LEXINGTON, Ky.—The inaugural class of the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame includes three men with close ties to Transylvania University. Created to celebrate Kentucky’s most successful entrepreneurs, the hall of fame recognizes financial achievement, innovation in products or services, job creation, contributions to specific industries and community involvement.
Although Pearse Lyons, Warren W. Rosenthal and the late William T. Young earned their entrepreneurial stripes through markedly different careers, they are all either current or former members of the Transylvania Board of Trustees and have supported the university in a variety of other ways.
“The remarkable professional success these men have attained gave them the means to also support higher education through their generous commitment of time and resources to this university,” said Transylvania President R. Owen Williams. “We salute them for this latest honor and renew our appreciation for what they have done for Transylvania.”
Transylvania Trustee Pearse Lyons is the founder and president of Alltech, a leading animal health company that employs over 1,900 people in 91 countries. Begun in 1980, Alltech now has group sales approaching $400 million. The company was the primary corporate sponsor of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
Lyons is responsible for creating the Alltech Lecture Series at Transylvania, which has brought key figures in science and industry to campus to discuss such diverse topics as renewable energy, biotechnology in relation to the aging process, Alzheimer’s disease and the effects of nutrition on gene activity.
Warren W. Rosenthal is the retired CEO of Jerrico, Inc., which grew under his leadership from two hamburger stands and a sandwich shop to an international corporation that included 1,350 Long John Silver’s restaurants in 37 states and five foreign countries, as well as 78 full service Jerry’s Restaurants.
Rosenthal, a member of the executive committee and former vice chairman of the Transylvania board, is one of the university’s most loyal and generous supporters. He was instrumental in establishing the hospitality management program at Transylvania. In addition to his own generous contribution, he played a leading role in fund-raising for the Beck Athletic and Recreation Center. The Warren W. Rosenthal Residence Complex was named in his honor. The university awarded him the Transylvania Medal in 1977 for his outstanding service and conferred an honorary degree upon him in 1979.
William T. Young founded W.T. Young Foods, Inc., creator of Big Top Peanut Butter, which became Jif when Young sold the company to Procter & Gamble. He founded W.T. Young Storage, Inc., and established Overbrook Farm, which produced Kentucky Derby and Breeders Cup winning thoroughbreds.
Young served as chairman of the Transylvania board for 23 years, from 1977-2000, and was a board member for an additional 14 years. Under his chairmanship, the university was transformed in every significant way, from dramatic enrollment growth to a rise in the endowment and the addition of eight new buildings and playing fields to the campus. The William T. Young Scholarship program, the university’s most prestigious merit-based award, is named in his honor.