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Historic Gifts Challenge Others to Support the Sewanee Guarantee

October 9, 2016

The Stronger Truer Sewanee campaign will raise resources that ensure access, value, and opportunity for all students—in the college and seminary—through handsome expansion of financial aid resources that help hold the line on the cost of education and broad expansion of funding for career-shaping internships. This story shows how gifts are already transforming Sewanee, ensuring access, providing value, and securing opportunity.


A generous gift of almost $8 million to the University of the South will help support Sewanee’s strong commitment to keeping the cost of a top-quality college education as accessible as possible. The gift to support financial aid, from the estate of Emerson C. Winstead Jr., C’50, and Laura Battle Winstead, is the fourth largest single gift in Sewanee’s history, and the largest single gift to support financial aid.

“By supporting financial aid, the Winsteads have made the Sewanee experience possible for students who otherwise may not have access to such a special place and exceptional education,” said Vice-Chancellor John McCardell. “We are grateful for their generosity, their recognition of the importance of a liberal arts education, and their commitment to helping deserving students attend Sewanee.”

For Vice-Chancellor John McCardell, the Winstead gift presents an opportunity to restore Sewanee’s long commitment to meeting 100 percent of the demonstrated need of admitted students. The historic gift combined with a $12 million estate commitment from a member of the Class of 1963 presents a $20 million challenge. “We hope friends of Sewanee will respond by matching this $20 million with an additional $20 million in scholarship dollars."

“When I left here in 2001, Sewanee was meeting the full need of all students,” says Lee Ann Backlund, dean of admission. “A couple of years later, we left that policy behind, and the gap between ability to pay and our ability to support has widened ever since.”

That the cost of higher education is increasing more rapidly than general inflation is well known. Moreover, the impact of tuition increases has a negative effect on both students and the institutions that serve them. Growing gaps between families’ ability to pay and the cost puts stress on affordability. That reality led Vice-Chancellor McCardell in 2010 to ask the Board of Regents to show national leadership by approving a 10 percent cut in tuition and fees and institute a tuition guarantee that freezes costs for students during their time at Sewanee. That’s the Sewanee Guarantee.

Sewanee provides more than $26 million in institutional aid each year. In the 2015–2016 academic year, 81 percent of University students received some form of gift aid, including University aid, scholarships, remissions, and state or federal grants. And more than 40 percent of freshmen last year received need-based aid.

If you are interested in a gift that goes beyond current-use dollars, named endowed internship funds begin at the $100,000 level. Named endowed scholarship funds begin at the $150,000 level for the College and $75,000 for the School of Theology.