Every year, around this time, my alma mater, Transylvania University suddenly becomes a whole lot more popular.
Is it because TU is the oldest university in Kentucky and, indeed, the first college west of the Allegheny Mountains? Well, that's true, but it's usually not the first thing you hear...
Is it because the school has an extremely impressive medical and law school acceptance rate dating all the way back to the days when Transy established the second law school in the nation? Try again..
Is it because Transy's Greek system is known for promoting excellence among its member chapters, with the Delta Sig chapter becoming a bit of an internet meme earlier this year? Not this time.
Maybe it's because the school's name sounds awfully spooky this time of year. In honor of the spookiest college in Kentucky, and their amazing annual Pumpkin Mania display, here's a little bit of Transylvania trivia, Halloween-style!
Transylvania isn't named for vampires. The school was named for the short-lived Transylvania Colony. Keep in mind, Transylvania was established before Kentucky became a state. Both the Transylvania Colony and the Transylvania region of Romania are named for their geographic locations -- the word Transylvania means "Land beyond the forest."
Transylvania is, they say, cursed. 19th Century Botanist Constantine Rafinesque was a professor at Transylvania for a brief time. When he was terminated -- some say for lazy work habits while others say he was having an affair with the wife of University President Horace Holley -- he placed a curse on the school. The curse is often cited in the two occasions in which Old Morrison, the college's administration building, burned. No word on whether the 1833 cholera epidemic which delayed construction on the building is also linked to Professor Rafinesque.
A professor is buried on campus. Rafinesque again. He died in Philadelphia in 1840 and was buried in an unmarked grave. In 1924, his grave was located and remains thought to be his were reinterred at Transylvania, in a tomb in Old Morrison. Every Halloween, a raffle is held for a group of Freshman students to spend the night in Raf's Tomb.
Transylvania is a lot like Hogwarts. The Harry Potter-reading youngster in your life will surely be delighted to know that Transy offers a quidditch team.
Transylvania celebrates its spooky heritage with a gorgeous jack o'lantern display every Halloween. If you're in Lexington this week, you should definitely stop by!