Dr. James E. Douthat, who will retire as Lycoming College's 14th president in June after 24 years of service, has accepted an invitation by the College's board of trustees to deliver the keynote address at Lycoming's 165th commencement ceremony. The event will be held at 1 p.m. May 5 on the Quad, where the Class of 2013 will process through the Oliver Sterling Metzler Gate, which traditionally is opened just once-a-year on commencement day.
"President Douthat's contributions to the growth and success of Lycoming College are truly remarkable," said Peter Lynn, a 1969 alumnus of the College and board chair. "Both Jim and his wife, Emily, have touched the lives of countless students during their lifetime commitment to higher education. So it is fitting that he will lead us in celebrating the achievements of the Class of 2013. President Douthat's long-term dedication to the College and unparalleled work ethic are perfect examples for our students as they set out into the world."
During Douthat's tenure, Lycoming's academic profile was raised to that of a national liberal arts and sciences college. Today, Lycoming is consistently ranked as one of the nation's best colleges by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes.com and The Princeton Review.
The College's overall financial position has been significantly strengthened, as illustrated by the growth of the endowment from less than $19 million when he began in 1989 to more than $175 million today. Under his leadership, Lycoming's academic programs have grown and strengthened, strategic planning processes have been implemented, three major capital campaigns have been successfully concluded, a significant building and renovation program has been undertaken, and a revised curriculum for the college was adopted.
Tens of millions of dollars have been spent on new facilities, including the Shangraw Athletic Complex, Recreation Center, Mary L. Welch Honors Hall and The Commons, an apartment-style student residential complex. Major additions and renovations also have been undertaken, such as the expansion of the Wertz Student Center. During the past two decades, millions were focused on the growth and operational support of information technology and its integration throughout the academic curriculum of the College.
Numerous other educational enhancements were added during Douthat's presidency. Among them, the Office of the Assistant Dean for Freshmen to support the transition to College, the Institute for Management Studies to enhance the business, accounting and economics departments and the Visiting Scholars Program to bring directors, conductors, writers, ambassadors and others, some outside of academia, into the College's classrooms. The College now has more than 225 endowed scholarships, making it financially possible for hundreds of students to attend each year. Douthat also worked closely with donors to recognize excellent teaching and scholarship through the creation of nine endowed professorships.
Douthat has chaired numerous boards, including the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, the Middle Atlantic Conference and the Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce. He has served as a board member of Susquehanna Health, the National Advisory Board of The School of Theology at Claremont and on the NCAA's Presidents' Advisory Group for Division III. In 1999, Douthat led the Lycoming County United Way Campaign.
Douthat began his professional career at Duke University. He served there as dean for student life until 1980 when he went to Albion College, where he was executive vice president until he accepted the presidency at Lycoming in 1989.
Born in Petersburg, Va., Douthat earned a bachelor's degree from The College of William and Mary.
He holds a master's in divinity and a doctorate in educational management, both from Duke University. His interests include the study of American and English history, 18th- and 19th-century Japanese netsuke and international travel, having visited more than two dozen countries.
He and Emily are the parents of two grown children, Mark and Anna.