Lycoming College History

The history of Lycoming College has been one of continual evolution. The institution has been, at one time or another, an elementary and secondary school, a seminary, a junior college and at present a four-year liberal arts college — going through four names in the process. Sold by an independent board to the Methodists (who bought it as a source of revenue), it is today an independent nonprofit, private college, affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

Its beginning dates back to 1812 — making Lycoming one of the 50 oldest colleges in     America — when it was founded as the Williamsport Academy, that city’s first elementary and secondary school. The school was administered by a Board of Trustees made up primarily of staunch Presbyterians.

By 1848, Williamsport had its own public school system well in place, and the private school was becoming a financial burden. A visionary circuit preacher, Rev. Benjamin H. Crever, persuaded the Methodists to buy the school. They named the institution Dickinson Seminary and offered college preparatory courses. Rev. Crever is considered the school’s true founder.

The seminary operated as a private boarding school until 1929 when a college curriculum was added and it became the Williamsport Dickinson Junior College, the first private junior college in Pennsylvania.

In 1947, the junior college became a four-year degree-granting college of liberal arts and sciences. It adopted the name Lycoming, derived from the American Indian word “lacomic,” meaning “Great Stream,” a name that enjoys local popularity as the name of the county, a township and a creek.

In its evolutionary tradition, Lycoming College continues to expand its programs and improve its academic excellence with each decade, seeking to provide a truly distinguished baccalaureate education to every student entering its doors.