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1780 – The Official Blog of Transylvania University

Transylvania University presidential inauguration events scheduled for April 27-29; installation ceremony, which is free and open to the public, set for Friday, April 29, at 10 a.m.

R. Owen WilliamsLEXINGTON, Ky.—The inauguration of R. Owen Williams as the 25th president of Transylvania University will be celebrated April 27-29, with the installation ceremony taking place Friday, April 29, at 10 a.m. on the lawn of historic Old Morrison. College and university presidents and representatives from across the country, as well as trustees, alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff, elected officials and members of the Lexington community will be in attendance to honor Williams and the 231-year-old college.  

“This is one of the highest honors of my life,” said Williams. “Transylvania is an extraordinary liberal arts college, and, as a historian, I am in awe of its rich history.”

Williams, who became president on August 1, 2011, earned an A.B. in philosophy from Dartmouth College, an M.A. in intellectual history from Cambridge University, a master’s of law from Yale Law School and a Ph.D. in history, specializing in nineteenth-century American history, from Yale University.

Williams’s inaugural speech, which is free and open to the public, will be his first major address to the Lexington community.

“A presidential inauguration is a fitting way in which to celebrate the heritage of the college,” said William F. Pollard, vice president and dean of the college and inauguration chair. “It honors past presidents and leaders who have helped shaped the university since its founding and marks the start of a new chapter in Transylvania’s distinguished history.”

The inaugural symposium will be presented Thursday, April 28, at 3 p.m. in Haggin Auditorium and focuses on Williams’s scholarly work. “The Civil War and Reconstruction in the Border States: History and Memory at the Sesquicentennial” features four nationally recognized speakers and former colleagues of Williams—David Blight, professor of American history at Yale University; Annette Gordon-Reed, professor of law and history at Harvard University; John McCardell, vice chancellor and president of The University of the South; and Jed Shugerman (moderator), assistant professor of law at Harvard.

The installation ceremony, the symposium and several other events and exhibitions (listed below) are free and open to the public.

“We invite the Lexington community to join us for this very special occasion and to enjoy the academic pageantry and regalia, the music and the celebration of Transylvania’s future,” said William T. Young, Jr., chairman of the Board of Trustees.

For a complete schedule of events, and other inauguration information, please visit or call Sarah Emmons, associate vice president for communications and public relations, in the office at (859) 233-8120 or on her cell phone at (859) 333-4246.

Wednesday, April 27
7 p.m.
Juried Student Exhibition, Morlan Gallery
Jurors’ awards at 7:45, including the Dean’s Purchase Award

8 p.m.
Student Fine Arts Showcase, Carrick Theater

Thursday, April 28
3-5 p.m.
Symposium: “The Civil War and Reconstruction in the Border States: History and Memory at the Sesquicentennial,” Haggin Auditorium
Moderated by Jed Shugerman, assistant professor of law, Harvard University
Presentations by David Blight, professor of American History, Yale University; Annette Gordon-Reed, professor of law and history, Harvard University; and John McCardell, vice-chancellor and president, The University of the South.

8 p.m.
Piano Concert by Gregory Partain, professor of music, Carrick Theater

9:15 p.m.
Dessert Reception, Morlan Gallery

Friday, April 29
10 a.m.
Installation Ceremony, Old Morrison lawn (Rain location, Haggin Auditorium)

11:30 a.m.
Celebration Brunch, Haupt Plaza (Rain location, William T. Young Campus Center)

2 p.m.
Student Academic Showcase, Library Media Viewing Room

2:15 p.m.
Sustainability Panel Discussion, William T. Young Campus Center

2:30 p.m.
Pharaoh’s Army Screening and Talk by Director Robby Henson, Cowgill 102