A message from President John N. Williams

Dear Transylvania Community, 

Last week, I expressed my sadness, frustration and anger at the deaths of Breonna Taylor here in Kentucky and George Floyd in Minneapolis. I was speaking out to address the most recent injustices against Black people at the hands of the police. You have responded to me in both support and criticism of my statement.

In speaking directly with those who reached out, I learned much this past week, and I thank you for that. I apologize to those who were offended by parts of my statement. I care about people, our community and Transylvania. I believe that Black Lives Matter.

Our Transylvania story is deeply connected to the history of our city, state and country, and as such, is connected to the history of racism and intolerance that are underlying parts of the American story. I acknowledge the voices of those who have been caused pain by the past actions of our university community, and I personally regret these actions. I know that we must do better going forward.

The pain and fear are real. I see it and hear it in the chorus of voices raised in protest at marches across the country and here in Lexington. I believe we must work for a better world going forward and care for each other. It is time to listen, learn and then act to bring about racial understanding and justice.

I am working with incoming President Brien Lewis and with our cabinet and incoming cabinet members, including our new vice president for diversity and inclusion, Deidra Dennie, to identify concrete actions Transylvania can take to better address systemic racism in our institution and our community. We need to start by strengthening our commitment to our Black students, faculty, staff, alumni and neighbors to work to affirm anti-racism. We plan to announce the first of these actions in the coming weeks. 

Transylvania’s mission is to prepare its students for “a humane and fulfilling personal and public life by cultivating independent thinking, open-mindedness, creative expression and commitment to lifelong learning and social responsibility in a diverse world.” 

We best utilize that independent thought and open-mindedness by considering our social responsibility in the diverse world in which we live. We do so by listening to Black voices and experiences across campus and throughout our community. Together, we must build on our collective values and apply them to the greater good of seeing a more just and civil society. Black Lives Matter.

Dr. John N. Williams ’74
President