Lycoming College Summer Magazine 2013 - page 9

During a school mock debate, Trachte
played the role of Kennedy.
“I remember being very fascinated
with the Kennedys as leaders and
political figures,” Trachte said. “I went to
Dartmouth with an inclination to study
politics, but this interest was confirmed
when I took a comparative politics course
with professor Henry Ehrmann, who, at
that time, was recognized as one of the
two or three leading experts in French
politics in the U.S. The way that he
introduced different political systems,
philosophies of governance and democra-
cy theory absolutely captivated me.”
When Trachte graduated from
Dartmouth in 1973, it was a contentious
time in American politics. Among his
memories is the incident at Kent State,
where, on May 4, 1970, members of
the Ohio National Guard opened fire on
unarmed students who were protesting
against the Vietnam War and America’s
invasion of Cambodia.
“That spring, many college campuses
across the country suspended the regular
conduct of classes,” said Trachte, who
was a member of Dartmouth’s student
government. “Many college presidents
endorsed statements calling for the end
of the war in Vietnam. Because I was
interested in politics, I attended events
and became engaged in the national
debate. The national politics of the period
were very much a part of my Dartmouth
Trachte followed his undergraduate
degree with a master’s in international
relations from the University of Kentucky
in 1975 and a Ph.D. in political science
from Binghamton University in 1981. He
then embarked on a nine-year teaching
career that led him to Clark and Long
Island universities and Gettysburg
A helping hand
Trachte is quick to recognize that there
have been many individuals, including
his father and Ehrmann, who have played
a role in shaping his academic career
path. He also points to professor Maurice
(Mickey) East, who taught international
relations at Kentucky, and professor
Edward Weisband, who directed his
doctoral dissertation. During the second
year of Trachte’s master’s program, he
was invited by East to collaborate in
designing a new course in international
organizations. The experience went so
well that East invited Trachte to co-teach
the course with him.
“That was the first time that I had been
in a college classroom as the instructor,”
Trachte said. “I found it stimulating
and exciting. It was that experience
that informed my decision to go into
higher education and pursue my Ph.D.
in political science and become a faculty
member. Clearly, Mickey giving me
that opportunity was really a formative
moment for me.”
At Binghamton, Weisband became
Trachte’s mentor. They collaborated on
a paper on the Truman Doctrine that
extended work that Weisband had begun
in his book,
Word Politics
“Edward guided me into the world
of scholarly research, taught me how
to think holistically about international
politics and inspired me to excel as a
teacher. He was an extraordinary lecturer
and a brilliant scholar.”
He also acknowledges two
administrators from Franklin & Marshall
College, where he worked the last 25
years, including the last 10 as dean of the
college. Alice Drum, who is now vice
president of the college emerita, “took
a leap of faith,” he said, and hired him
for his first administrative post – dean of
freshmen. The other is former president
John Fry, who led F&M from 2002-10.
“John is the person who helped me
to understand how to lead an institution,
particularly lead an institution toward the
kind of change that makes a difference in
the quality of the educational experience
students receive and the kinds of students
and faculty you can attract. John showed
me how to lead an institution toward
‘transformational change.’”
As F&M’s dean of freshmen from
1988-91, Trachte says he had the
privilege of working with faculty to
develop a first-year seminar program.
It involved reimagining how students
entered into the intellectual life of the
college and the study of the liberal arts.
“It grew into and has remained the
starting point for how students enter into
the life of the mind at F&M,” he said.
“The college is positioned
for us to move in a very
strategic and aggressive way
to advance the quality of
what is offered and achieve
recognition as one of the
finest liberal arts colleges in
this country. ”
Full name:
Kent Charles Trachte
De Pere, Wis.
• Ph.D., political science,
Binghamton University, 1981
• M.A., international relations,
University of Kentucky, 1975
• B.A., government,
Dartmouth College, 1973
Previous positions:
Franklin & Marshall College
• Dean of the college, 2003-13
• Associate provost and dean for
educational services, 2000-03
• Associate vice president and dean of
freshmen, 1991-2000
• Dean of freshmen, 1988-91
Gettysburg College
• Visiting associate professor,
political science, 1987-88
Long Island University
• Associate professor, political
science, 1986-87
Clark University
• Director of international relations
program, 1980-86
• Assistant professor, government,
He and his wife, Sharon, who earned
a Ph.D. in French literature from
Binghamton University, have been
married for 37 years. She recently
retired as an associate professor of
French literature at Elizabethtown
College, where she taught for 26
years. Their family includes son,
Kenyon, and his wife, Lucille.
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