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Lycoming Gateway Building announced

October 2, 2016
By SETH NOLAN, Williamsport Sun-Gazette

CARA MORNINGSTAR/Sun-Gazette
Robert Sclafani, left, and Jane Rabe, right, enjoy the virtual reality demonstration during the launch event of the new capital campaign at Lycoming College on Saturday. In talking about the "Campaign for a Greater Lycoming," Dr. Kent Trachte, college president, said school officials hope to create "the coveted degree of the future."

With a mind for making Lycoming College one of the nation's top liberal arts institutions and strengthening its connections to the city, college officials on Saturday announced a $65 million capital campaign.

Also announced was the proposed construction of a new Gateway Building that will transform the college campus and contribute to the school's ongoing collaboration with the city and the county planning department for redevelopment of the Old City/East Third Street Gateway area.

In talking about the "Campaign for a Greater Lycoming," Dr. Kent Trachte, college president, said school officials hope to create "the coveted degree of the future."

"In establishing this priority, we are responding to the voices of those who question the continuing relevance of the liberal arts," he said. "We know that this argument is not supported by the facts that show that corporate CEOs are seeking the very skills that we develop through our liberal arts program: critical thinking, clear communication and cross-cultural.

"We also know that Lycoming College graduates are innovators and can adapt to a changing world."

Officials hope to apply new resources toward programs in enhanced academic experiences, energy studies, the environment and entrepreneurship as well as increased scholarships, study abroad, undergraduate research and internship opportunities for students.

The college hopes to establish "points of distinction," he said. Those include the development of a "Center for Energy and the Future" and the expansion of the Clean Water Institute.

"Because of the college's deep roots in the liberal arts, it is committed to delivering a degree that prepares graduates not only for their first job, but for their entire career," said Chip Edmonds, vice president for college advancement. "This campaign will further raise the value of a Lycoming degree."

The college started formulating plans for the campaign in 2013 and already has raised around $45 million, said Patrick Marty, executive director of communications and external relations.

The goal is to raise the remaining $20 million by June 30, 2019.

"During the remainder of the campaign, we will seek gifts to establish endowed and current use internships as well as scholarships that make study abroad accessible to all students," Trachte said.

The college offers nearly $30 million annually in financial aid, but endowed scholarships cover only about 5 percent of that, he said.

"In this campaign, we have already raised slightly more than $13 million in outright and deferred commitments to establish endowed scholarships," Trachte said. "We seek to raise another $7 million by the end of the campaign."

The college also hopes to transform the campus. The college trustees have endorsed the Gateway Project. Since Trachte arrived on campus, the college partnered with the city and county on the Old City/East Third Street Gateway area and provided a consultant on that project.

A new proposed Gateway Building will have four components, Marty said.

The new building will be the first impression of the college for new and prospective students.

It also will be the new location of the Center for Outdoor Leadership and Education, Advancement and Alumni Affairs and the Center for Enhanced Academic Experiences - the central location for the opportunities in internships, study abroad and faculty community-based learning that are the core aspects of the campaign, Edmonds said.

The building also will have a 150-seat presentation space, classrooms and study rooms, Trachte said.

"The progress on the building is still in preliminary stages," Marty said. "We've gotten as far as architect renderings of what it would look like, but there are still space and other planning considerations being studied."

Although it is difficult to say when construction on the building will begin, Marty said that everything should be completed by the June 2019 goal.

"By extending our presence into Old City, we will complete the next phase of building out Lycoming," Trachte said.

As part of the project, the college wants to work with the city, the county and private developers to make changes to that section of the city using state and private funds.

Included is the rerouting of Franklin Street and the transformation of Basin Street into a two-way boulevard from the exit off of Interstate 180 that goes to and ends at the new building.

"The college also plans to partner with a private developer on a mixed use project that includes attractive retail and apartments along the west side of Basin Street between Third and Fourth streets," Trachte said.

Copyright Williamsport Sun-Gazette, used by permission

Arial view of Lycoming College football field