On the rampart between the American University Gothic buildings of Walsh-Ellett and Carnegie halls at Sewanee, University plant personnel have set up a stylish classroom, thanks to a gift from Matt Stringer, C’10, and his mother, Sarah Stringer. A real slate chalkboard scrawled with notes about market theory is affixed to the wall, “on loan from the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science.” And cubed outdoor seating is arranged in graceful arcs around a small perimeter. It’s the best of both worlds: chalkboard and comfortable seating under the blue skies of Sewanee.
The gift is made in memory of Ken Stringer, who passed away in May of 2004 when Matt was a sophomore in high school. A practicing attorney in Fort Worth who had attended the University of Texas, Stringer was a member of St. John's Episcopal Church and served on the Vestry and as chairman of the Outreach Committee. He worked as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and the Presbyterian Night Shelter. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Baden Powell Scout Association and the Foster Park Neighborhood Association.
“We wanted to make a gift in memory of my dad,” says Matt, “and the University suggested this classroom. I was able to see it last year at my fifth year reunion, and it was fantastic. We were really happy with the way it turned out. It’s designed to stand up to the elements, and Sewanee classes should be able to enjoy it for a long time to come.”
The plaque reads, “This outdoor classroom is made possible by a gift from Matthew Guyon Stringer C’10 and Sarah Golding Stringer in memory of Kenneth Neely Stringer.”
“My father did not have the opportunity to ever see Sewanee, but I know that he would have loved it,” says Matt. “This classroom is a way to incorporate his legacy here.”
As a living legacy, Matt is following his father’s footsteps toward the law, and, like Kenneth, has a well developed sense of social justice. At Sewanee, Matt was an economics major and completed a social entrepreneurship internship under the direction of Yasmeen Mohiuddin. The social entrepreneurship program is designed to teach students how to connect their passions for improving the lives of others through profitable businesses.
At Southern Methodist University, where he will earn a J.D. in 2016, he is president of the American Constitution Society. “It’s like the progressive counterweight to the Federalist Society,” he says. “We are trying to advance a progressive vision of the constitution through networking, education, and debate."
“We are really grateful to the Stringer Family,” says Terri Williams, director of development. “At Sewanee, we pride ourselves on being a place where people develop close relationships with professors and their peers, and so having well-designed places for people to gather is central to our identity. The Stringer Classroom is just one of those places, a tribute to Mr. Stringer and this wonderful family."