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Lycoming College President Dr. James E. Douthat, who will retire in June 2013, opened his 24th and final year with his traditional State of the College address on Tuesday, Aug. 21. In addition to Douthat's comments about the College's best fundraising year in recent memory, summer improvements to the campus facilities and data on the Class of 2016, the faculty and staff in attendance received an update on the status of the presidential search from Marshall Welch III, a Lycoming trustee and chair of the search committee.
Douthat paid tribute to the more than 3,500 donors who contributed over $4 million during the 2011-12 fiscal year, resulting in Lycoming's third-best fundraising year ever. Included was a $1.1 million bequest to fund an endowed professorship, create new program opportunities in theatre and sociology and support student scholarships. The College also received major funding from various organizations, including the Donald B. and Dorothy L. Stabler Foundation for an endowed scholarship program; the George I. Alden Trust to purchase new instrumentation for physics and to improve existing facilities in psychology; the AT&T Foundation to support the Academic Resource Center and its peer tutoring program; and several other leadership gifts to endow scholarships and enhance the physical plant.
"Perhaps our most obvious physical change added this year is the new artificial turf on the football field, an expensive project brought by the hard work of the development office and by members of our football coaching staff, both past and present," Douthat said. "The great donor response to their requests raised more than $900,000 during a four-month fundraising drive. The turf field has been installed without a dime of tuition or a penny of endowment funds going into the project."
According to Douthat, the Class of 2016 is a diverse group geographically, ethnically and economically. Students arrived from 19 states and six foreign countries, including 11 from Vietnam. Fifty-seven of the new students have been invited to join the Lycoming Scholars program. Twenty-two are either high school valedictorians or salutatorians, and two individuals bring perfect 800 SAT math scores.
Douthat explained that while Lycoming passed its recent 10-year Middle States Commission on Higher Education review with flying colors, it continues to prepare additional information and assessment in response to the review. This year also formally begins the faculty's two-year review of the College's general education distribution system. Final details must be approved by the faculty and the board of trustees no later than spring 2014.
Welch informed the audience that numerous qualified candidates have applied for Lycoming's presidency, and he expects a fairly large inflow of additional resumes to arrive prior to the deadline of Friday, Sept. 7.
"The applications so far have come from a very high-quality group of candidates, including men and women of very diverse ethnic backgrounds and very professional paths," Welch said. He added that the candidates include seated presidents, chief academic officers and other college administrators from development, admissions and other areas, as well as a few non-traditional candidates.
The search committee, which is receiving guidance from consultant Dr. Tom Courtice of The Association of Governing Boards, will first meet to narrow the pool of candidates and will then begin to interview a select group. The committee will make its final recommendations to the College's board of trustees, which will select the institution's 15th president.
Lycoming College is a four-year, residential liberal arts and sciences school dedicated to the undergraduate education of 1,400 students. Located near the banks of the Susquehanna River in Williamsport, Pa., the College fosters academic rigor, a supportive faculty and successful outcomes. It offers 36 academic majors and is recognized as a Tier 1 educational institution by U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1812, Lycoming is one of the 50 oldest colleges in the nation.