WILLIAMS INAUGURATED: Transy officially installs 25th president

photo by HB Elam

Dean William Pollard looks on as newly inaugurated President Owen Williams is presented to the crowd on April 29.

Staff Report

It’s official. After several months on the job, Dr. R. Owen Williams was inaugurated as Transylvania University’s 25th president on Friday, April 29.

The week of the inauguration began under tornado warnings and ended under a bright, sunny sky. The three-day event culminated on the lawn of Old Morrison when Williams was presented with the ceremonial mace and medallion.

The ceremony followed the theme of Williams’ inaugural speech, “Question Everything, Accomplish Anything.”

photo by HB Elam

The Transylvanian Choir sings the alma matter, "Hail Transylvania."

“That is what we do at Transylvania: We question everything,” Williams said.

During his speech, Williams’ sister, Valerie Winn, translated it into sign language. Williams chose to remind the audience of the austere history of Transy and its progress throughout the years and then outlined his plans to move it forward and increase its success.

“I look forward to our continued resilience, reflection and resolve, to the journey that lies ahead, to being part of the pioneering family of Transylvania, to the many questions that we will ask and to the accomplishment of our dreams,” said Williams.

Attending the ceremony were Governor Steve Beshear and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray along with Chairman of the Board of Trustees William T. Young Jr., several other members of the board and multiple alumni.

During the ceremony Beshear named Williams a Kentucky Colonel, the highest honor issued by the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

“(Williams) has made it very clear that his mind is focused in a laser-like fashion on not only what Transylvania has been, but on what it can be in the future,” said Beshear.

Young, Professor of Philosophy Jack Furlong, Tammie Williams, senior Jessica Beard and Judge Karen Caldwell ’77 all agreed in their greetings that Williams was up to the task of taking the reins of Transylvania.

“Owen Williams is the right person to lead Transylvania into the next century and into the rankings of the top liberal arts colleges,” said Young.

According to the inauguration’s website, the inaugural events were made possible by donations from 25 different sources. In addition, an anonymous donor pledged a matching gift of up to $1 million for any donations of $10,000 or more.

“We are working on the final numbers, but we have surpassed the goal,” said Kirk Purdom, newly appointed vice president for advancement.

This means that with the matching donation, and subsequent gifts, the Inauguration Challenge raised over $2 million.

Williams received congratulatory letters from hundreds of colleges and universities from around the country in celebration of his appointment. Letters were received from Dartmouth College, Princeton University, Columbia Theological Seminary, the University of Notre Dame and the United States Naval Academy, among others.

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