[University of the South] The Rt. Rev. Samuel Johnson (John) Howard, bishop of the Diocese of Florida, was elected the 24th chancellor of Sewanee: The University of the South at a meeting Oct. 9 of the university’s Board of Trustees.
Howard succeeds the Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, who had served as chancellor from October 2009 through July 2012. Alexander stepped down as chancellor to become dean of Sewanee’s School of Theology.
Howard, a native of North Carolina, was elected bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Florida and was consecrated in 2003. He was ordained as bishop of the diocese in January 2004. He has been a member of Sewanee’s Board of Trustees since 2004 and the Board of Regents since 2007, and received an honorary degree from the university in 2004.
Howard previously served as vicar of Trinity Church, Wall Street, in New York. Active in New York church and community activities, Howard served as president of John Heuss House, a homeless shelter in Manhattan, and as a board member of St. Margaret’s House, which furnishes housing for the elderly and mobility-impaired. He was one of the leaders of the congregation and staff of Trinity Church, Wall Street, and St. Paul’s Chapel in the wake of the events of Sept. 11, 2001. He assumed a leadership role in the city, speaking on a variety of issues regarding redevelopment of the World Trade Center site, transportation, and public services.
Prior to moving to New York, Howard served in Charleston, S.C., and in Charlotte, N.C. Howard graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary and was ordained in 1989. He practiced law before attending seminary, serving as an assistant U.S. attorney and federal public defender for the Eastern District of North Carolina. He also served as an attorney on the staff of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee.
In addition to being an alumnus of Virginia Theological Seminary, he is a graduate of Williams College and of the Law School of Wake Forest University.
During Alexander’s tenure as chancellor, Sewanee enjoyed record applications to the college, growth in the influence and reach of The School of Theology, and increasing recognition as a leading national liberal arts university. Alexander served as counselor and advisor to the vice-chancellor and the Board of Regents; during this time, the university made a bold move by reducing the tuition in both the college and The School of Theology and later freezing tuition rates for four years for undergraduate students and for three years for M.Div. students.
The chancellor is elected from the bishops of the university’s owning dioceses for a term of six years. The chancellor is president, ex officio, of the Board of Trustees and a member of the Board of Regents.
Sewanee: The University of the South comprises a nationally recognized College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, a School of Letters, and a distinguished School of Theology serving the Episcopal Church. Located on 13,000 acres atop Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau, Sewanee enrolls 1,400 undergraduates and approximately 80 seminarians in master’s and doctoral programs annually. Sewanee is owned by 28 Episcopal dioceses, the only university so directly related to the Episcopal Church.