Don ’72 and Yvonne Hughes admit they get “fired up” when they hear President Kent Trachte talk about Lycoming’s 21st-century liberal arts education. The couple believes very strongly in the liberal arts mission of the College and maintains a high level of involvement because they want the Campaign for a Greater Lycoming to succeed in Creating the Coveted Degree of the Future. “We are so excited for what Lycoming can become, and we want others to be as energized around this campaign as we are,” said Don.
“The campaign affects a whole range of different areas, but the one that speaks most directly to me is the Center for Enhanced Academic Experiences. I’ve seen firsthand over the years how important internships can be, as well as research and travel. This is what helps us move toward the 21st century,” said Don.
Yvonne and Don both explain that they come from modest means and realized early on that education would be their ticket to a better life. Don explained that as a high school student, he knew he needed to stay in Pennsylvania, so he applied to Pitt, Penn State and Lycoming. Accepted at all three, he chose Lycoming for its small size and beautiful campus. “My acceptance letter from Penn State was a very impersonal, bleak punch card, which gave me an appreciation for Lycoming’s personal touch,” he explained. “I really enjoyed my time there.”
Yvonne agreed, “I always enjoy going up to Lycoming. I love the area — people are always cordial and accepting. We travel to different places as well for Lycoming events, and everyone always makes me feel very welcome.”
Don believes it was the flexibility of his liberal arts education that enabled him to successfully reinvent himself throughout four different careers in business and finance. Now senior partner and COO at Camden Partners, he credits his Lycoming connections with helping him land his first job at Arthur Andersen LLP, which set his career on an upward trajectory.
It is those connections that got Don “hooked” on Lycoming. Helen Wideman and Logan Richmond are just two faculty members who went out of their way to form influential friendships with Don. And he still keeps up with fraternity brothers and friends from college.
Reflecting on his lasting relationship with Lycoming, Don said, “It is gratifying to give back to an organization that was so helpful to us and played such a critical role in launching my career and our lives, and to do it in a way that makes an impact. That’s why we first decided to establish the Donald ’72 and Yvonne Hughes Annual Scholarship in 2013, and support every year since. We’ve been able to help students from across campus with different majors, interests and backgrounds.” In addition, they established the Donald ’72 and Yvonne Hughes Enhanced Academic Experience Fund in 2014, an endowed fund that supports students’ experiential learning, including internships, student-faculty research and global travel. They are unwavering supporters of the Lycoming Fund. Don even returned to campus in 2011 to present as part of the College’s Institute for Management Studies’ James W. Harding Executive Speaker Series, and he and Yvonne often travel to alumni events to help engage and draw fellow Warriors back to their alma mater.
“When we both give to something, we need to feel we’re making a difference and a positive contribution, and we want to be involved in guiding and directing the organization.” They have given freely of their time through the years, and not only to Lycoming. It was Yvonne who first got Don interested in the Maryland Foodbank, and their shared interest in feeding the hungry led to a lengthy relationship with that organization, where Don served on the board for 12 years.
“I encourage others to give back and see the immediate impact for themselves. Today’s Lycoming College is not the Lycoming they knew years ago, or think they know today. All of the things they loved about Lycoming are still intact — low student-faculty ratio, close personal attention, small college feel. But over the last ten years, Lycoming has become much more relevant and has modernized. The dorms have been renovated, Lynn Science Center provides students with up-to-date classrooms and resources, the Outdoor Leadership and Education program is pioneering new ways to grow professionally and more.” Coupled with the College’s healthy endowment, all of this gives Lycoming the staying power to be around and continue to innovate, when other colleges may not have that luxury.
The Hughes encourage all alumni to look for something they can get excited about and support, whether it be athletics, the arts, science or something else. They feel there is “a lot to get excited about” on campus, and urge alumni to step up their involvement, because it’s never too late to find your passion.