Honoring Dr. Brown Patterson

Kylee Sanders

Junior Editor 

During Installation week for the newest vice-chancellor, many events were held, including a reception and book launch to celebrate the career of Dr. Brown Patterson (C ’53) (H ’12), former dean of the college and history professor. However, the book launch portion of this event was canceled because of slow production, and will now be coming out in 2024. The reception in Patterson’s honor was still held. 

Patterson graduated from the University of the South in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree in English. He went on to Harvard University to pursue his graduate studies in English Renaissance, which is when he was selected as a Rhodes Scholar. He earned his Master of Arts in English not only from Harvard, but Oxford University as well. He then earned a Master of Divinity in 1958 from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The next year, he was ordained into the priesthood. In 1966, he received his Ph.D. in religious studies from Harvard.

His teaching career, however, began earlier. In 1963, he received his first full-time teaching position at Davidson College and quickly became a leader of their humanities program. Due to his achievements within this program, he was promoted to full-time professor in 1976 at Davidson and continued to teach there for the next three years before returning to the University of the South to become dean of the college. Before stepping down as dean to return to full-time teaching, Patterson was able to establish the humanities program at the University, which is vital to students to this day. 

Throughout his years of teaching, Patterson was an avid writer. He wrote numerous articles and book reviews for prestigious journals and even contributed chapters or essays to multiple books. He’s also the author of four books, including the latest published in 2018. For all of his achievements as dean, professor, and writer, he was awarded an honorary degree, Doctor of Letters, from Sewanee in 2012. 

The University of the South’s new vice-chancellor, Rob Pearigen, spoke during the reception since during Pearigen’s time at Sewanee, Patterson was a mentor and a friend to him. Patterson was even the one who wrote Pearigen’s appointment letter for him to become dean of men and assistant professor. Pearigen spoke highly of Patterson throughout his speech, even calling him the “epitome of gentlemen scholars.” At the end of the speech, Pearigen announced a new scholarship that will honor Dr. Brown Patterson’s career. “The W. Brown Patterson Scholarship fund will provide scholarship support for undergraduate students for years to come.” He then described the fund as an “open-ended fund,” which means it’ll continuously raise funds to increase the scholarships for students for years to come. 

You can watch the celebration of Brown Patterson here

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