Alumni return to camus to revisit Transylvania experience
Transylvania welcomed more than 600 alumni to campus and Lexington April 27-29 for Alumni Weekend. The celebrations kicked off with the traditional golf outing and culminated in the Robert Barr Society luncheon at the home of President and Mrs. R. Owen Williams.
The theme of the weekend was “Return. Remember. Renew.” Alumni took that theme to heart, reconnecting with old friends and reminiscing about their time at Transylvania.
Julie Dodd ’72, journalism professor at the University of Florida, addressed a group of alumni, faculty, and staff at the alumni celebration luncheon Saturday in the William T. Young Campus Center. She encouraged the alumni to hop into the time machines in their minds and travel back to their college days.
Dodd reflected on her first day on Transylvania’s campus in 1968. She talked about the experience of unloading her “technology,” consisting of a clock radio, hairdryer, and electric typewriter, which drew laughs from the audience.
She also described some pranks—a tried and true college tradition—that she pulled with her friends. One such event involved climbing onto the roof of Forrer Hall and throwing oranges at the men’s basketball team, then dodging the return tosses.
“Remembering those lapses of good judgment helps me to be more understanding when I work with college students in my job at the University of Florida,” she said. “When they tell me about an unwise stunt that they pulled that explains why they missed class or turned in a paper late, I’m a little bit more sympathetic.”
A common theme among alumni at events like Alumni Weekend is how, when they look back on their Transylvania experience, they realize what a great opportunity they had attending a school that has such a culture of community and learning. Dodd expressed those same sentiments, recounting a six-week travel course to Europe and the effect of the Vietnam War on college campuses around the country. She described a situation where University of Kentucky students held a protest rally on the steps of Mitchell Fine Arts Center and the National Guard came to campus with rifles to shut it down.
“Transylvania faculty embraced those learning opportunities for us in the classroom,” Dodd said. “I took classes in black literature and women’s literature, and what a great experience it was to study the whole process of human change. The readings, writings, and discussions promoted critical thinking and a better awareness of the ongoing process of human existence.”
Concluding her presentation, Dodd challenged her fellow alumni to reclaim the fearlessness and sense of discovery they cultivated while at Transylvania.
“Remember those times when we may have had some doubts about our decisions—maybe even about ourselves—as we had so much that we were contending with,” she said. “We were out of our comfort zone. We were having new experiences, learning new skills, and meeting new people, and we were learning a new life routine—including laundry. And look at how well it all turned out.
“We return to campus to remember our experiences as students and to renew our special friendships. I encourage us to renew that sense of adventure we had as students, willing to try new things and being open to new experiences.”
During the luncheon, the Alumni Association elected David Johnson ’92 president of the Alumni Executive Board and Rachelle Williams Dodson ’98 president-elect.