Three-day event marks historical first for Transy

by James Huddleston

The inauguration of Dr. R. Owen Williams as the 25th president of Transylvania University marked the first time in Transy’s history that such an event took place.

Dr. Charles Shearer (1983-2010) did not receive a formal inaugural ceremony, nor did his two predecessors, Dr. David Brown (1982-1983) and Dr. William Kelly (1976-1981).

In Transy’s long history, the notion of a three-day event to celebrate a new president is a new one, according to the department of public relations.

Shearer, Williams’ predecessor and the university’s longest-serving president, was inaugurated during the class of 1983’s commencement.

“My circumstances were very different in 1983,” said Shearer. “There had been some turnover in the president’s office, and in part, because of that, we did not have the traditional inauguration.”

Going back even further, Brown received no formal inauguration whatsoever due to his brief, one-year term, and Kelly’s inauguration took place in the form of a symposium on higher education, attended by more faculty than students or the general public, in April 1977, according to “Transylvania: Tutor to the West,” by John Wright.

In contrast to the inaugurations of the past, which ranged from modest to nonexistent, Williams’ inauguration was celebrated over a period of three days.

Vice President and Dean of the College William Pollard explained that the timing and length of the inauguration were carefully planned.

“In the case of President Williams’ inauguration, we thought it would be good to have it coincide with Alumni Weekend and with the receptions honoring graduating seniors,” Pollard said. “A more general advantage of waiting for spring includes allowing time for a new president and a college or university to get to know each other, so that the ceremony and surrounding events are a celebration of the institution, as well as an official welcoming of the president.”

“I thought the inauguration ceremony went very well on a beautiful day in front of Old Morrison,” said Shearer.  “It was a pleasure to be there, and I wish President Williams and Transylvania much success in the future.”


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