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Dr. James E. Douthat, the third longest serving president in Lycoming College history, plans to retire June 30, 2013. The announcement was made by Peter R. Lynn, chair of the Lycoming College Board of Trustees. Douthat was named president in 1989 and is in his 23rd year at the helm of the College.
"President Douthat, without question, has been the major driving force for Lycoming College for nearly a quarter-century," said Lynn, who is a 1969 Lycoming graduate. "Under his leadership, Lycoming has undergone a remarkable transformation, moving from a fine regional college to being firmly established as a national liberal arts and sciences institution. President Douthat has worked tirelessly to strengthen the College's academic and financial foundations. In putting both in place, he not only orchestrated many positive changes at Lycoming, but he also created new opportunities for the College in the future. With great admiration, the Board of Trustees expresses its gratitude to him and his wife, Emily, for their hard work and long-term commitment to Lycoming College."
Lynn also announced that the board is in the process of formalizing the presidential search to select Douthat's successor. A search committee composed of trustees, alumni, faculty and students will be established. That committee will review candidates and recommend finalists to the trustees.
Early in his years as president, Douthat and the trustees set two overarching goals for the College. The first was to maintain and strengthen the academic program, and the second was to increase the endowment to ensure additional, on-going revenues to support student scholarships and other institutional needs. Today, Lycoming is consistently ranked as one of the nation's best colleges by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes.com and The Princeton Review. Like many of the finest colleges in the country, Lycoming elected not to grow in enrollment and retain its focus on small classes taught by full-time teaching faculty holding the highest degrees in their academic fields. This year, students come from 31 states and 12 countries. One-third of the current student body now comes from out-of-state. Both U.S. News and the Washington Monthly recognized the College in 2011 for its unusually high graduation rate.
Under Douthat's leadership, the trustees adopted a new financial model, one which took time, effort and discipline to implement. The successful completion of three capital campaigns and the positive impact produced by the new financial model caused the endowment to grow from less than $19 million in 1989 to more than $160 million today. Several years ago, Lycoming was placed by Standard & Poor's on its short list of less than 90 "A" or higher rated educational institutions, a position it has maintained even in the current economic environment.
During Douthat's tenure, tens of millions of dollars have been spent on new facilities, including the Shangraw Athletic Complex, Recreation Center, Mary L. Welch Honors Hall and The Commons, an apartment-style student residential complex. Major additions and renovations have also been undertaken, such as the expansion of the Wertz Student Center. During the past two decades, the College moved into the Information Age as millions were focused on the growth and operational support of information technology and its integration throughout the academic curriculum of the College.
Numerous other educational enhancements were added during Douthat's presidency. Among them, the Office of the Assistant Dean for Freshmen to support the transition to College, the Institute for Management Studies to create a programmatic umbrella enhancing the programs of the business, accounting and economics departments, and the Visiting Scholars Program to bring directors, conductors, writers, ambassadors and others, some outside of academia, into the College's classrooms. The College now has 225 endowed scholarships, making it possible for hundreds of students to attend each year. Douthat also worked closely with various donors to recognize excellent teaching and scholarship through the creation of nine endowed professorships.
Douthat chaired the boards of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, the Middle Atlantic Conference, and the Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce. He also led the Lycoming County United Way Campaign in 1999. Additional voluntary service includes directorships of The Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Universities, The Pennsylvania Educational Telecommunications Exchange Network, WVIA Public Television and Radio, Williamsport Regional Medical Center and its now-parent body Susquehanna Health, the Lycoming Foundation for business development and the National Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities of the United Methodist Church. In addition, he has served as a member of the National Advisory Board of The School of Theology at Claremont (Calif.) and on the NCAA's Presidents' Advisory Group for Division III.
Prior to Lycoming, Douthat was the executive vice president of Albion (Mich.) College, having previously served as the dean for student life at Duke University. A native of Petersburg, Va., he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from The College of William & Mary as well as a Master of Divinity degree and a doctorate in educational management, both from Duke. His family includes his wife, Emily, son, Mark, and daughter and son-in-law, Anna and Emanuel Stockman.
Founded in 1812 and celebrating its bicentennial during the 2011-12 academic year, Lycoming College is a national liberal arts and sciences school dedicated to the undergraduate education of 1,400 students. It offers 35 academic majors and is recognized as a Tier 1educational institution by U.S. News & World Report. Located near the banks of the Susquehanna River in Williamsport, Pa., Lycoming is one of the 50 oldest colleges in the nation.