Opening Convocation for the Easter semester of the University of the South will be held at noon Monday, Jan. 11, in All Saints' Chapel. Honorary degrees will be presented and new members will be inducted into the Order of Gownsmen. Leon Botstein, a conductor, musicologist, and college president, will give the Convocation address and will receive an honorary degree. Honorary degrees also will be presented during the Convocation to Harvard English Professor James Engell and Bishop of the Diocese of Mississippi Brian Seage.
Convocation will be streamed live for those who are unable to attend.
Leon Botstein is an orchestra conductor, musicologist, and college president who has pursued dual careers in music and education. He is the music director and principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra and president of Bard College in Annandale, New York, a member of the Association of Episcopal Colleges. Since becoming president of Bard College in 1975, he has extended the college’s reach internationally, guiding the creation of new programs on several continents while also leading Bard to become a forerunner in art and culture. Botstein, who is Bard’s Leon Levy Professor in the Arts and Humanities, has been a pioneer in linking the liberal arts and higher education to public secondary schools. During his 40-year tenure, Bard has established eight graduate schools, the Bard College Conservatory of Music, and the Levy Economics Institute. As music director of the American Symphony Orchestra and founder and co-artistic director of the Bard Music Festival, Botstein is known for his innovative programs and interest in contemporary and neglected repertory. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Music.
James Engell is Gurney Professor of English and professor of comparative literature at Harvard University and a faculty associate of the Harvard University Center for the Environment. Engell has taught at Harvard since 1978, and has taught environmental seminars at the National Humanities Center and for a consortium of nine North American and Asian universities. His award-winning book Environment: An Interdisciplinary Anthology was the first major anthology to apply a fully interdisciplinary approach to environmental studies. His 2005 book, Saving Higher Education in the Age of Money, addresses the value of the liberal arts and the “choice” today’s students are offered between the practical sciences or business and economic success or the traditional liberal arts and expected poverty. Engell earned both a bachelor’s and a doctorate degree from Harvard, devoting more than 40 years to the institution, and has received numerous teaching awards at his alma mater. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters.
The Rt. Rev. Brian R. Seage was elected bishop coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi in 2014, succeeding the Rt. Rev. Duncan M. Gray III as the 10th bishop of Mississippi in February 2015. In the Diocese of Mississippi, Seage served as a Fresh Start facilitator and on the diocese’s Executive Committee. He was also a member of the diocesan Restructure Task Force. Seage previously was the rector at St. Columb’s in Ridgeland, Mississippi, where he served since 2005. He holds an undergraduate degree from Pepperdine University and a master of divinity from the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest. An evangelist at heart, he is committed to inviting, transforming, and reconciling. Ordained a priest in 1998, Seage served in churches in Mississippi from 1998 to 2005. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Divinity.