News Post

Burns and Smith Named to Academic Chairs
Burns and Smith Named to Academic Chairs

St. Andrew's-Sewanee School faculty members Doug Burns and Geoffrey Smith have been honored with named academic chairs.

Math Department Coordinator Doug Burns was named to the Cissy Patterson Chair in Mathematics. The Cissy Patterson Chair, established by the Cissy Patterson Trust, is awarded to an experienced and highly qualified mathematics teacher at SAS. This is the second time that Burns, who joined the SAS faculty in 1990, has received this honor. Past recipients have included: Margot Burns, Liz Quinn-Stine, Cameron Sisson, Allison Paterson, Patty Milner, Sarah Carlos, and Jerry White.

History Department Coordinator Geoffrey Smith received the Fort Chair in Writing in recognition of his work on leading the school's "Writing Across the Curriculum" initiative and his Humanities Teachers of Tennessee honors, and work on Holocaust Studies. The Fort Chair in Writing was established in 1995, in appreciation for a major gift from Dudley Clark Fort, Sr., in honor of his daughter-in-law, Priscilla Carter Fort. Past recipients of the Fort Chair have included: Claire Reishman, Tracy Randolph, Tom Gladstone, Mark Brunton, Phil White, and Susan Core.

Both chairs are awarded for a 3-year period. They provide a stipend for the recipient and an additional $1000 in professional development for use by a faculty member in the designated academic area.

The concept of an academic chair originated with the medieval church. Teaching was said to take place ex cathedra (from the chair), because each bishop had a throne (cathedra) in his principal church. The first universities developed out of communities of clerical scholars who were each granted "a chair" from which to teach. With the creation of secular schools and universities, endowing a chair became an opportunity for alumni and friends to financially support a school and its faculty.

Head of School Karl Sjolund was pleased to make these most recent awards. "I am grateful to the donors who have made it possible for us to honor the hard work of our talented faculty," he said. "Doug and Geoffrey represent true leadership among our teachers in their commitment to their craft and to the school."