1780 – The Official Blog of Transylvania University

1780 | The Official Blog of Transylvania University

April 23, 1954: Eisenhower helps Transylvania celebrate new library, terquasquicentennial

Eisenhower giving a speech

Seventy years ago today, Transylvania University welcomed quite the VIP for its library dedication and kickoff of a yearlong celebration of the school’s 175th anniversary.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower addressed a crowd in front of Old Morrison as part of a three day terquasquicentennial convocation themed “Priorities in a Confused World.” He also attended a tea in the new library with its namesake, Frances Carrick Thomas.

Frances Carrick Thomas and Ike going in for tea

“It is my unique privilege and honor to bring to this gathering a salute from the national government on the 175th anniversary of the founding of this institution,” Eisenhower said in his speech. He went on to discuss the value of American ideals and mentioned Henry Clay, a noted statesman and Transylvania faculty member. Eisenhower also reflected on what a previous speaker at the event — Charles Allen Thomas, a 1920 alumnus and president of Monsanto — had said about how science can be used for good or harm (e.g., the atom bomb).

Listen to Ike’s speech, or read the transcript. Recent Transylvania President John N. Williams ’74 was actually there, but he doesn’t remember because he was only two.

Also during Eisenhower’s trip to Lexington, he was presented with a drawing of the famous thoroughbred Man o’ War by Transylvania alumnus Joe Petro ’53, who studied under artist-in-residence Victor Hammer. (Petro went on to design the U.S. Postal Service’s “My Old Kentucky Home” stamp celebrating the state’s bicentennial.)

Photo: Lexington Herald-Leader (Kentucky Photo Archive)

Eisenhower wasn’t the only national leader to attend a Transylvania library event. Forty years ago, then Vice President George H.W. Bush participated in the groundbreaking for the J. Douglas Gay Jr. addition.