President Kent Trachte
In my inaugural address, I invited the Lycoming community to dare to dream and suggested that Lycoming College should aspire to be recognized as one of the very best liberal arts colleges. I am pleased to say that we have momentum and are turning aspiration into reality.
We had an excellent year in admissions. The 425 students who comprise the entering class represent the second largest class during the past decade. They are also the most diverse class in the College’s history as 22% are domestic students of color. Given the national decline in men enrolling in college, we are also pleased that there are significantly more men than in previous years—about 51% of the class is male. The new students also represent 20 states and 8 foreign countries (China, Vietnam, Burundi, France, India, Netherlands, Philippines and Rwanda). We achieved this growth without any decline in academic quality and in fact, the average SAT score has risen five points.
This strong enrollment outcome is not an accident but it comes at a cost. To achieve our enrollment goals, the College has over the past five years increased the amount of financial aid we offer by thirty percent. We continue to deliver on our proud tradition of providing a first-rate liberal arts education to students regardless of a family’s financial circumstances. Our steadfast commitment to this part of our mission makes it imperative that we work together to grow our endowed scholarship funds as well as current use scholarships. This effort depends upon the generosity of our alumni and foundations such as the Stabler Foundation, which during the past three years has made gifts of $1.7 million to endow scholarships.
Enhancing the College’s physical infrastructure has been a point of emphasis during my first seventeen months in office. Construction on the Lynn Science Center began in June 2014. When it opens in the fall 2015, Lycoming students will benefit from a world-class science building and planetarium. A magnificent naming gift from Board Chair Peter Lynn and his wife Joyce has made this project possible, and they were joined by Trustees Jay Cleveland Sr. and Jay Cleveland Jr. and their spouses Sandy and Mary who also made a very generous gift to support the project. Other donors have made gifts to name classrooms, laboratories, faculy offices and study spaces within the building, and we anticipate additional support during the coming months. Through the generosity of our alumni and friends, Lycoming students will study cutting edge science in a state of the art facility.
Other improvements to the campus include the renovations of both Rich Hall and Crever Hall. The inside of these beautiful Georgian buildings now provide a modern home to our students. During the summer of 2015, residence hall renovations will continue with the transformation of Wesley Hall into a contemporary, living- learning residential facility. In addition, Café 1812 in the Pennington Lounge has been significantly expanded so that it now functions as an inviting space where faculty and students can enjoy lunch or lighter fare. As part of the same project, the adjoining Penny’s Plaza has been refurbished to create an appealing entrance to the Academic Center and an inviting outdoor gathering space. The Pennington Projects were supported by gifts from the graduating Class of 2014, Board Chair Peter Lynn ’69 and Parkhurst Dining Services.
Community relations have also been a focus during the past year. Probably the most important project is the Old City area south of campus. Early in the summer the city and the College were notified that we had received a $25,000 planning grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. An advisory committee, upon which I serve, is now working with a consultant to develop a vision and specific projects that will revitalize this edge of our campus. During Homecoming Weekend, the College also opened a new art gallery in downtown Williamsport; this step has generated a real positive buzz in the community.
We are also encouraging innovation in the academic program. The Strategic Plan commits us to a dramatic increase in the number of enhanced or high impact academic opportunities that we offer students. We want every student to graduate having completed at least one study abroad program, internship, research collaboration with a faculty member, or course that involves learning and doing in the community. Toward that end, we are laying the foundation for a Center for Enhanced Academic Experiences. A recent grant from the highly prestigious Mellon Foundation represents an important step toward this goal. The $100,000 Mellon gift will allow us to develop more faculty student research collaborations in the humanities and humanities-related social sciences.
Kent Trachte, Ph.D.
President of Lycoming College