New president eager for science building construction

After nearly a quarter century with Dr. James E. Douthat at the helm of Lycoming College, the school is preparing to usher in a new era as Dr. Kent C. Trachte takes over the helm for his first semester as president. But the college campus also will be changing in the coming years.

During a recent visit to the Sun-Gazette, Trachte announced that the school will begin construction of a new science building and planetarium. The project, which will cost less than $10 million, is expected to be completed in about two years.

“By the fall of 2015, it should be open and ready to use. That’s a project that I’m excited about,” he said.

The new building will not only sit next to the Heim Building, where science courses already are taught, but will connect to it.

As Trachte explained, as science is ever-evolving, there constantly is a need for colleges and institutions to update their facilities to better meet students’ needs.

Trachte said the new buildings will become a “focal point” on the college’s campus.

“It’s an important project for the college,” he noted.

Details still need to be worked out in order to assure that studies are not disturbed by construction. And although the facility will be new, it will blend right in with the rest of the campus’ Georgian architecture. As Trachte explained, it will be “traditional on the outside, but cutting-edge on the inside.”

Trachte believes the facilities can be community assets, as well.

He already has met with Dr. Don Adams, Williamsport Area School District superintendent, about how the district could use the new facility.

That partnership between the community and college is one he has and will continue to foster during his tenure, Trachte said. His wife, Dr. Sharon Trachte, would like to volunteer at local schools, the new president said.

With just about a month until Trachte’s first semester at Lycoming College president begins, he said he’s excited for the opportunity.

“What excites me is to be on the Lycoming College campus any day and to be able to experience, see what I think is that kind of magic between dedicated faculty and committed students,” he said.

And despite economic challenges, which include the increasing amount of students who require financial aid to attend college, Trachte believes Lycoming is positioned – armed with a healthy endowment fund from Douthat’s tenure – to take on such challenges.

A competitive attitude, which he developed through athletics, will help during this time, Trachte believes.

“Through all of my life, I’ve relished the opportunity to compete to accomplish something,” Trachte said.

And it is his goal to make Lycoming even more well known both nationally and internationally.

“From the first time I was on the Lycoming campus,” he noted, “it was obvious that it has the attributes of one of the best liberal arts colleges, what I think, in the country.”