Former school president’s name on housing site

The former president of Lycoming College, Dr. James E. Douthat, was honored Thursday evening at the Douthat Commons dedication ceremony on the Lycoming College campus.

Members of the Lycoming College community, board and many more, packed into Douthat Commons to honor him and his wife, Emily, for all their contributions to the college. The current president of the college, Dr. Kent Trachte, welcomed everyone to the dedication and told the crowd how much the Douthats care for the college and all that they have done for it.

“They care for this college like it is one of their children,” said Trachte.

Douthat served as president of the college for 24 years, making him the third longest-serving president in the college’s 200-year history. During his time as president, he worked with trustees, faculty, alumni, students and staff to raise Lycoming’s academic reputation, and created a financial base on which to build the future of the college.

Lycoming was able to create educational enhancements during his time as president. Douthat created the Office of the Assistant Dean for Freshmen to support the transition to college; developed the Institute for Management Studies, to create a programmatic umbrella to enhance the business; accounting and economic departments; and established the Visiting Scholars Program, to bring directors, conductors, writers, ambassadors and others into the college’s classrooms.

Also during his 24 years at the college, tens of millions of dollars were spent to build new facilities including: Shangraw Athletic Complex, Recreation Center, Mary Lindsay Welch Honors Hall and The Commons, student residences, now renamed Douthat Commons.

While president, U.S. News & World Report ranked Lycoming College 11th in the nation among liberal arts and science institutions for the “value added” to the education experience given to its students. U.S. News also named the college a “tier one” liberal arts college.

The Douthats also have made outright gifts to the college, of more than $225,000, and arranged for the college to receive an additional $250,000 upon their deaths. They also have endowed two scholarships: The E. Hayden Gwaltney Scholarship, named in memory of Douthat’s high school mathematics teacher, and The Robert and Thelma Douthat Scholarship, in honor of his parents. Both scholarships aid students who have career interests in teaching and are majoring in mathematics or history.

During the dedication, board chairman Peter R. Lynn, explained the process of building the Douthat Commons and how Douthat was involved in every step of the process. The Douthat Commons are apartment-style dormitories for students on campus.

Student Senate President Greg Vartan, then spoke about how Douthat’s sense of humor helped them build a relationship and how he related to the students on campus. Vartan explained that with Douthat’s contribution Lycoming College has become an even greater place for education.

“This is a place you are really glad to call home,” Vartan said.

Douthat then responded to the dedication by thanking the trustees for the honor. He explained that the goal for himself and the trustees is to create the finest educational opportunities for the students.

The crowd then moved outside to unveil the Douthat Commons sign outside the building. The Douthats lifted the cover to revel the sign and to formally change the name of the building from The Commons to Douthat Commons.