When Joanne Boyd C’77 was a student at Sewanee, she was preparing to be a veterinarian with a biology major and fulfilling the pre-med requirements. As a senior, however, a visit to her state’s veterinary school left her unimpressed with the campus of a large research university that had none of the charm of Sewanee. One of her political science professors assured her that law school was a better choice, so she took the professor's advice and went to law school.
Now, forty years later, two things have remained constant in Boyd’s life and career: her love of Sewanee and her love of animals.That is why she has left Sewanee in her will for a large part of her estate, but only after the future of her animals is secured through a pet trust.
“I am uniquely situated to give back to an institution that has meant a lot to me,” she says. “Sewanee is important to me not just because of the education it provides, but because it teaches students that ethics matter. The honor code is so central to the Sewanee experience; it is respected by everyone on campus. In my professional life, when I know someone is a Sewanee graduate, I feel I know and understand their values."
After spending 16 years as a corporate lawyer for two public companies, Boyd took a year to add an LL.M in environmental law from Tulane to her J.D. from Alabama. She was drawn to the field when she observed how inconsistently the regulatory establishment was enforcing environmental laws. “I represent the people who are trying to do right but either do not have the knowledge or the resources they need to understand the laws,” she says.
Boyd was working with a client in a run-down industrial area near Birmingham and started seeing stray dogs on the side of the road. Then she started noticing that a dog she saw one day would be dead on the side of the road the next and often mutilated. Those stray dogs were being used in dog fighting, and she knew she had to rescue them. She started with one, then a few. “Eventually I was quite proficient at picking up stray dogs off the road and became overwhelmed with the number of dogs I had at my farm. Then, I discovered listing dogs on the web and found I had so many people wanting dogs, I could be very selective with the homes." She does not place puppies or small dogs in homes with children under six, requires a vet reference and a fenced yard.
Boyd believes that when she gives to Sewanee, she is giving to a community. “It’s a community, where I often see the people with whom I developed relationships in the 70's. Members of my class often meet at Sewanee, and I think my gift is a way of honoring those friendships.” This planned gift through an estate commitment also honors her commitment to the good life of her canine and equine friends, ensuring that they will be well cared for, and she will use Alabama’s pet trust provision to make that work, a true application of the EQB ethic.