Ph.D., Philosophy, Fordham University, 1996
M.A., Philosophy, Fordham University, 1993
B.A., Economics, Vassar College, 1987
Seamus Carey, Ph.D., became Transylvania University’s 26th president on July 1, 2014. Before coming to Transylvania, he was the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.
Carey has held numerous leadership positions during his academic career, including the chairmanship of the Philosophy Department at Manhattan College. At Manhattan, he also served on the faculty senate, as chair of the School of Arts curriculum committee, and as director of the university’s Center for Professional Ethics.
Carey brings to the historic Lexington, Ky., liberal arts campus a keen sense of academic mission. “I believe that the liberal arts are more relevant than ever," said Carey. "The complexity of issues that our young people will face from the economy to the environment to the evolving nature of personal relationships requires thoughtfulness and insight that comes from a well-rounded and thorough liberal arts education.
“The ability to think clearly and deeply and to understand that situations, relationships, and individual people, including one’s self, can be understood on many different levels is essential for making good decisions. Information and data alone are not enough. The ability to interpret data to get at what is meaningful and important is crucial. It seems to me that a sound liberal arts education gives young people the opportunity to decipher meaning and distill insight in ways that not only contribute to more successful careers but also to living better lives.”
Carey occasionally writes about issues relating to the liberal arts for The Huffington Post.
His initial introduction to Transylvania came by visiting the university website. “I began to read the way Transylvania thinks about itself and the way it presents itself to the world. I found its description and its understanding of the liberal arts to be in line with the way I think about the liberal arts.”
Transylvania’s urban setting as a fixture of downtown Lexington was an additional attraction for this father of three whose career to date has been spent in and around the New York metropolitan region. “The idea of having a small liberal arts school, with high academic standards, located in a city was even more appealing to me. Many of the elite liberal arts schools have, in fact, isolated campuses where students can become insulated. Given that Transylvania is a liberal arts school with high academic standards in a thriving city made the position very appealing to me.”
Engagement with the Lexington community in search of ways to enhance students’ academic experiences through internships and mentoring is high on the new president’s goals during his first 100 days on campus. “The business community, the political community, the non-profit community all present opportunities for our students to supplement their education at Transylvania and get a foothold toward a successful career.”
Carey is aware that the Transylvania campus community has many goals and aspirations for the institution.
“What I’m really interested in doing is listening carefully and deeply to everyone at Transylvania before I come to any conclusions about where we are and where we need to get to. The energy to move Transylvania forward will come from the people of the Transylvania community.”
Carey acknowledged that transitioning from the role of a chief academic officer to the greatly expanded responsibilities of a university president will be a challenge. “But, I’m actually looking forward to that challenge,” he admitted. “The academic enterprise is the most essential piece of what we do and that has to be a focus of everything we do. When academic performance is thriving, the other things are easier to take care of because we can be really proud of what it is we do.”
The branding and marketing of the university are, in Carey’s view, key to sustaining its attractiveness to students who are eager to pursue education. “It would be great if institutions like Transylvania could only focus on educating students and leave it at that, but the reality of today’s world is that we have to tell our story. If we approach branding and marketing as an opportunity to tell our story, we will not only help external constituents learn about Transylvania, we will learn more about Transylvania ourselves. This will help us to evolve in a more intentional way.”
Carey and his wife, Noreen, and two of their children are making the transition to Lexington. Their eldest daughter enters college in the fall of 2014. “So we’re in the middle of a major adjustment for our kids,” noted the author of Growing Up with Your Children: 7 Turning Points in the Lives of Parents. “They’ve been great so far—what parent wouldn’t say that their kids are great, but they really have been great.”
It helps, he pointed out, that his son loves basketball. “So he’s going to be in the right place for that.”
Carey’s writing credits also include The Faithful Parent: Discovering the Spirit of Purposeful Parenting and The Whole Child: Restoring Wonder to the Art of Parenting.
(extracted from an article by Kaitlyn Haggard '16, editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Rambler, printed March 20, 2014)
In response to a question asking for the most important thing [Carey] wants Transylvania to know about him, both as a president and a person, Carey responded, “One of the things that motivates me the most in working in higher education is...deep faith in the ability [of] students to do amazing things.”
Carey cited student-faculty relationships as one of the most integral parts of a successful university.
“One of the most important things I can do is...to create the conditions in which students can flourish,” he said, “and that involves...creating the conditions in which faculty can flourish as well, because the interaction between students and faculty is the reason these institutions exist.”
Carey also discussed his sense of responsibility to the campus community as a prominent motivating factor in his life.
“I feel [a responsibility] toward students and their families, because I recognize what a deep commitment and sacrifice it takes for students to be able to attend schools like Transylvania, and I feel a really deep obligation to do my best all the time because of that,” he said.
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