Society of Sewanee Scholars holds annual dinner

by Taylor Morris

The Society of Sewanee Scholars (SOSS) held its annual “Best Teaching Practices” reception and dinner Mar. 4, the Monday before Spring Break at Clemet-Chen Hall. The Vice-Chancellor and Mrs. McCardell once again hosted the yearly celebration meant to honor Sewanee’s commitment to a unique style of lively teaching and the joy of learning. As the Society believes that every professor at Sewanee is unique, a different group of educators is selected each year among those nominated by students.

The teachers who members of the SOSS wanted to honor this year for their unique contributions to the learning experiences of students at Sewanee were: Tam Carlson (English), Chris Conn (Philosophy), Melody Crowder-Meyer (Political Science), Pamela Macfie (English), Chris McDonough (Classical Languages), Emily Puckette (Mathematics & Computer Science), Stephen Shaver (Forestry & Geology), and Alyssa Summers (Biology and Biochemistry). William Engel (English) served as the host on behalf of the SOSS. Also assisting in the preparations were Abigail Brudvig (C‘15) and Josh King (Admissions Counselor).

Among the honorees, each year one professor from the humanities and arts and one from the maths and sciences are invited to speak about experiences that have shaped them into the teachers they are today. This year, Professor Carlson represented humanities and Professor Summers, the sciences. Carlson recalled the legendary instructors of his undergraduate years at Sewanee, such as former Dean Stephen Puckette, and gave a very moving tribute to their dedication to higher education and the invaluable guidance they so freely offered along the way. Summers recounted three different project assignments including one involving genomics, looking at the “big picture” in genetics rather than at how single elements turn things on or off in the body) where students achieved outstanding results by virtue of drawing on their previous knowledge of computer science and applying it to this new field of inquiry.

Their remarks were followed by a three-course dinner where students had a chance to get to know their teachers and administrators better. Chief administrators in attendance were Nancy Berner (Associate Provost), John Gatta (Dean of the College), Eric Hartman (Dean of Students), Larry Jones (Associate Dean of the College), and John and Bonnie McCardell.

SOSS is a student organization made up of of over one hundred merit-based scholarship recipients on campus. One of the Society’s primary goals is to improve relations between students and faculty to facilitate the development of the creative and thoughtful learning environment Sewanee is so well known for. If you want to know more about the Society of Sewanee Scholars, please contact the sponsor, Professor Engel, at