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As his administrative career

continued, Trachte assumed increasing

responsibilities. He served as associate

vice president and dean of freshmen for

nine years and associate provost and dean

for educational services for three years

before being named dean of the college

in 2003.

As dean of the college, one of his

most important endeavors was leading

an effort to establish F&M’s College

House System, a residential system led

by faculty and governed by students. It

represents a distinctive way of connecting

students’ lives in the residential

environment with the liberal arts values

that inform the curriculum. He says it

represents the completion of the project

of reimagining that began with the first-

year seminar program.

“It reimagines holistically how

students enter into F&M and its liberal

arts culture, which permeates both the

curriculum and experiences found beyond

the boundaries of the formal classroom,”

he said. “Through these two initiatives

the faculty has reshaped the way students

experience the liberal arts at F&M.”

Primed and ready

When Trachte was named president in

mid-November by the board of trustees,

he was well aware of Lycoming’s 200-

year history and how the college had

been recently transformed into a national

liberal arts and sciences institution under

the leadership of the board and President

James Douthat. Prior to assuming the

helm on July 1, Trachte made numerous

trips to Williamsport to acquaint himself

with the various members of the campus

community. Those meetings, luncheons

and one-on-one discussions gave him

the perfect opportunity to meet his new

teammates – students, faculty, staff,

trustees and alumni – and learn more

about this place that means so much to so

many people.

He feels well-prepared for his next


“I believe the residential liberal

arts college is the best form of higher

education that has been invented,”

Trachte said. “During my presidency, I

want Lycoming College to compete for

the greater recognition that it deserves.

There is extraordinary potential at this


Lycoming Magazine

caught up with

Trachte during his first few days on

the job.

What is the key to being a

successful college leader?

Inspiring the community toward a

vision of excellence and then generating

the resources needed to bring ideas to


As a longtime college administrator,

what is the most important thing

you’ve learned about leadership?

There is a popular notion that strong

leaders are singular figures who do things

on their own and deserve credit for what-

ever happens. I believe that this is a myth.

Rather, the most important thing about

leadership is inspiring the whole com-

munity to engage and then enabling them

to imagine the things that they can do

together. It also involves putting in place

the organizational structures that make it

possible for people to work productively

and move in concert. That is the essence

of leadership for me – creating an

environment where transformational

change becomes possible.

What excites you about serving as

Lycoming’s 15



Having read John Piper’s history of

Lycoming College, I see it as an

institution that has been evolving to-

ward ever-greater excellence since the

founding in 1812. I think the institution

is positioned to continue that evolution

and achieve even greater excellence

and recognition. This decade will be a

challenging and volatile one in higher

education, but Lycoming College has

some assets that will allow it not to just

weather this period, but to continue its

evolution toward greater excellence. One

of those assets is the faculty, which I

have had the opportunity to meet during

the course of the spring semester. I have

learned that the faculty is a dedicated

group of teachers and scholars who have

a formative influence on the young men

and women who attend here. Secondly,

thanks to Jim Douthat, Lycoming has the

financial strength to meet the challenges

of the next decade. I am excited because

I think Lycoming can make progress at a

time when many institutions are going to

find it difficult to maintain their current

positions and the quality of education that

they offer.

What would you like to convey

to the Lycoming College alumni?

Since my appointment, I have

discovered just what a special place

Lycoming College is in terms of the

faculty, staff, students and alumni – the

people who compose the college. I have

learned about the role it has played in the

history of higher education in America

and the impact it has on people. It really

is a special place. But, like many colleges,

it is a special place that is not adequately

recognized for just how exceptional it is.

Because of the leadership of all who have

come before – presidents, trustees, faculty

and the alumni – the college is positioned

for us to move in a very strategic and

aggressive way to advance the quality of

what is offered and achieve recognition

as one of the finest liberal arts colleges in

this country. That is where we are going.

As you settle into your new

surroundings, what are your

impressions of Williamsport?

Williamsport offers most of the

advantages of a big city. There is a

thriving arts community, diversity among

the population, excellent restaurants,

hotels and lots of interesting things to do

in the area. Yet, it also offers the close

sense of community that you would

find in a smaller town. Williamsport

offers the sophistication of a city and

the connectedness of a small town in

a physical setting that is absolutely

stunning. It is really unusual to find that

combination. For Sharon and me, both of

those things are important.

“I believe the residential

liberal arts college

is the best form

of higher education that

has been invented.”