in the college by 65 percent over seven years. After 1930, Finney confronted issues that included budget cuts, massive unemployment in the community, and Sewanee’s venture into the Southeastern Conference. Finney tried a variety of new approaches and spoke candidly on topics such as “big-time football” and the University’s need for church support.

Alexander Guerry (1938-1948)

Alexander Guerry (1938-1948)

On taking office, Alexander Guerry, C’1910, consolidated power in the vice chancellor’s office, resolving long-standing and fundamental issues of University governance. Before World War II, Guerry pursued an ambitious strategic vision for the University and employed his dynamic personality to raise money to convert his dreams into reality. Guerry was able to return Sewanee to its enrollment peaks of the late 1920s, in part by making significant improvements to the appearance of campus and the quality of facilities. During the war, Guerry succeeded in having the U.S. Navy institute a V-12 program at Sewanee in 1943, and over the next two years, more than 600 cadets were trained on campus. A tireless crusader against professionalized college sports, Guerry ended Sewanee’s participation in big-time college football and its membership in the Southeastern Conference. After the war, Guerry laid out an ambitious campus plan that would guide the University’s growth for years to come.

Cordes Boylston Green (1949-1951)

Cordes Boylston Green (1949-1951)

Cordes Boylston Green was vice chancellor for exactly two years, the shortest period served by any of Sewanee’s administrative heads. During his brief tenure, construction commenced on two new buildings, Gailor and Gorgas halls, and the University’s Religion Department was established. Green also brought an Air Force ROTC unit to campus and confronted a series of fires, including one that destroyed Thompson Union.

Edward McCrady (1951-1971)

Edward McCrady (1951-1971)

Edward McCrady served as vice chancellor for 20 years, longer than any other chief executive of the University and a record almost certain to endure. McCrady was a scientist with a national reputation, a musician, a caver, and a deeply committed churchman. He presided over the celebration of the centennial anniversary of the University’s founding, and after 100 years, Sewanee’s national standing placed it among the elite colleges in the nation. Construction activity dominated the two decades of McCrady’s tenure. His first decade saw stunning additions to the Quad: All Saints’ Chapel, which was completed according to the vice chancellor’s own design, a revamped Walsh-Ellett Hall, and the new Cleveland Annex. In his second decade, duPont Library and Woods Laboratories were both completed. Social change also came to the Mountain during McCrady’s years of service when the University was first racially integrated and later admitted women.

James Jefferson Bennett (1971-1977)

James Jefferson Bennett (1971-1977)

In his first two years as vice chancellor, J. Jefferson Bennett achieved balanced budgets, moved to create the Sewanee Utility District, and supervised efforts that led to the construction of a new Emerald-Hodgson Hospital. In the mid-’70s, however, a struggling national economy led again to University budget deficits. Bennett presided over the construction of a new student union, the Bishop's Common, and the Bennett years saw the first efforts since Vice Chancellor Guerry to think conceptually about the long-range future of the Domain.

Robert Moss Ayres Jr. (1977-1988)

Robert Moss Ayres Jr. (1977-1988)

Robert Moss Ayres Jr., a Sewanee alumnus and businessman from San Antonio, Texas, is considered one of the modern founders of the University of the South. As vice chancellor, Ayres imposed fiscal discipline on the University, erasing a $1.2 million deficit in the first five years of his service. Thanks to the success of his Century II Campaign and careful management, the University’s endowment more than tripled during the Ayres years. The ambitious Century II effort — the first capital campaign in 20 years — sought funding for a host of projects and succeeded in raising more than $50 million. The campaign also helped identify a new generation of leaders for Sewanee, both for fundraising and for governance. Ayres’s ability to get people to work for Sewanee is one of his most valuable skills and is one reason that his successors have continued to call on him for guidance, counsel, and inspiration.

Samuel Ruthven Williamson (1988-2000)

Samuel Ruthven Williamson (1988-2000)

Before becoming Sewanee’s fourteenth vice chancellor, Samuel Ruthven Williamson served as provost and chief academic officer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as professor of history at West Point and Harvard. Under Williamson, the University implemented a policy of slow but steady enrollment growth in the College toward the goal of 1,350 students. These years saw change at the University’s School of Theology with the construction of the Chapel of the Apostles and the creation of the Sewanee Theological Review. A new round of strategic planning under Williamson called for more intentional efforts to achieve diversity within the student body and the construction of new science facilities. Williamson’s tenure saw the construction of the Fowler Sport and Fitness Center, McClurg Dining Hall, and Chen Hall as the new vice chancellor’s residence, and the renovation of Quintard Hall and Hodgson Hall. The University’s endowment nearly tripled in value under Williamson, allowing the University to return to the practice of meeting all demonstrated student financial need. Under Williamson a fundraising effort, the Campaign for Sewanee, raised $174 million to become the second most successful campaign by any liberal arts college during the 1990s.

Joel Cunningham (2000-2010)

Joel Cunningham (2000-2010)

Joel Cunningham was the fifteenth vice chancellor of the University of the South and the former president of Susquehanna University. Highlights of Cunningham’s service include a wide range of construction projects that take in both new facilities and major renovations, and a capital campaign, The Sewanee Call, which exceeded its $185 million goal to raise more than $205 million. The first two major projects completed under Cunningham were Humphreys Hall, the first new residence hall in more than 30 years, and Nabit Art Building, a project long sought and long deferred. Cunningham gained control of the Phi Delta Theta house for conversion to University use as the McGriff Alumni House. Gailor Hall was renovated to become the Gailor Center for Languages and Literature, St. Luke’s Hall was converted into a desirable residence hall, and All Saints’ Chapel was refurbished. Cunningham presided over the celebration of the sesquicentennial anniversary of the University’s founding in 2007-08, which coincided with the end of the successful capital campaign and the dedication of the state-of-the-art science building Spencer Hall. During the final year of Dr. Cunningham’s service, a major renovation and addition to Snowden Hall took shape as a new home for the forestry, geology and natural resources departments. He joined the faculty full-time after stepping down as vice chancellor.

Source: Sewanee Sesquicentennial History by Samuel R. Williamson Jr. (University of the South, 2008)