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Board Member Spotlight

Charles Fels

Charles FelsCharles Fels is a lawyer and a priest.

As a lawyer Charles prosecuted criminal cases in three different jurisdictions before defending individuals accused of crime all over the United States. His peers named him a member of “The Best Lawyers in America” for fifteen successive years, during which time he taught and spoke to groups of lawyers in twenty different states and two foreign countries. His professional work took him to Amman, Jordan; San Jose Costa Rica, Manilla in the Philippines, Brussels, Paris and the Beaufort Sea, north of the Arctic Circle.

As a priest in the Episcopal church, Charles served in Washington, DC, New York City and Knoxville, where he first discovered and enjoyed the rich diversity of faith traditions and the remarkable teaching abilities of the faculty in the Department of Religious Studies.

Charles attended Stanford University where he received a BA in 18th century English Literature;  Vanderbilt University for an MA in American Colonial History and a JD in Law; and Virginia Theological Seminary where he received an MDiv.

Charles is married to the indefatigably cheerful and energetic Susan Sgarlat, a classmate at Vanderbilt Law School. Susan practiced law on Wall Street before serving in the Office of General Counsel at Columbia University. Susan obtained her Mdiv at Union Theological Seminary before becoming a UT Hospice Chaplain in Knoxville.

Susan and Charles married after Charles graduated from seminary and their wedding was featured in the Sunday “Vows Column” in the New York Times

Between them Charles and Susan have four children, living in New York City, Knoxville, Oakland and Hawi, Hawaii. Their two grandchildren Tohaana and Alowaan Standing Horse live in Oakland with their parents and three urban chickens.

Charles  embraces with great joy the privilege of serving the Department of Religious Studies as a member of the Board of Visitors. To him, the Department is the jewel in the crown of the University of Tennessee.

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