Lycoming College introduced president-elect Dr. Kent Trachte to faculty, staff, trustees and the public at an open house Thursday afternoon.
Trachte, dean of the college at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster since 2003, will become Lycoming College's 15th president on July 1, 2013.
"We chose him for one very simple reason," outgoing president Dr. James Douthat said in his introductory remarks. "We think he's the person best prepared to lead Lycoming College into its future."
Incoming President Dr. Kent Trachte addresses faculty and staff Thursday at Lycoming College.
Lycoming College President Dr. James Douthat, left, and incoming President Dr. Kent Trachte walk down the sidewalk to the Welch Honors Hall for an open house in Trachte’s honor on Thursday.
Lycoming College incoming President Dr. Kent Trachte and his wife Dr. Sharon Trachte are introduced during an open house for the 15th college president at the Welch Honors Hall on Thursday.
In his address, Trachte referred to the mission of the college as its founders understood it - preparing students for "what Aristotle regards as the highest role for human beings, participating in democratic governance."
"We want to prepare our students to compete even more successfully for opportunities that await them after graduation," Trachte said. "They are likely to have a number of different positions and careers compared to my generation - their specific knowledge will be antiquated within five or 10 years. We want them to know how to learn, we must teach them how to go find information they need,
how to test propositions in critical dialogue We must equip our students to articulate for prospective employers the skills they've developed and how those skills are relevant to their employer."
Trachte said the college's current combination of stable finances - it has a $165 million endowment - and national standing - it is recognized as a Tier One Liberal Arts College by U.S. News and World Report - leaves its leadership "free to exercise our imaginations and think boldly about the Lycoming College of the future and ensure the college's place in a new territory, its standing as a national liberal arts college.
"The best national liberal arts colleges draw students from across the United States and abroad their student population is a mosaic. We might consider accelerating internationalization," he added.
The exploding middle class around the world is interested in the liberal arts educations available in America, and those students come prepared to help pay for the cost of their degree, Trachte said. He noted that Lycoming has a particularly strong recruiting base in Vietnam.
Trachte spoke about the challenge of controlling the cost of a college degree.
"Cost is one issue that the whole community of colleges is having to address right now," he said. "From the mid-1990s through late 2008, colleges were increasing room and board at a pretty aggressive rate. In the future, institutions like Lycoming College can't be thinking of tuition increases as a way of adding to the budget."
Incoming freshmen at Lycoming in 2012-13 had an estimated combined cost of tuition, room and board, and fees of $42,401. A 3-percent tuition increase and 5-percent room and board increase took effect after the 2011-12 academic year. The college gave out $24 million in student aid last year, according to public relations Director Jerry Rashid.
Trachte's wife, Dr. Sharon Trachte, will leave her position in the Department of French Language and Literature at Elizabethtown College and work as a mentor of elementary school children in the area.
"I want to work with leaders to ensure the education system in Williamsport is preparing children for the future," he said. "You'll see us all over the place."