“Few college presidents are able to comprehend higher education finance as keenly as Dr. Douthat.”
institutions. The conclusions of his
research have been presented at several
industry conferences. His studies ranked
Lycoming among the top 15 percent of
private institutions on those measures.
“That is a remarkable position for
Lycoming to be in, considering that
in the early 1990s there was concern
in the Pennsylvania higher education
community for Lycoming’s long-term
prospects,” Kneedler said. “Looking
at the data that I developed, as well as
additional data supplied by the College,
it is clear that efforts by the president,
the board and the College as a whole
have moved Lycoming from a very
fragile condition to one of commendable
strength and stability. I know of few, if
any, cases nationally of colleges that have
made such dramatic progress. Lycoming
was very fortunate to attract President
Douthat to lead it in a remarkably timely
effort to position it for long-term success.
“President Douthat is a very smart
person who is unusually well-informed
about developments in higher education
and perceptive as to their implications
for a college such as Lycoming. He
possesses a rare ability to drive for
constant improvement while remaining
alert to dangers of excess. I only wish
that more of our national business and
financial leaders had his combination of
interest payments and rising associated
credit costs. That did not happen at
Lycoming. The College’s asset-to-debt
ratios remained very positive.
Lycoming’s hard-earned financial
efforts have not gone unnoticed. Dr.
Richard Kneedler, president emeritus
of Franklin & Marshall College, now
serves as a higher education management
consultant. He developed a national
database comprised of 675 private
colleges and universities, by using
publicly available financial data. He
then created comparative models to
define the financial stability of these
During his 24 years at the College, tens
of millions of dollars were also spent
to build new facilities, including the
Shangraw Athletic Complex, Recreation
Center, Mary Lindsay Welch Honors Hall
and The Commons student residences.
Major additions and renovations in
other areas, such as the expansion
of the Wertz Student Center and the
addition of FieldTurf at the football and
soccer/lacrosse fields also occurred.
The IT revolution arrived on his watch.
Informational technology and the support
it requires is an on-going expense equal
to constructing a new building every
five years or so. While the cost has been
extensive, Douthat notes, failure to enter
the Computer Age would have rendered
any college irrelevant almost overnight.
Prior to the economic meltdown
beginning in 2007, most of America’s
colleges and universities were
experiencing increased tuition revenues,
higher alumni giving, and growing state
and federal support. When endowment
values collapsed beginning in 2007, some
colleges found themselves in violation of
their bond covenants, others had to buy
back their debt, and many faced higher
During President Douthat’s 24-year tenure,
many campus improvements have come to fruition,
including (clockwise from top left) FieldTurf at
David Person Field, The Commons apartment-
style residential complex, Mary Lindsay Welch
Honors Hall and Recreation Center.
President Douthat (second from left) is joined
by trustees, administrators, student-athletes and
other members of the campus community during
a groundbreaking ceremony for the Recreation
Center on Nov. 15, 2002.
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