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Bryan gift expands business opportunities

December 16, 2016

Sewanee is well known for the intellectual rigor of its classes, for its lack of grade inflation, and for standing on a firm foundation of traditional academic disciplines. Even through the generational turnover of faculty, these principles are unaltered. At the same time, Sewanee is building new, integrative and interdisciplinary programs such as pre-health, business, civic engagement, and environmental studies. And, the Stronger Truer Sewanee campaign is helping to ensure that these new approaches will prepare students for their futures while honoring the institution’s past.

One of these integrative programs is the innovative W. Polk Carey Business Program, a combination of curricular education offered through a business minor and co-curricular enrichment made available through the Babson Center for Global Commerce. The business minor, the fastest growing academic unit on campus, gives students academic grounding, and the Babson Center gives students the career orientation they need to make meaningful contributions in the realm of global commerce. Finance, international development, entrepreneurship, and social enterprise are all areas where students learn how to address the challenges they will face after college.

“I’m very enthusiastic about the Babson Center for Global Commerce” says JF Bryan, C’65. “It’s terrifically important that we have a business minor. It’s important to our parents, and it’s important to the College. The Babson Center is a key asset for our students because it helps them translate their liberal arts education into business success.”

Bryan made his campaign commitment in conjunction with his 50th reunion gift in 2015. He is deeply interested in great outcomes for Sewanee students and in making sure that students are exposed to positive models for considering careers in business.  “The only contact I ever had with a business person at Sewanee was with the beer distributor in Tullahoma when I was buying beer for Sigma Nu parties,” Bryan says with a laugh. “It seemed like students at Sewanee were preparing to be doctors, lawyers, priests, and professors, but not many were preparing for business.”

To alter that balance, Bryan has been a key supporter of the Babson Center for Global Commerce and the business minor. He established the Bryan Viewpoints series, a lecture series sponsored by the Babson Center, and he also hopes to designate his internship funds to students preparing for business. Finally, he made a lead gift to a project to build a director’s endowment for the Babson Center.

“What I am trying to do with my support of the Babson Center is balance the scales a bit. The Bryan Viewpoints series brings successful and accomplished business leaders to campus, and the internships give students the kind of integrative and real world experience that is necessary for them to succeed in business after college.”

Bryan is now delivering vocational experiences to campus even more effectively than he supplied beer in the early 1960s. The result: great outcomes for students in their post-college lives. “Sewanee has always been about the spiritual and intellectual development of its students,” he says. “Those goals are especially important now. At the same time, we need to be about the practical development of students, exposing them to good models in the business world and giving them the opportunity for practical application of their intellectual and spiritual capacity in the world of commerce.”

Bryan hopes his gift to the directorship will inspire others to support the Babson Center to ensure a succession of leadership for this important 21st-century program. 


If you are interested in a gift that goes beyond current-use dollars, named endowed internship funds begin at the $100,000 level. Named endowed scholarship funds begin at the $150,000 level for the College and $75,000 for the School of Theology.