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Shearer awarded honorary degree by the University of Kentucky

Transylvania president emeritus Charles L. Shearer was awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree at the December commencement exercises of the University of Kentucky for his lifetime service to higher education.

Shearer was selected as president of Transylvania in 1983, beginning a distinguished 27-year tenure that is the longest in the university’s history. He had previously served four years as vice president for finance.

Under his presidency, enrollment grew from 655 to an all-time high of 1,153 in 2008, a 76 percent increase. The endowment increased by 339 percent, growing from $32.8 million in 1983 to a record high of $144 million by 2007.

Academic quality of the student body and faculty was a priority for Shearer. William T. Young Scholars, who received the university’s most prestigious scholarship, grew from 10 each year to 25, and the innovative Bingham Program for Excellence in Teaching provided financial rewards to high-achieving professors. The David and Betty Jones Fund for Faculty Development and the Kenan Fund for Faculty and Student Enrichment further bolstered academic resources.

The physical campus underwent major change during Shearer’s tenure. Working at the direction of the Board of Trustees, he oversaw the completion of 13 new buildings, athletics fields, and major renovations at a total cost of $53.5 million.

Transylvania was twice ranked No. 1 in the South in the U.S. News & World Report rankings in the regional liberal arts category before moving to the national liberal arts category in 1994, where the university has enjoyed solid rankings each year.

Shearer impacted higher education beyond Transylvania through his work with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities, and the Council on Independent Colleges, among other groups.

Shearer earned a bachelor of science degree in accounting and a master’s in diplomacy and international commerce, both from the University of Kentucky. He then earned a master’s and Ph.D., both in economics, from Michigan State University.

Transylvania president Emeritus Charles L. Sheare

Transylvania President Emeritus Charles L. Shearer, right, listens as University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto reads his honorary degree citation.

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