It is my duty and honor to thank Dr. Lytle for his service. He was appointed as Dean by Dr. Samuel Williamson, the XIVth Vice-Chancellor of the University of the South. During the years following Dean Lytle’s appointment, he made significant contributions to the mission of this School that no subsequent developments should obscure. He brought to Sewanee the considerable stature he had won as scholar and church historian, and as Dean carried a full load of teaching with brio. His professional study of the history of the clergy in the context of Anglican ecclesiology and spirituality buttressed his contemporary concern to clarify the nature and improve the quality of Episcopal priests. That led to his appointment to national commissions, committees, symposiums, and lectureships. Combined with his vigorous representation of the School in the offices of bishops around the church and his peripatetic preaching and speaking, he brought wide recognition to Sewanee. Vigorous work in recruitment led to years of the largest enrollment the School has ever enjoyed. That in turn permitted him to create new positions on the faculty. He appointed young scholars who multiplied the perspectives and approaches available to students. Financial support by dioceses and parishes expanded: One Percent Plan parish contributions rose to levels they have never since approached. Large gifts came in for the scholarship endowment of the School, which has helped make Sewanee one of two Episcopal seminaries that can offer very substantial financial aid to all students who need it. Dean Lytle’s close work with the XIVth Vice-Chancellor and Provost led to the resolution of many long-standing issues between the University, the College, and the School. Not least among them was clarification of the financial standing of the School, eliminating a great part of the friction over the School’s budget and endowment that had beset his predecessors.
Dr. Lytle made many other contributions to the School’s mission. Among them, he helped create the Visiting Committee, one of the chief means by which the seminary comes into dialogue with the wider church and community. His strong support helped move The St. Luke’s Journal of Theology into the fresh directions it took as The Sewanee Theological Review, and it has flourished ever since. During his deanship, Education for Ministry, Disciples of Christ in Community, Galilee Moments, and other major programs for the wider church grew and blossomed in the School’s Programs Center. The annual Anglican Tour of England was his creation; for years he led large groups in a brilliantly narrated pilgrimage through the holy (and less holy but refreshing) sites in the England he knows so well.