An Interview with the President
Construction is underway on a new athletics complex on West Fourth Street that will offer state-of-the-art facilities to seven Transylvania intercollegiate teams as well as recreation opportunities for the entire campus community. Its location represents a bold move by the university to expand its presence in Lexington beyond its traditional Broadway campus. President R. Owen Williams discusses why the complex is the first and most visible component of Transylvania 2020, the university’s new strategic plan.
Q: Why is an athletics complex, and not an academic or residential building, the first project under the strategic plan?
A: Our strategic plan includes many exciting new academic and residential facilities, which are dependent upon land currently occupied by athletics. By building this athletics complex, we will free that land for new development.
Q: How significant is the need for this new complex?
A: Very. Forty-two percent of this year’s incoming class participate in inter-collegiate athletics. Yet some of our teams are practicing and competing on sub-par facilities. We have a lacrosse team, but not a lacrosse field. We have a track team, but not a track. It’s time we address those needs of our students. This facility will do all of that, and much more.
Q: How important are our athletics programs to the overall experience of a Transylvania education?
A: Our student-athletes learn about competition, grace under pressure, teamwork, and any number of other important characteristics of successful leaders. For many, the lessons they learn on the playing field stay with them throughout their lives and careers.
Q: How will the complex compare with current athletics facilities?
A: It’s going to be unlike anything we’ve ever had at Transylvania. The turf field, lighting for practice and night play on a regular basis, outdoor seating that will accommodate almost the entire student body—all of this is unprecedented for us.
Q: Is this a place to play games and then leave, or is there more to it?
A: Much more. A new field house will accommodate all the coaches for women’s and men’s soccer, lacrosse, and track and field, as well as field hockey. It will also house locker rooms and a training facility. The Transylvania community will be on this site all day, every day. It will be a new home for nearly a third of our varsity programs.
Q: How far from the Broadway campus is this complex?
A: Very close. It is only two-tenths of a mile from Broadway. Indeed, if you are in back circle at Clay/Davis Halls, you are closer to this new field than you are to Hazelrigg Hall. We are acquiring properties on the short stretch of Fourth Street that takes you to this field. Eventually, our campus will be all along Fourth Street from Upper Street to the complex.
Q: What is the significance of the location of this facility?
A: It represents a historic move by the university to integrate even more into the Lexington community that surrounds us and so uniquely defines our character. Even though it is very close by, it is an important expansion of Transylvania’s footprint.
Q: Why is being in downtown Lexington a positive for Transylvania?
A: There is very little that gives Transylvania a competitive advantage more than our location. Most liberal arts colleges are in rural destinations that render them quite remote. Transylvania, by contrast, is in the middle of one of America’s sweetest cities. As a result, we’re able to offer our students cultural and social opportunities unlike what are available at many other liberal arts colleges.
Q: What are the academic and professional opportunities Lexington provides our students?
A: We have internship opportunities just minutes from campus that students can pursue during the regular school year, as opposed to having to wait until summer as they do at so many other colleges. Many of these experiences come through our alumni network. In every walk of life, in every occupation, we have alums in this greater metropolitan area who have done very well. They happily take on interns from our student body.