Dr. Lewis Evitts Thayne became the College's 18th president on Aug. 1, 2012. When he arrived, Dr. Thayne was asked to lead the institution through a successful reaffirmation of its Middle States Commission on Higher Education accreditation.
During his first four and a half years as president, Dr. Thayne has focused his efforts on innovation and on strengthening the College’s academic, alumni, athletic, enrollment, fundraising, inclusive excellence, physical plant, strategic planning, and student life areas through his leadership and vision.
In academics, Dr. Thayne has overseen the addition of eight new academic programs (accounting/MBA (accelerated), analytical finance, athletic training, communication sciences & disorders, environmental science, exercise science, international business, and speech-language pathology), the first online courses, the first major revision of the College’s General Education Program (Constellation LVC) in more than two decades, and the creation of numerous high-impact programs that benefit student and faculty learning. He created several new academic support centers—Center for Accessibility Resources, Center for Global Education, Center for Career Development, Center for Writing & Tutoring Resources, and Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning—to help all students succeed.
Innovation has been a consistent focus of Dr. Thayne’s presidency. Through the creation of a series of innovation funds, Dr. Thayne has established an internal proposal-driven, grant-making economy to catalyze innovation and incubate new ideas. The Inclusive Excellence Fund, Edward H. Arnold and Jeanne Donlevy Arnold Program for Experiential Education, Breen Technology Fund, High-Impact Experience Fund, John Bowman Allwein Scholars Program, and Student Innovation Fund are among the programs established by Dr. Thayne to provide opportunities for innovation and engaged learning.
President Thayne has made Inclusive Excellence an institutional priority since day one of his presidency. The annual Symposium on Inclusive Excellence was established in his first year in office. Inclusive Excellence is a strategic focus area for the new strategic plan, Envision 2020, and he has continually challenged the institution to increase diversity among faculty and staff. Under Dr. Thayne’s leadership, efforts to diversify the student body and make the College more inclusive have yielded impressive results. The number of LVC's multicultural/international students doubled in recent years.
Dr. Thayne has overseen the reorganization of the Office of Multicultural Affairs into the Office of Intercultural Affairs & Inclusive Programs, along with several College firsts. These initiatives include hiring the College's first professor of Africana studies, creating a Student Task Force on Inclusive Excellence, adding women's ice hockey as an NCAA sport, establishing dedicated campus space for multicultural student organizations and the College's first Black Student Union, forming official partnerships with a diverse religious volunteer staff, and renovating several campus facilities to offer ALL-Gender restroom facilities. Additionally, key upgrades addressing mobility and access have been addressed that will improve accessibility challenges on campus.
In 2015, Dr. Thayne guided the institution in the establishment of a new strategic plan–Envision 2020–that highlights four strategic focus areas, including development of a culture of inclusive excellence and high performance. In 2016, he developed and began implementation of a new campus master plan–One Campus. The master plan came at a unique time in LVC history, in parallel with Envision 2020 and coinciding with the 150th anniversary of Lebanon Valley College. One Campus was developed to support an evolution of the campus through time, while keeping core LVC values and physical assets at the forefront.
Dr. Thayne has developed programs and initiatives to strengthen the institution in its current enrollment market and to expand those markets geographically and demographically, including a trip to China in the spring of 2014. Other related initiatives include doubling the staff in the Center for Global Education and hiring the College's first assistant director of international admission.
Campus and adjacent facilities have experienced a transformation under President Thayne's leadership. In addition to the expansion of the College's land holdings and creation of the Lebegern Learning Commons, seven academic and residential facilities were transformed and a new athletic facility–Shankroff Tennis Center–was completed in August 2016. Moreover, Dr. Thayne worked closely with government officials to undertake an extensive PennDOT project that, once completed in late spring 2017, will revitalize White Oak Street and the major Route 934 thoroughfare through campus, providing safer and easier access to the College's North Campus. A comprehensive campus signage system, the first in the College's history, was installed in 2015.
Dr. Thayne recently partnered with Jeanne Donlevy Arnold H'08 and Edward H. Arnold H'87 on the largest gift–$10 million–in the College's history, which is also one of the largest gifts ever received by a college or university in central Pennsylvania. The Arnold's generosity will benefit generations of students, as well as the surrounding community. It will establish the new Jeanne and Edward H. Arnold Health Professions Pavilion, opening in fall 2018. In 2013, Dr. Thayne accepted the nearly $5 million bequest of Dr. John Allwein '56, which now funds a scholarship endowment for exceptionally talented applicants to the College.
In January 2017, Dr. Thayne was elected to serve on the board of directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, where he is a member of the Tax Policy Committee. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania.
Before LVC, Dr. Thayne served for seven years as vice president of college advancement at Franklin & Marshall College (F&M) in Lancaster. There, he built an advancement program that produced seven years of record-breaking results and led efforts to complete successful campaigns for 12 individual capital projects, securing more than $140 million in institutional support.
Prior to F&M, Dr. Thayne was vice president for institutional advancement at Agnes Scott College from 1999–2005. There, he created the first advancement division in the college's history, leading a staff of 30 in development, alumnae relations, and communications in completing a record-breaking $72 million campaign and placing the College among the 50 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in U.S. News & World Report.
He began his administrative career at Columbia University where he held a variety of alumni relations and development posts. Dr. Thayne has held positions at Bucknell University, Mount Holyoke College, Agnes Scott College, and Franklin & Marshall. Throughout his career, Dr. Thayne has maintained an active involvement with the classroom, teaching first-year seminars and several upper-level classes. He has taught or been a guest lecturer at F&M, Agnes Scott College, Mount Holyoke College, the University of Massachusetts, Bucknell University, Princeton University, and Rutgers University.
Dr. Thayne graduated from Wyoming Seminary in Kingston, Pa. After earning bachelor's and master's degrees at Rutgers University, Dr. Thayne received his master's and doctorate in comparative literature at Princeton University. His wife, Dorothy, is visiting artist and scholar at LVC and is an accomplished iconographer who graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and received her master's from Rutgers University. They have two daughters, Anne and Julia, and a son, Anthony. The Thaynes proudly reside on the north side of LVC's campus at the Kreiderheim residence.