The University of the South (familiarly known as Sewanee, for the Tennessee town in which the University is located) was founded in 1857 by 13 southern dioceses of the Episcopal Church. The University is purposefully small and dedicated to providing a top-quality liberal arts education, while building a sense of community and lasting relationships. Located on 13,000 acres atop the Cumberland Plateau between Nashville and Chattanooga, the University’s campus, known as the Domain, is one of the nation’s largest.

With an enrollment of 1,710 undergraduate students and approximately 220 graduate students, Sewanee has a distinguished college of arts and sciences, a leading graduate school of theology, and an innovative school of letters offering summer master’s degree programs in literature and creative writing. Sewanee has produced 26 Rhodes scholars, a Pulitzer prize-winning author, a U.S. senator and other elected officials, critically acclaimed poets and writers, leading academics who have become college presidents, and three of the last six presiding bishops of the Episcopal Church in the United States.

The Position


Reporting to the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, the Associate Dean of Student Life provides a senior leadership role in promoting the health, safety, welfare, and development of students. The position contributes to the success of the Division of Student Life through supervision and support to residential life, student accessibility services and first-year programs. The position will address conduct, compliance and student crises; serve on-call; work on special projects to enhance the student experience; respond to parents; and work with constituents such as alumni and community members. The Associate Dean will promote the values and positive features of the residential experience and help ensure that residential life supports the academic mission of the University and the student life division.

This position is a key leader within the division, focusing on professional development of all staff through coordinated, intentional, and strategic training and programs. The Associate Dean will be a collaborative partner across the institution and provide leadership, support and expertise to faculty and staff on topics including student development, diversity and inclusion, conduct, crisis management and best practices in student affairs.

Selected duties and responsibilities include:

  • provide leadership, supervision and evaluation of programs and staff in assigned area of responsibilities; includes (incorporates?) hiring, orienting, directing, coaching and evaluating staff;
  • maintain and enforce rules of student conduct. The primary case load will come from incidents in residence halls but the Associate Dean will respond to other cases;
  • forecast budget needs and manage program budgets and reconciliation processes;
  • plan small and mid-level residence hall renovations and participate in new construction projects;
  • coordinate entry and maintenance of student information while collaborating with University partners to maintain campus information system database;
  • participate in planning process and on-going programmatic development of first-year initiatives;
  • identify and assess appropriate measures of operational effectiveness and student learning outcomes;
  • serve on University committees and represent Sewanee at state, regional and national professional meetings.


The Associate Dean of Student Life position was held previously by Dr. Rebecca “Becky” Spurlock who took the position of vice president of student affairs and leadership at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in July of 2019.


The Associate Dean of Student Life is an attractive professional leadership opportunity in student affairs at Sewanee. The Associate Dean will need a broad knowledge base in student affairs best practices and an awareness of the unique environment and challenges of a small liberal arts university. This position will require stamina and strong communication skills, as one becomes acquainted with Sewanee and its distinctive culture and etiquette.

The position will draw interest from experienced candidates who have broad backgrounds in student affairs work while possessing an appreciation for the small liberal arts university environment. The new Associate Dean will work hard for positive visibility and relationship building in a small campus community.

Additional challenges and opportunities for the Associate Dean as articulated by stakeholders are to:

  • Work in an environment where community engagement and collaboration is a necessity for success in serving students; be a bridge builder to other departments and units on campus.
  • Provide formalized staff training, professional development opportunities, and support for a division that will be establishing its identity with a new president.
  • Celebrate and highlight the small liberal arts institution experience and perspective.
  • Provide leadership and experience in managing student conduct, crisis management and mental health issues in an environment with an increasing caseload.
  • Support students through visibility at campus events both within and outside the division.
  • Exhibit strong communication skills through personal interaction, public presentations and online presence.
  • Support residential life through capital improvements and renovations for aging facilities.
  • Advocate for diversity and inclusion through effective policy, practice and process development.
  • Support the newly created student accessibility services office as they continue to define their role and function on campus.
  • Manage publications for the division for consistency, content, design guidelines and effective marketing.
  • Promote cultural competency training for staff and student leaders.


