By Jasmine Huang
This year marks the election of the University’s first African American graduate to the Board of Regents, Dr. Renia Dotson (C’88).
After being asked to sit on the Board, the decision to say yes was very easy for her. “Sewanee means a great deal to me. It was an honor to be asked, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve on the Board of Regents as a way of giving back to the University,” Dotson told The Purple.
“I will strive to be a positive contributor in helping the Board carry out its duties. Beyond that, I would hope that my position on the Board of Regents would serve as inspiration to minority students to remain invested in Sewanee beyond the gates,” Dotson said.
Malicat Chouyouti (C’20), student trustee to the Board, echoed similar sentiments, commenting, “Having Dr. Dotson, I hope it helps the University realize just how critical it is to have an inclusive space and what kind of changes that could bring to the University.”
Following the Charlie Rose movement, which generated her interest in the student trustee position, Chouyouti came to see how there was a significant lack of people of color on the Board of Trustees. “Usually when student input is considered, it’s only a certain demographic that has the opportunity to express their feelings about things,” she explained.
With Dotson’s election, however, she hopes that the board will continue to expand their vision of Sewanee. Chouyouti observed, “I think Dr. Dotson is a good step in the right direction for the University… Right now, there is a very small percentage of people of color on the Board of Trustees––five including me––and it’s not enough to say we are an inclusive campus and we make inclusive decisions.”
A colorectal surgeon at Delta Regional Medical Center in Greenville, Mississippi, Dotson began attending Sewanee in 1984 after hearing about the school from a friend. After graduating, she obtained her doctorate in medicine at the University of South Alabama. Recently in 2017, she earned a masters in public health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
In addition to her professional work, Dotson has volunteered at Beyond the Gates. Partnering with the Career and Leadership Development Office, she’s served as a career advisor while also being a member of the College Visiting Committee and the Sewanee Fund Gift Chair.
Along with her background as a successful doctor and alum, Dotson brings a new voice into the conversation. When asked about her role as the first elected African American graduate onto the Board, she replied, “I do think that representation matters! However, this is just one of many firsts that I have experienced in association with Sewanee.”
She continued, “Having said that, I don’t make light of the significance that this appointment has. I will treat it as I have every other first in my life, with grace and humility and a deep gratitude for the opportunity to serve Sewanee in this capacity. My education and the friendships and connections that I made while on the Mountain are deeply woven into the fabric of who I am.”