Inauguration Ceremonies Set for Transylvania’s 25th President

by Josh Travis

The inauguration of Transylvania’s 25th president, Dr. R. Owen Williams, will take place over the course of three days, starting Wednesday, April 27, and concluding with the inauguration ball on Friday, April 29.

President R. Owen Williams will officially be inaugurated on Friday, April 29.

Williams has been serving as president of Transy since the beginning of the academic year, though the inauguration was delayed.

“The inauguration (of university presidents) is usually in the first semester (of a president’s tenure), sometimes in the second semester and sometimes it’s not even until the beginning of the next year,” said Dr. William Pollard, vice president and dean of the college.

Because Williams was not appointed as the new president until late last spring, scheduling the inauguration until well after he began his presidency allowed for better planning of the events, Pollard said.

“One of the reasons we picked this time period was we wanted it to be spring, and we wanted it to be done along with student events and alumni weekend,” Pollard said.

In celebration of Williams’ inauguration, the three days will include a multitude of events and activities for students, faculty and the community.

The kickoff for the students will take place on Wednesday, April 27.

“At 5 p.m. there’s going to be a Bluegrass barbecue,” said Kelly Lavy, Transylvania’s events coordinator.

The barbecue will include a live performance by Aly’an, a country duet band that features Andrea Warner, a 2010 Transy graduate.

The cafeteria will be closed for dinner that day, and all students are encouraged to eat at the barbecue, Lavy said.

Following the barbecue, a student art exhibition and student fine arts showcase will be hosted in the Morlan Gallery.

“There’s also some other interesting events going on Thursday, which you can find on the Internet,” Lavy said.

These events include a tour of Keeneland Race Track, a Civil War archaeological tour led by associate professor of anthropology Dr. Chris Begley and a walking tour through the historic Gratz Park. Students are welcome to join in on these events. However, there are a limited number of spots, so students are encouraged to register to participate as soon as possible.

“One of the central features is the symposium,” Pollard said.

The symposium will take place on that Thursday from 3 to 5 p.m. A symposium is a discussion-based presentation on a specific academic topic. The symposium is entitled “The Civil War and Reconstruction in the Border States: History and Memory at the Sesquicentennial.”

Williams earned a doctorate in American history from Yale University, where he focused his attention mainly on the Civil War. According to Pollard, this is when he became familiar with Transylvania and studied a number of historical figures who attended the university.

“A lot of what (Williams) focused on was how the Supreme Court dealt with freed slaves right after the civil war,” Pollard said.

Students can expect to see Congressman Ben Chandler, Gov. Steve Beshear, federal judge and Transy alumna Karen Caldwell, and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray at one or more events. There will also be a number of presidents from other universities, Pollard said.

The official inauguration of President Williams will take place on Friday, April 29, at 10 a.m. on the Old Morrison front lawn. All classes will be moved to the afternoon that day so that students and faculty can attend.

At the installation ceremony, Williams will give his inaugural speech and a number of honorary degrees will be awarded to various attendees.

The inauguration celebration will conclude with the Inauguration Ball at 9 p.m. Friday, which will be held at the downtown Lexington Hilton. The ball will include dancing, music by a 12-piece band and the crowning of Miss Transylvania and Mr. Pioneer.

“It’s an opportunity for everyone to come together and welcome the president to the students, the alumni, the faculty and the community,” Pollard said. “We want it to highlight Transylvania and make people aware of Transylvania. We want the visitors who come to get a sense of our students and faculty.”

For a complete list of the inauguration events and to register for the events with limited space, go to

All of the events, except the two dinners on Thursday and Friday night, are open to the students.

“They’re not only allowed to attend, they’re encouraged,” Pollard said.


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