‘Lunch and Learn’ Set for May 30


The next Lifelong Learning “Lunch and Learn” will be from noon to 1 p.m., Tuesday, May 30, at Convocation Hall. Bran Potter, retired professor of geology, will present the program. The cost is $10 per talk or $40 for an annual membership. You may pay online <https://sewaneealumni1.wufoo.com/forms/lunch-and-learn-series/>;. or at the door. Water/soft drinks/cookies provided. Feel free to bring a brown bag lunch.

For more information, contact the Sewanee Center for Lifelong Learning (SCLL) at <sewaneelifelonglearning@sewanee.edu>.

Professor Bran Potter was a member of Sewanee’s faculty from 1980 until he retired in 2019. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Williams College, and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Massachusetts.

As the Robert M. Ayres Jr. Distinguished University Chair, he taught courses on structural geology, tectonics, and sedimentology in the Earth and Environmental Systems Department, as well as several interdisciplinary programs.

Over the course of his career at Sewanee, Potter immeasurably enriched the program of the Geology Department and the life of the College. He initiated and directed the summer study-away program “Geology of the American West,” exposing hundreds of Sewanee students to an incredible experience on the Colorado Plateau. His popular “Walking the Land” course brought together a literature-based course with the experience of traveling the Domain.

Potter was instrumental in the development of the first-year program, known as Finding Your Place or “FYP,” allowing first-year students to gain exposure to a wide variety of course offerings made available to them through a range of academic departments and interdisciplinary programs.

In 2002, Potter was named Tennessee Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, one of the most prestigious awards honoring professors who excel as teachers and who influence the lives and careers of students.

With his wife, Cindy, Potter served for over a decade as the director of the popular Sewanee Summer Seminar, providing educational experiences for countless alumni. This generosity of sharing his teaching with alumni is expansive; he offered to lead an alumni travel program patterned after his student trip, and he was a regular on the Sewanee Club tour, visiting with alumni in cities across the country. You could often catch him at Growing in Grace and other places around campus, serenading students with his guitar. Potter exemplifies what is most distinctive about a Sewanee education—talented professors who care deeply about their students. His former students will tell you that his impact on their lives has transcended the classroom.

What he adds to the student experience is matched only by Potter’s impact on the community. He has been an instructor for the Friends of South Cumberland State Park, teaching a certification program for the Tennessee Naturalist Program. In 2011, he received the Harry Yeatman Environmental Education Award. Named for noted environmental educator Professor Emeritus Harry Yeatman by the Trails & Trilliums Festival, the award honors a person who has made an impact on the South Cumberland Plateau through dedication to this place and by educating others to appreciate it. As past chairs of the Sewanee Community Chest, the Potters led the campaign to fund local community projects and programs that benefit residents in three counties on the Plateau. Potter brings a voice of reason and compassion to these and countless other community efforts.

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