At an appropriate interval after joining Sewanee, The University of the South, the following will have defined success for the Associate Dean for Student Life:

  • The Associate Dean has served as a visible and engaged leader throughout campus. The Associate Dean has been an essential team member and resource with faculty, staff and students;
  • The Associate Dean has worked to learn and celebrate the traditions of Sewanee and has promoted what those traditions mean to students and alumni;
  • The Associate Dean has a defined budget plan with goals for new initiatives to be implemented;
  • The Associate Dean has worked with other leaders in the division to successfully plan professional development and training for student life staff;
  • The Associate Dean has built a collaborative and high-functioning team, and the purpose of the office has been well defined and understood;
  • The Associate Dean has analyzed, contributed to, and expanded plans that are best practices for the division and the campus moving forward;
  • The Associate Dean has made substantial contributions to increasing the marketing, brand, and outreach communications of all areas within the student life area; and
  • The Associate Dean has assessed the impact of programs and services.


Minimum requirements include a master’s degree and seven years of managerial or related professional experience at a comparable college or university. A doctorate is preferred. Other qualifications include: experience with supervision and managing resources; visionary thinking and planning skills; the ability to work collaboratively with students, faculty and staff on complex issues; the ability to build and maintain strong relationships with key partners, with an emphasis on dynamic communication and collaboration; demonstrated ability to create a strategic vision and to motivate others; and a demonstrated personal and professional commitment to diversity and inclusion.

The successful candidate will have an appreciation and understanding of the value of and special nuances of a liberal arts education. They will bring expertise in managing crises, legal issues and current trends with student mental health. They will compliment and celebrate the diversity of the campus. The successful candidate will need a strong work ethic and commitment to the purpose of the university.


An Overview of the Division of Student Life

Sewanee’s culture of excellence leads students to discover their potential, in and out of the classroom. During their four years on campus, Sewanee students explore multiple directions, wear a variety of hats, and cross disciplinary boundaries to shape identities for themselves; they are vibrant members of the University’s shared community.

The Deans of Students and the entire division of student life staff and student leaders collaborate to foster an engaged community dedicated to student development, where living honorably is  the University’s long-standing tradition. Directed by the University’s purpose statement, student life develops the whole person by providing rich opportunities for leadership and intellectual and spiritual growth so that  students can “live with grace, integrity, and a reverent concern for the world.”


  • Academic Success
  • First Year Programming: Choices 101
  • Orientation
  • Multicultural Student Affairs
  • Posse Foundation Partnership
  • Residential Living
  • Sewanee Outdoor Program
  • Sewanee Union Theatre
  • Special Events
  • Stirling’s Coffee House
  • Student Organizations/Greek Life
  • Community Standards
  • AlcoholEDU and Bacchus
  • Wellness (promotion, health and counseling)

Building a Better Future

Student Life Mission:

“Partnering with stakeholders, we contribute to the development of a vibrant campus culture, promote student success, and advance student engagement, belonging, inclusion, and flourishing through programs and services.”

“We believe:

  • Education and self-discovery are relational and are best facilitated in close community.
  • Dignity and respect are fundamental to every individual and leads us to embrace diversity and global citizenship.
  • Being curious, learning, thinking critically, reflecting, and pursuing passions are life-long pursuits.
  • Student development demands appropriately balancing support and challenge as well as empowerment and accountability.
  • Integrity, honesty, authenticity, well-being, and personal responsibility are essential personal characteristics that must be developed throughout the college experience.
  • Health, happiness, and meaning are derived from hard work, dedication, and positivity.”

Leadership of the Division

Marichal Gentry – Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students

Marichal Gentry is the vice president for student life and dean of students at Sewanee, the University of the South. He was appointed to this position in July 2015.

