New president lays out plan for Lycoming College

Leading Lycoming College in his first semester as president, Dr. Kent Trachte laid out his vision for making the college one of the best-regarded liberal arts schools in the country at Monday’s Rotary Club meeting.

Trachte said upon reading the history of the college by Dr. John Piper, there was the theme throughout the school’s history of a “continued evolution to ever-greater excellence.” And while Dr. James E. Douthat, Trachte’s predecessor, grew the college’s endowment fund and had the school recognized as a national liberal arts college, Trachte now hopes to have Lycoming be part of a “very select group” as one of the top 50 or so liberal arts schools in the nation.

“I think the ingredients are there for the college to achieve that,” he said.

In order to do so, Trachte laid out the college’s strategic plan to achieve this goal.

One piece of the puzzle is to create more “high-impact learning opportunities” for students. These opportunities include more situations where faculty members and students work alongside each other with research, studying abroad and internship programs.

Trachte said the college will look to build a summer internship program for students to work with the community in a variety of businesses and non-profit organizations.

He also said improving the college’s facilities was important, which already is underway as it recently renovated its residential building Rich Hall. Besides updating its residential buildings, Trachte said the school also is planning the construction of a new science building and planetarium.

The school expects breaking ground for the new science facility, which will be on the corner of Washington Boulevard and Mulberry Street, in the summer. It is expected to be completed by the fall of 2015, Trachte reported.

He also spoke on being aggressive in student recruitment as there will be more competition in the coming years.

Trachte said they will focus the college’s new recruitment areas both nationally and internationally. The school’s international efforts will begin in China, as he said about 60,000 new students come from China each year for undergraduate degrees.

Lycoming also will look at states, such as California, Texas and Florida, to expand their recruiting in. Trachte said bringing students in from outside of the area will benefit both the college and community, as it will showcase both.

“I think that’s good for the college and good for Williamsport,” he said.