Friends of Major Butt Would Erect a Memorial Gymnasium at His Alma Mater, Sewanee, to Whose Endowment Fund J. P. Morgan Has Promised $150,000
High on the Cumberland plateau, midway between Nashville and Chatanooga, [sic] in a timbered park of 10,000 acres, is the university of the South commonly known as Sewanee, which is unique among American institutions. Founded just before the war, crippled during that conflict, and apparently moribund on the resumption of peace, the university sprang again into active life, and to use the words of President Schurinan of Cornell, during a recent visit, "stands for the fundamentals"; that is, it believes in an education grounded in the humanities, and deeper still, based upon the teachings of the Christian religion.
Sewanee is "far from the madding crowd," with its nearest neighbors the mountaineers of the lost coves and valleys, but it has within its gates culture, refinement, social, and intellectual life which are surpassed nowhere in the South.
The college is the property of the Episcopal Church in the South, but it is in no sense sectarian. Modeled roughly along the lines of Oxford, its intellectual and spiritual atmosphere is that of freedom. Throughout its fifty years of life its one motto has been "Magna est Veritas et Praevalebit." It is doubtful whether any university in America can boast of a deeper degree of freedom that is found in the professorial chairs of Sewanee. At present it has but 200 students.
Sewanee's endowment was swept away during the war, and although to-day she has property valued at $750,000, the endowment is only 300,000. Throughout the reconstruction period, it was impossible for the Southerner to aid his university, and her life has been one of poverty and self-sacrifice. Yet during the half century of her existence, she has educated and sent out into the world many well-known men, including the Rev. Dr. William T. Manning, rector of Trinity Church, New York; Edgar Gardner Murphy, John Sharp Williams, Leroy Percy, and Luke Lea, Senators from Mississippi and Tennessee; the Rev. William P. Du Bose, Major Archibald Butt, aid to President Roosevelt and President Taft, and Col. William C. Gorgas, M. D., LL. D., D. Sc., to whose scientific skill the sanitary redemption of the Panama district is due.
The enthusiasm over Major Butt's heroism at the sinking of the Titanic has been Nation wide, and the desire is growing to perpetuate his valor by a lasting memorial at his Alma Mater, which shall be of an enduring character. Major Butt was a noted athlete, and many of his friends have felt that no more fitting memorial could be projected than a great gymnasium at Sewanee. The amount necessary to build, equip, and endow this would be not less than $250,000, and Senator Luke Lea is now formulating plans by which all those who cherish the memory of Major Butt may contribute to the purpose.
A strong effort has been made the past year to increase the meagre endowment of an institution which is doing a fine work not only for the South but the Nation. Dr. James H. Dillard of the Southern Education Board said last Winter at a public dinner in New York: "If I had $2,000,000, and wanted, as I do, to spend it for the best advantage of the South, rich and poor, black and white, I would give exery [sic] dollar of it to Sewanee, to aid her in the work she is doing now."
Andrew Carnegie's interest in the institution has been shown by his gift of $60,000 for a science hall, now under construction, the equipment of which will no doubt be obtained from friends of the institution.
J. Pierpont Morgan has promised $150,000 to the endowment, which is expected to be in hand at commencement. Friends and alumni from every State in the Union will gather for the annual celebration, Col. Gorgas will come from Panama to deliver the commencement oration, and the Rev. Dr. Floyd N. Tomkins of Philadelphia will preach the commencement sermon.
Related Biographies:Archibald Willingham Butt