Prior to becoming dean of students at Sewanee, Dean Gentry served at Yale University as the associate vice president for student life and senior associate dean of Yale College.  He came to Yale in 2007 from Middlebury College, where, for eight years, he served as the associate dean of the college, acting dean of student affairs, associate dean of student affairs, and acting registrar.

Before returning to higher education, Dean Gentry worked in Consumer Banking for Wells Fargo.  For six years he counseled young children and families undergoing treatment at Duke University’s Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Program.

Dean Gentry currently serves on several advisory boards, including 100 Men in Black Gospel Chorus, Inc. of the Triangle area in North Carolina and has served on the international advisory board for Student Affairs at the University of Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico.

Dean Gentry has been awarded several honors for his work with young people and for his service in the field of higher education.

Dean Gentry is a 1986 graduate of Sewanee, the University of the South, where he earned a BA in Social Science/Foreign Language (Political Science/French). He went on to earn a master’s of social work degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1994), focusing on Families and Children.

Dean Gentry also has earned a certificate of completion from the Institute of European Studies in Paris, France (1985), and two certificates of completion from Harvard University’s Institute for Higher Education: The Management Development Program (2006), and the Institute for Management in Leadership in Education (2012).

In his spare time, Dean Gentry enjoys listening to music, writing, storytelling, documentary filmmaking, and watching college basketball.

Institution & Location


Institutional Background/History

As the University celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding in 2007–2008, it looked back on a rich history and forward to new opportunities for the next generations. With a spectacular natural setting, a collaborative scholarly community, and a commitment to educational excellence that has made it one of the top liberal arts institutions in the nation, the University of the South faces a new era confident in its mission and its capacity to adapt to changing circumstance.

Sewanee was founded in 1857 by clergy and lay delegates from Episcopal dioceses throughout the south. They selected a site in Sewanee, atop the Cumberland Plateau about 50 miles west of Chattanooga, and local landowners and the Sewanee Mining Company donated nearly 10,000 acres for the enterprise. On October 10, 1860, the founders laid the cornerstone for a campus that would eventually grow to house 1,500 students on 13,000 forested acres.

Its planned opening delayed by the onset of the Civil War, the University successfully opened its doors in 1868 with the help of benefactors in America and England who supported the vision of a new Episcopal university in the southern United States. The first Opening Convocation on September 18, 1868, boasted a total of nine students and four faculty. By the turn of the century the University was firmly established with a preparatory school, college, and seminary programs.

Successful athletic teams and a thriving cultural life testified to its emergence among mainstream colleges and universities. In 1891, royal purple was adopted as the school color, and Sewanee played its first intercollegiate football game. The 1899 football team was undefeated, winning 12 straight games—including five games during a six-day, 3,000-mile road trip.

During the 1920s, both a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and a movie theatre were established at Sewanee. The University persevered through the difficult years of the Great Depression and both world wars. The newfound optimism and growth of higher education following World War II opened doors for many people seeking educational opportunity.

The 1950s saw the completion of All Saints’ Chapel and other campus landmarks, as well as the airport (where students now can earn PE credit for classes in sport aviation). Musical traditions were begun in the same decade with the first Sewanee Summer Music Center and the first Festival of Lessons and Carols performance. Women were admitted to the University as fulltime students in 1969; today’s freshman classes are about half women, and include diverse students from around the world.

The last 40 years have seen campus facilities built, renovated and upgraded, including a new student union (1974), fitness center (1994), dining hall (2001), sciences building (2008), and forestry and geology building (2010). Enrollment has grown. The University has set some additional goals, aiming to be a national leader in environmental studies and sustainability. And yet as Sewanee passes its sesquicentennial milestone, some things have not changed: the University remains purposefully small, and dedicated to providing a top-quality liberal arts education while building a sense of community and lasting relationships.

