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A mile and a half away, the Pennsylvania College of Technology

had recently constructed a new grand entrance of their own near

the Maynard Street exit of Interstate 180, and Shangraw saw the

immediate appeal.

For years, the arrival sequence to Lycoming’s campus has

remained a convoluted, inelegant and unwelcoming process ending

at the Drum Admissions House on the north end of the campus.

Even today, prospective students, parents and other visitors negotiate

a labyrinthine circuit of roundabouts and one-way streets before they

are guided up Market Street to parking lots at the dead-end of Little

League Boulevard. From there, they hike up to Lamade Gymnasium

and down College Place to the historic but undersized Drum House.

This sequence effectively functions as an obstacle for those who

don’t yet know Lycoming. Admitted student surveys continue to

indicate that Lycoming’s campus surroundings are held in lower

regard than those of peer institutions, and are often cited as a

major reason why respondents have chosen to enroll elsewhere. (Of

course, it is impossible to know how many other would-be prospects

simply moved on, without once setting foot on the beautiful Fultz

Quadrangle, or hearing from an admissions counselor about

research and travel opportunities, or seeing first-hand the Lycoming

faculty’s commitment to individual student attention.)

Meanwhile, over the ensuing decades, those who do know

the College had watched its campus become more fortress-like,

particularly at the southern and western edges of campus. There, in

Williamsport’s oldest neighborhood, the sizeable pockets of neglect

and decay — and ultimately large swaths of demolition — had

created a virtual no-man’s land between the campus community and

the downtown activity west of Market Street.

But in his first few weeks as president, Dr. Kent Trachte asked

a simple and logical question about campus visitors that manifestly

underscored Shangraw’s vision: “Which way does their GPS send them?”

“Probably up Basin Street” came the answer, and so Trachte

reasoned that, whether we liked it or not, Basin Street was our

entrance. So maybe the College needed to consider treating it as such.


In 2008, Williamsport played host to the

Pennsylvania Governor’s Awards for the Arts

— among the honorees was Lycoming College

creative writing professor Sascha Feinstein

as “Artist of the Year” — and new hotels and

restaurants, art galleries and loft apartments

were springing up.

City government and county planners needed

to provide a growth area for the resurging

success of downtown Williamsport. The

following year, local government rezoned a large

section of the downtown east of Market Street

and south of Lycoming’s campus as “Central

Business District” to match the burgeoning

west end, with the added goal of relocating light

industrial and warehousing activities to more

appropriate parts of the city.

A zoning map amendment alone would

not be enough to affect real change, however.

The process begged for leadership and

partnership, thoughtful study, and private

capital to match any investment in public




decade ago, the late board chairman

emeritus Bob Shangraw ’58, H’04

stood at the corner of Basin Street and

that glorified alleyway between Third and

Fourth Streets known as Willow Street,

telling anyone who would listen that

“this should be the grand entrance to

Lycoming College.”