Magazine On-line [spring 2013]
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The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship

Transylvania becomes home to Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship

Transylvania has signed an agreement with the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship and the University of Kentucky that makes Transylvania the primary location for the center and its prestigious summer Student Congress.

Historically, the center has brought top college students from across the nation to Lexington for its one-week academic immersion into Clay’s principles of debate, diplomacy, communication, and beneficial compromise. Beginning in 2014, the program will instead bring outstanding high school students from all around Kentucky to participate in the event.

“We are thrilled to be working in association with the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship and the University of Kentucky on this important project,” Transylvania President R. Owen Williams said. “Few Americans from the nineteenth century are more closely associated with the art of political compromise than Henry Clay. We are delighted to be part of a program that advances greater civility in public discourse, especially given the many challenges of the current political arena.”

Robert Clay, co-chair of the center, said the new arrangement holds great promise for the program’s future.

“Much of the Henry Clay Center’s success during the last five years can be attributed to its partnership with UK and Transylvania,” he said. “Both universities’ re-commitment to our mission and Transylvania’s willingness to become a managing partner will not only enhance our programs, but will provide the stability for our long-term future.” 

While endorsing the new agreement, UK President Eli Capilouto recognized Transylvania’s historical links with Henry Clay.

“We’ve had a tremendous partnership with Transylvania for the last several years on this wonderful educational initiative, and we look forward to continuing our support long into the future,” he said. “Given Henry Clay’s close and storied association with Transylvania University, it is entirely appropriate to have the program that bears his name permanently housed there.”

The center’s core mission is to promote the ideals of statesmanship that Clay exhibited in his public life from 1806 until his death in 1852. Clay was secretary of state under President John Quincy Adams, a senator and representative (speaker of the House for six congresses) from Kentucky, and a three-time presidential candidate. His skill at diplomacy earned him the title of the Great Compromiser.

Clay maintained close connections with Transylvania throughout his adult life. He taught in the university’s pioneering law department beginning in 1805, served on the Board of Trustees on several occasions, and oversaw construction of Old Morrison in 1833. Regardless of his national career and world travels that took him far from his hometown of Lexington, he remained a loyal friend and counselor to the university until his death.

The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship is a part of the Henry Clay Memorial Foundation, which is located in Lexington at Ashland, the historic Henry Clay estate.

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