About Sewanee, Tennessee

Sewanee is a census-designated place (CDP) in Franklin County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 2,311 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Tullahoma, Tennessee Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Sewanee is best known as the home of The University of the South, commonly known as “Sewanee.” Its 13,000-acre domain and surrounding state parks provide a paradise of forests, bluffs, waterfalls, hundreds of miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Incredible views atop bluffs and cliffs overlook the valleys.

University Purpose

The University of the South is an institution of the Episcopal Church dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom in close community and in full freedom of inquiry, and enlightened by Christian faith in the Anglican tradition, welcoming individuals from all backgrounds, to the end that students be prepared to search for truth, seek justice, preserve liberty under law, and serve God and humanity.

The College of Arts and Sciences is committed to the development of the whole person through a liberal arts education of the highest quality. Outstanding students work closely with distinguished and diverse faculty in a demanding course of humane and scientific study that prepares them for lives of achievement and service. Providing rich opportunities for leadership and intellectual and spiritual growth, while grounding its community on a pledge of honor, Sewanee enables students to live with grace, integrity, and a reverent concern for the world.

The School of Theology educates women and men to serve the broad whole of the Episcopal Church in ordained and lay vocations. The School develops leaders who are learned, skilled, informed by the Word of God, and committed to the mission of Christ’s church, in the Anglican tradition of forming disciples through a common life of prayer, learning, and service. Sewanee’s seminary education and world-wide programs equip people for ministry through the gift of theological reflection in community.

Strategic Plan

To read about the strategic plan


Dr. John M. McCardell Jr. – Vice Chancellor and President

John M. McCardell Jr., president emeritus of Middlebury College, was elected by the Board of Trustees in January 2010 to be the university’s 16th vice-chancellor. His appointment was effective July 1, 2010, with the formal installation during Founders’ Day ceremonies in October of that year.

In 2015, McCardell was appointed chair of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU). NAICU board members set the association agenda on federal higher education policy; actively encourage support of association priorities and initiatives; and oversee the organization’s financial administration.

McCardell is a distinguished historian and respected national leader in liberal arts education. He possesses a record of achievement as a scholar of the American South, as the chief executive of one of America’s finest liberal arts colleges, and as a respected national figure in the public discussion about higher education and student life.

A prolific writer, McCardell is the author of The Idea of a Southern Nation, developed from his PhD dissertation, as well as many essays, chapters, articles, and book reviews. His specialty is U.S. history in the 19th century with special emphasis on the Old South and on American historiography.

A Maryland native, lifelong Episcopalian, and 1971 graduate of Washington and Lee University, he did his graduate work at The Johns Hopkins University and then at Harvard University, where he received his PhD in history in 1976. McCardell has received honorary degrees from Washington and Lee University and from St. Michael’s College.

McCardell joined the history faculty at Middlebury in 1976 and served as Middlebury’s president from 1992 until he stepped down in 2004.

McCardell served as chairman of the Division III Presidents’ Council of the NCAA in 2003-04 and led a successful, comprehensive reform effort. Three years ago, McCardell founded Choose Responsibility, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to engage the public in informed and dispassionate debate about the effects of legislation mandating a legal drinking age of 21. In 2008 he co-sponsored the Amethyst Initiative, a statement signed by 135 college and university presidents that challenges the effectiveness of current drinking-age laws.

He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa and has been honored with grants and fellowships from the American Philosophical Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute for Southern Studies.

McCardell is married to Bonnie Greenwald McCardell, an advocate for quality childcare and education as well as eldercare and retirement communities. Bonnie is a graduate of Connecticut College and has a master’s degree in early childhood from the University of South Carolina. They have two grown sons.

Dr. Nancy Berner – Provost

Nancy Berner became the eighth Provost of the University on July 1, 2017. Prior to accepting her current post, Nancy served as the provost’s primary associate in overseeing the day-to-day operations of the University and in executing strategic and operational initiatives as associate provost starting in 2012. In recognition of her increasing duties, she was named vice provost for planning and administration in 2014, and vice president for planning and administration in 2016. Prior to joining the provost’s office, she taught biology at Sewanee for 20 years.

