Celebrating our bicentennial

Lycoming College is celebrating its bicentennial during the 2011-12 academic year under the forward-focused theme “Into Our Third Century.” During the year, the College will be recognizing its 200-year anniversary through new and expanded events, stories and images that explore and celebrate its tradition-rich history.

The College was founded in 1812 as the Williamsport Academy, a coeducational school serving a small but thriving lumber community. At first, the Academy served only elementary school-aged students. With the advent of public schools in the area, it expanded its offerings to include high school and college preparatory work.

Today, the College is dedicated to the undergraduate education of 1,400 students. Located near the banks of the Susquehanna River in Williamsport, Pa., Lycoming is one of the 50 oldest colleges in the nation and boasts more than 16,000 alumni. Under the steady leadership of Dr. James Douthat, who is in his 22nd year as president, Lycoming celebrates its position as a Tier 1 institution by U.S. News and World Report. Through its evolution, the College has remained a bastion of excellence in teaching and learning for lives of service, leadership and achievement.

In 1848, under the patronage of The Methodist Episcopal Church, the Academy became Williamsport Dickinson Seminary – a preparatory school for Dickinson College. The Seminary continued as a private boarding school until 1929, when its offerings were expanded to include two years of college work and its name was changed to Williamsport Dickinson Seminary and Junior College, Pennsylvania’s first accredited private two-year school. During its years as a junior college under President John W. Long, the institution forged a strong academic reputation, strengthened its faculty and expanded its physical plant.

Increasing national demands for higher education following World War II prompted another significant step in the growth of the school. In 1947, the institution became Lycoming College – a four-year institution of the liberal arts and sciences.

“College renamed,” headlined the first issue of the Lycoming Courier student newspaper, published in November 1947. The institution that, for the last century, had been known as Williamsport Dickinson, first as a seminary and then as a junior college, had a new name to reflect its new status.

But, Lycoming wasn’t the only name under consideration for the changing school. Shortly after the final decision for a senior college was made, the school announced the leading candidates for a new name: Northern Methodist College, Pennsylvania Wesleyan College, Lycoming College, Crever College and Rich College.

One week before Homecoming, on Oct. 23, 1947, the decision was made to call the school Lycoming – a name closely identified with the Williamsport area. Specifically, it was the name of a stream which flowed south through the western part of the City of Williamsport and into the Susquehanna River. The Delaware Indians had called the stream Legani-hanne, meaning sandy stream, a name later written Lycaumick. European settlers called it Lycoming. The name had another historic root, a Methodist one. The Lycoming Circuit was the name of the first Methodist presence in the area, and therefore Lycoming was a most appropriate name for the Methodist college.

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