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What's in the Name?

While our name may conjure images of dark castles and vampires, our Transylvania — a friendly, top-notch liberal arts college — is located in Lexington, Kentucky, far from the lands of Romanian legend.

The name Transylvania comes from Latin and means “across the woods” — a good description of the vast, heavily forested area between the Ohio and Cumberland rivers first settled by American colonists in the 1770s. A group of pioneers (whose chief scout was Daniel Boone) chose the name Transylvania Colony when they established a settlement near modern-day Lexington.

The colony didn’t last. The name, however, lived on when the Virginia Assembly chartered our institution as Transylvania Seminary in 1780. We've been known by several different names over the years, even going by Transylvania College for more than half of the 20th century before finally returning to the historic name of Transylvania University in 1966.

Since our name reminds some of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula, members of the Transylvania community often have fun with the parallel — especially during the week of Halloween, as theater professor Tim Soulis proves with his interpretation of the count. Don’t worry, though — our students don’t sparkle like Edward Cullen, and neither Buffy Summers nor Sookie Stackhouse has visited our campus. At least, as far as we know.


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