“Nancy’s knowledge of the University is deep, and her service has been exemplary,” said McCardell. “It was apparent, after observing Nancy’s commitment and dedication to the University, her collaborative leadership style, and the positive results achieved by her in so many varied undertakings, that the best successor to John Swallow was already on campus.”

Berner’s responsibilities and accomplishments since joining the provost’s office have been broad and numerous. She took responsibility for the University’s ten-year report to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (its regional accrediting association), a process that resulted in accreditation being reaffirmed in 2016. She has served as the University’s Title IX coordinator, charged with monitoring compliance with those laws and regulations.

Perhaps less visible but also important, Berner convened a group to organize communications for the Advising Task Force, as part of an innovative new academic advising system. She designed and maintains an interactive, multiyear University budget model that is used to make strategic long-term budget decisions and leads the annual budget development processes. And she also chaired a Search Advisory Committee to assist the vice-chancellor in finding a successor to Donna Pierce as general counsel.

Berner is the William Henderson Professor of Biology. In addition to her record of teaching excellence, she served as interim associate dean of the College, was elected to two three-year faculty terms on the Board of Trustees, and served on numerous administrative committees including the Campus Master Planning Committee, Advisory Council, Coordinating Committee, and Strategic Planning Committee.

Academic Programs and Faculty

Known familiarly as “Sewanee” by its students, faculty, staff and friends, the University of the South offers an unmatched educational experience. The university remains purposefully small and dedicated to building a sense of community. All classes are taught by professors, not graduate teaching assistants, and close faculty-student interaction ensures that each student enjoys a rich and personal educational experience. It is not unusual for students and faculty members to work shoulder to shoulder on research projects and journal articles, to meet for coffee at a local eatery, or to serve together as members of the university orchestra, volunteer fire department, and other civic groups.

The result of such individualized education is clear in the academic success of Sewanee students and alumni. The university has had 26 Rhodes Scholars—a number that puts Sewanee in the top four nationally among American liberal arts colleges—as well as 34 NCAA Postgraduate Fellows, 47 Watson Fellows, and dozens of Fulbright Scholars, and has an acceptance rate to graduate and professional schools that far outpaces its peers. The School of Theology has added to its alumni ranks countless bishops, including three of the last four presiding bishops of the Episcopal Church.

Sewanee offers 36 majors, 43 minors, and 15 special programs, along with pre-professional programs in business, health/medicine, education, engineering, and law. More than 40 percent of students participate in study-abroad programs, and a comprehensive endowed program that provides financial support for summer internships has greatly strengthened career development for undergraduates.

In an era of specialization, Sewanee upholds the broad-based ideals of liberal education as a surer means to success. At the University of the South, the adherence to outstanding liberal arts education and enduring traditions of honor, community, and respect have transformed many generations of students and have earned the abiding loyalty and support of alumni who are enjoying lives of integrity, leadership, and service.

The Student Body

Enrollment by Race/Ethnicity, 2019-20

Undocumented Students: 79

Hispanic/Latino: 91

Black/African American: 70

White: 1,450

American Indian/Alaska Native: 1

Asian: 22

Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0

Two or more races: 55

Race or ethnicity unknown: 0

Total: 1,768

Benefits Overview

Sewanee, The University of the South offers the following benefits:

  • Medical insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Vision insurance
  • Medical care spending accounts
  • Dependent care spending accounts
  • Life and accidental death insurance
  • Long term disability insurance
  • Employee assistance program
  • Wellness programs
  • Retirement plans
  • Educational benefits
  • On-campus childcare

Application & Nomination

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter. Nominations for this position may be emailed to Laura Puckett-Boler at Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.

Visit Sewanee: The University of the South website at

The University of the South is an equal opportunity educational institution that is committed to creating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive campus environment.