Robert E. Reese
The Reverend Robert E. Reese C' 71
My experience as a philosophy major at Sewanee was very positive. I had not had any exposure to philosophy prior to college since it was not offered in my high school. The Introduction to Philosophy course I took as a freshman at Sewanee in 1967 with Dr. Garland opened the door to a new and exciting world. After the first semester, I knew I would be a philosophy major.
I was not a brilliant student at Sewanee; I did not graduate "with honors." Nevertheless, I took as many philosophy courses as the administration would allow. Philosophy not only challenged me, but I grew tremendously both intellectually and personally as a result of my interaction with the course material and my teachers, Dr. Bill Garland and Dr. Hugh Caldwell. These men were excellent mentors, and I appreciated their support of me as a person.
After graduating as a philosophy major in 1971, I decided to become an Episcopal priest and earned a Master in Divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1974. My philosophy major at Sewanee prepared me for theological studies and for a professional vocation as a priest for the past 26 years. I have effectively served four congregations, and I was an active duty Episcopal Chaplain in the United States Army for nine years. I have had five quarters of Clinical Pastoral Education, and I later earned a Doctor of Ministry from Virginia Seminary
In a word, philosophy at Sewanee taught me how to think. It taught me how to be objective, intellectually flexible, and yet critical and discerning of ideas, values and belief systems. For me, a major role of an effective leader is to help people formulate a sound and exciting vision for themselves and their community. As a leader in the church, the study of philosophy has provided me the resources I need to encourage individuals and communities to use effective thought processes to formulate visions and goals, which actualize sound Christian beliefs and healthy values. Philosophy at Sewanee provided me an academic and intellectual foundation which has served me well, and for which I am most grateful. I would encourage others to consider taking philosophy to help prepare them to meet the intellectual challenges of living in a very complex world.