Former Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. to give Founders’ Day address

joe riley
Former Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr.

Former Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. will be the speaker at Founders’ Day Convocation, which will be held at noon Friday, Oct. 7, and will open Sewanee’s 2016 Family Weekend. Riley will receive an honorary doctor of civil law degree during the ceremony. The Convocation will include the conferral of four additional honorary degrees and the induction of almost 300 new members into the Order of Gownsmen. The Convocation will be streamed live; watch it here.

During the Convocation, Diana Dillenberger Frade, founder of Our Little Roses Ministries in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, will receive an honorary doctor of civil law; American novelist William Timothy “Tim” O'Brien will receive an honorary doctor of letters; and the Rt. Rev. Canon George Sumner, bishop of the Diocese of Dallas, will receive an honorary doctor of divinity. The University also planned to present an honorary doctor of divinity to the Rt. Rev. Peter Eaton, bishop of the Diocese of Southeast Florida; however, Eaton had to return to Florida prior to Convocation, due to the threat from Hurricane Matthew.

Please note: Due to the number of Sewanee students receiving their gowns, the University expects All Saints' Chapel to be filled to near capacity. Students who are receiving their gowns have been provided tickets for themselves and three guests. After those with tickets have been seated, seats may be available in the Chapel for other members of the University community who would like to attend the service. Guests are welcome to watch the service streaming live in Guerry Auditorium or watch online.

Joe Riley retired in January 2016 after 40 years in office as mayor of Charleston, South Carolina, making him one of the country’s longest-serving mayors. Riley previously served in the South Carolina House of Representatives. His tenure as mayor saw the transformation of downtown Charleston from a decaying urban center to a top cultural destination. Known as a bridge-builder, Riley served as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, included African Americans in Charleston city administration for the first time, and appointed the city's first black police chief. He first gained national attention in 1989 following Hurricane Hugo, and was again in the spotlight last year when a racially-motivated gunman killed nine people at the Emanuel AME Church. A graduate of the Citadel and the University of South Carolina School of Law, Riley has received many awards, including South Carolina's Order of the Palmetto.

Diana Frade is the president and founder of Our Little Roses Ministries in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. In 1988, Frade founded Our Little Roses Home for Girls, a home for abandoned, abused, and orphaned girls, in a rented three-bedroom house. The ministries now include a full-time residential home for up to 65 girls; a transition home for older girls who are working and enrolled in university or trade school; and a bilingual school that serves approximately 25 girls from the home and 200 children from the community. Medical and dental clinics serve the home and the community. Frade has worked with leaders and child advocates throughout Honduras to develop the Our Little Roses ministry that has sheltered and transformed hundreds of girls.

Tim O'Brien is an American novelist best known for his work of fiction, The Things They Carried, a critically acclaimed collection of semi-autobiographical short stories inspired by O’Brien’s experiences in the Vietnam War, and his novel, Going After Cacciato, also written about wartime Vietnam. He served in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970 before going on to graduate school at Harvard University. Among numerous other awards, O’Brien received the National Book Award in Fiction in 1979 for Going After Cacciato, and in 2005 The Things They Carried was named by The New York Times as one of the 20 best books of the last quarter century. O’Brien is a founding faculty member of the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and has served as a member of the conference’s fiction faculty 10 times. He will read from his work at 4:45 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, in Convocation Hall.

The Rt. Rev. Canon George Sumner was ordained bishop of the Diocese of Dallas in 2015. Prior to his election, Sumner served as Helliwell Professor of World Mission and principal of Wycliffe College in Toronto. He has served in a variety of capacities—youth minister, missionary teacher in east Africa, curate in an inner-city Anglo-Catholic parish, vicar on a Native American reservation in New Mexico and Arizona, and rector in a small town. Sumner has a Ph.D. in theology from Yale and a master’s in divinity from Yale Divinity School. His books include The First and the Last: The Claim of Jesus Christ and the Claims of Other Religious Traditions, Unwearied Praises (with Jeff Greenman), and Being Salt.