A Message from the President: Grateful Graduates

A Message from the President: Grateful Graduates

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We recently learned that Lycoming was ranked in the top 200 in a Grateful Graduates Index developed by Forbes.com. This rank verifies something that many of us know about Lycoming graduates — they are loyal and grateful for the education received at the College. Given that the index ranks all private not-for-profit colleges and universities with more than 500 students, our 171 ranking places Lycoming well within the top 10 percent.

I must admit that I was skeptical when I first heard about this latest Forbes index. After all, the number of rankings of colleges and universities has proliferated during the past decade to the point that navigating the space can be confusing. In addition, I regard some of the measures used in the rankings as deeply flawed. All too often, the measures reveal little about the quality of the educational experience offered by the institutions. After examining Forbes’ new measure more closely, however, I am convinced that it reveals something important — how alumni feel about their college experience.

The Grateful Graduate Index is composed of two variables: (1) the median of total private donations per enrolled student over the last seven years and (2) an alumni participation rate. Total median dollar donations are given a 70 percent weighting in the index and the alumni participation is given 30 percent. While I realize that not all alumni are in a position to make gifts, the combination of the two measures seems like a fair, reasonable, and balanced way of capturing one behavior that indicates whether alumni are pleased with the education provided by the alma mater. The fact that both measures control for institutional size adds to the validity of the index.

Lycoming’s placing among the best in the Grateful Graduate Index rankings also did not surprise me. As I have traveled the country meeting graduates during my six years in office, many Lycoming alumni have made a point of telling me, “I owe much of my professional success to Lycoming,” or “Lycoming changed my life.” In particular, alumni often cite a professor who served as an adviser and mentor and provided life-changing guidance. Another common sentiment has been the desire to provide the same opportunity to others, to give back.

The positive nature of alumni feelings for Lycoming has also been evident in the successful trajectory of The Campaign for a Greater Lycoming. Fifty-five percent of all alumni have made some type of commitment to the Campaign. Reflecting the desire to give back, more than $23 million has been committed to endowed scholarships. In addition, alumni have been instrumental in helping students secure amazing internships and job opportunities and referring new students to the College.

We are now entering the final months of the Campaign and need your help to close strongly. I invite you to join me on April 24 for Lycoming’s Day of Giving. Please mark your calendars and participate in this 24-hour event by making a gift to the College. Every gift matters, regardless of its size or designation.

As we bring 2018 to a close then, I want to thank all Lycoming alumni for the many ways in which you express your gratitude. With your loyalty as a foundation, Lycoming College can look to the future with optimism.

Kent C. Trachte, Ph.D., is the 15th president of Lycoming College.

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