Transylvania University names alum as interim president following Carey’s departure

John Norton Williams will serve as interim president of Transylvania University starting Aug. 15.
John Norton Williams will serve as interim president of Transylvania University starting Aug. 15. Transylvania University

Transylvania University will name an alumnus who is dean of the Indiana University School of Dentistry as its interim president, following the surprise resignation of President Seamus Carey last week.

John Norton Williams, who is a member of the Transylvania Board of Trustees, will start Aug. 15 after finishing a nine-year term in his role at Indiana University.

Carey is returning to his native New York to take the helm of Iona College in New Rochelle after five years on the job in Lexington.

“I am extremely delighted that Dr. Williams has agreed to serve our Transylvania community as interim president,” said Board of Trustees Chairman William T. Young Jr. “This will give us a chance to conduct a comprehensive national presidential search while ensuring the university has strong leadership for the coming year.”

Williams joined the board of trustees in 2007 and chairs its Academic Affairs Committee. In 2009, he and his wife, Lucy, a Transylvania alumna, each received the Morrison Medallion for their commitment to advancing liberal arts education and leadership in supporting Transylvania.

“Transylvania is a vibrant academic community with outstanding students, faculty and staff,” said Williams. “It is an honor for me to serve the university as interim president and share its great tradition of liberal arts education with future generations, just has it has done so well for almost 240 years.”

Williams has held provost and dean positions at Indiana University, the University of North Carolina and the University of Louisville. He holds a Doctor of Dental Medicine and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Louisville, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Transylvania.

Officials said Transy will conduct a national search for a permanent president, beginning with the appointment of a search committee this summer. The search will be open to both internal and external candidates.

Transy, a small liberal arts college in downtown Lexington that was founded in 1780, is facing many of the challenges of small schools, including a student enrollment that has fallen below 1,000. It’s embarked on an ambitious building plan, including a $30 million student center.

Transy is also missing its number two position: a vice president of academic affairs or university dean. Spokeswoman Megan Moloney said two finalists have visited the campus, and Carey will name someone to that role soon. Former Lexington Catholic High School President Steve Angelucci was recently named as the permanent vice president for advancement after serving in that interim role.