An open letter from the Bishop Trustees to the University

Image result for sewanee all saints chapel
All Saints’ Chapel at the University of the South. Photo courtesy of Google Images.

March 6, 2018

To our sisters and brothers at the University of the South. From the Bishop Trustees of the University. Grace and peace to you in Christ Jesus.

In the opening days of this academic term the Regents discussed a response to a deeply disturbing revelation. Charlie Rose, a 2016 recipient of an honorary degree, sexually harassed his female colleagues over a period of two decades.

Mr. Rose’s employer dismissed him. Other institutions of higher learning rescinded the honorary degrees that they had conferred upon him. When the Regents met earlier this year, two female Student Trustees presented a cogent argument for removing the degree from Mr. Rose.

We, the undersigned Trustee Bishops, urge the Regents of the University to rescind Mr. Rose’s honorary degree.

Since its inception Sewanee has been an institution dedicated to the nurture of the soul as well as the mind. We are a Christian institution in the Anglican tradition, encouraging and celebrating a life of virtue. While career success is praiseworthy, we value such achievements as but one dimension of a life devoted to pursuing the common good.

Mr. Rose steadily ascended the career ladder. However, in his climb to the top of his profession he repeatedly failed to respect the dignity of his female colleagues. By rescinding the degree, Sewanee acknowledges a reality to which we had previously been blind. This would not represent a departure from the Christian practice of forgiveness. Instead, it is a refusal to live in denial.

What our Regents decide in the case of Mr. Rose will have ramifications beyond the boundaries of the Domain. Our nation is newly awakened to the pervasiveness of the harassment of and the violence toward women in the workplace, on campuses, on our streets, and in our homes. By failing  to act in this case, the University remains silent in the face of a broader injustice. And to paraphrase Eli Wiesel, silence always benefits the oppressor.

In Christ’s peace,

The Gladstone B. Adams III

Bishop, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina

The Rt. Rev. Larry R. Benfield

Bishop, The Diocese of Arkansas

The Rt. Rev. Scott Anson Benhase

Bishop, The Diocese of Georgia

The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Brooke-Davidson

Bishop Suffragan, The Diocese of West Texas

The Rt. Rev. Brian L. Cole

Bishop, The Diocese of East Tennessee

The Rt. Rev. Anne Hodges-Copple

Bishop Suffragan, The Diocese of North Carolina

The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle

Bishop, The Diocese of Texas

The Rt. Rev. Peter Eaton

Bishop, The Diocese of Southeast Florida

The Rt. Rev. Jeff W. Fisher

Bishop Suffragan, The Diocese of Texas

The Rt. Rev. Dena A. Harrison

Bishop Suffragan, The Diocese of Texas

The Rt. Rev. Don E. Johnson

Bishop, The Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee

The Rt. Rev. J. Russell Kendrick        

Bishop, The Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast

The Rt. Rev. Jose A. McLoughlin

Bishop, The Diocese of Western North Carolina

The Rt. Rev. J. Scott Mayer

Bishop, The Diocese of Northwest Texas

Bishop Provisional, The Diocese of Fort Worth

The Rt. Rev. Hector Monterroso

Bishop Assistant, The Diocese of Texas

The Rt. Rev. Jacob W. Owensby

Bishop, The Diocese of Western Louisiana

The Rt. Rev. Samuel S. Rodman

Bishop, The Diocese of North Carolina

The Rt. Rev. Brian R. Seage

Bishop, The Diocese of Mississippi

The Rt. Rev. John McKee Sloan

Bishop, The Diocese of Alabama

The Rt. Rev. George Wayne Smith

Bishop, The Diocese of Missouri

The Rt. Rev. George R. Sumner

Bishop, The Diocese of Dallas

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Waldo

Bishop, The Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina

The Rt. Rev. Terry A. White

Bishop, The Diocese of Kentucky

The Rt. Rev. Robert C. Wright

Bishop, The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

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