Winter Convocation to be held January 19

david crabtree

The University of the South’s Winter Convocation will be held at 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19, in All Saints' Chapel. Honorary degrees will be presented and approximately 110 new members will be inducted into the Order of the Gown. Nancy Berner will be installed the eighth provost of the University.

The Rev. David Crabtree, an award-winning broadcast journalist as well as an ordained deacon, will give the Convocation address and will receive an honorary doctor of civil law degree. An honorary doctor of fine arts degree also will be conferred upon costume designer Toni-Leslie James, associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Convocation will be streamed live for those who are unable to attend.

The Rev. David Crabtree is a news anchor and reporter for WRAL-TV in North Carolina and an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church. He graduated from Middle Tennessee State University, attended Vanderbilt Divinity School, and is completing a masters of theology at Duke Divinity School. Crabtree’s awards include 15 Emmys and the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters 2014 Anchor of the Year. He has been awarded the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for his work focusing on migrant workers’ living conditions, and the Gabriel Award from the Catholic Press Association for reporting that uplifts and nourishes the human spirit. Crabtree was ordained in 2004 as permanent deacon in the Diocese of North Carolina, with a focus on end of life care and a particular emphasis on hospice care and North Carolina’s death row.

Crabtree will give a talk titled “Where is God in the Newsroom?” at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18, in Convocation Hall. The public is invited to the talk.

Toni-Leslie James is a costume designer for stage, television, and film, and an associate professor and head of design in the theatre department of Virginia Commonwealth University. She has designed for Broadway, regional theatre, opera, dance, film, and television. Her Broadway credits include costume designs for Finian’s Rainbow, Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life, Footloose, The Tempest, and Jelly’s Last Jam. James has 38 costume design nominations or awards, and has won numerous awards, among them the 2009 Obie Award for Sustained Costume Design Excellence, and the 2011 National Black Theatre Festival Outstanding Costume Designer of the Year Award. Her work has been displayed in nine major museum and college exhibitions, and the American Museum of Natural History showed a 2006 retrospective of her career.

Nancy J. Berner was named the eighth provost of the University in July 2017. She received B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Idaho before earning a Ph.D. in biological sciences from Stanford University. She taught in Sewanee’s biology department for 20 years before becoming associate provost in 2012. Berner has also served the University as department chair and as Interim Associate Dean of the College, was elected to two three-year terms on the Board of Trustees, and holds the William Henderson Professorship in biology. As provost, Berner is the chief operating officer of the University, overseeing academic and administrative operations including human resources; information technology and the library; environmental stewardship and sustainability; sponsored research; and risk management.