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Since his appointment as president in 2012, Dr. Lewis Evitts Thayne has led the college through a transformational time resulting in marked gains to student and graduate success. Milestones include the construction of the Jeanne and Edward H. Arnold Health Professions Pavilion as the premier academic facility for health professions in central Pennsylvania, a $10 million challenge gift from Jeanne and Edward Arnold to support the pavilion’s construction, the debut of successful academic programs, and three successive years of enrollment growth in one of the most crowded and competitive markets in the country.
Upon his arrival at the College in 2012, Dr. Thayne led an effort to improve assessment practices to address accreditation concerns raised by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The Chronicle of Higher Education profiled the comprehensiveness and speed of this success in 2013.
Dr. Thayne also made inclusive excellence an early institutional priority. Established his first year in office, the annual Symposium on Inclusive Excellence dedicates a full day for students, faculty, and staff to participate in events that encourage learning, growth, and commitment to diversity and inclusion. Additionally, Dr. Thayne created the Office of Inclusive and Intercultural Learning and the President’s Fund for Inclusive Excellence. These endeavors facilitate campus inclusiveness programming and support students with diverse identities.
Two years into his presidency, Dr. Thayne began a collaborative strategic planning process that resulted in the Envision 2020 strategic plan (2015). Envision 2020 has guided the launch or revamp of a more than a dozen academic programs designed to anticipate degree demand and student learning needs. These include the five-year, direct-entry master’s programs in athletic training and speech-language pathology, a new bachelor’s degree in exercise science, an accelerated 3+1 accounting/MBA program, the fully online MBA, an online certificate in modern band, the recently announced 3-year politics degree and certificate in higher education in the common law in partnership with the University of London, and a master’s in counseling psychology developed in collaboration with WellSpan Health. The college also significantly revised its core curriculum to create Constellation LVC to ensure students acquire the critical thinking, communication, analytical, and creative skills employers seek.
In January 2018, Dr. Thayne announced a significant step forward in the college’s strategic focus area of graduating world-ready students. The Edward and Lynn Breen Center for Graduate Success was established with a $1.5 million gift through the Breen Family Foundation from college trustee Edward D. Breen, chief executive officer of DowDuPont Inc., and his wife, Lynn. Launched in fall 2018, the Breen Center offers human skills training, professional coaching, personal branding, and mentoring to prepare students and graduates for success in business and society. Breen Center programming reaches students freshman year and progresses in correlation with their development, and it includes online students.
The focus on student success has yielded results in the form of prestigious awards to Lebanon Valley College students. In the last four years, 10 students have been named Fulbright Finalists, positioning the college as a Top Fulbright Producer. In recent years, students have received a Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship, an Eben Tisdale Fellowship, and a National Institute of Standards and Technology Research Fellowship. Most recently, a student was awarded a highly competitive Goldwater Scholarship. Dr. Thayne created the Director of External Scholarships and Fellowships faculty position to guide students through the application process for these and other awards.
A companion to Envision 2020, the One Campus master plan (2016) guides the college’s physical development, highlighting the natural beauty of campus and unifying the north and south sides into a seamless whole that enhances student learning and development. In August 2018, the college opened a facility that is an anchor of One Campus. The Jeanne and Edward H. Arnold Health Professions Pavilion is a 53,000-square-foot academic facility that houses the college’s growing athletic training, exercise science, and six-year Doctor of Physical Therapy programs. The $20 million space features human performance and gross anatomy labs, advanced technology, and flexible classroom spaces. The College has surpassed the $10 million challenge gift set by Edward and Jeanne Arnold to support the pavilion’s construction. The Arnolds' gift is the largest ever made to LVC.
Dr. Thayne also oversaw key facilities projects including the new Shankroff Tennis Center; the revitalization of the Vernon & Doris Bishop Library into a center of technology, collaboration, and academic engagement through a gift from the Bishop Foundation and family members Kathy, Thomas, and Trudie Bishop; the renovation of Frederic K. Miller Chapel; and the renovation of Mary Capp Green Residence Hall. He and his senior staff worked closely with government officials on an extensive PennDOT project to upgrade White Oak Street (Route 934), the campus’s major thoroughfare.
In May 2019, the college began construction to replace the footbridge connecting the north and south sides of campus. The new bridge will be accessible, well-lit, and aesthetically aligned with the campus fabric, uniting the north and south portions of campus. It is funded in part by a Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Multimodal Transportation Fund award of $2.4 million.
In 2017, Dr. Thayne joined the Board of Directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, to which he was elected treasurer for 2019–20. He also serves on the board of trustees for his high school alma mater, Wyoming Seminary. After graduating from Wyoming Seminary, Dr. Thayne earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at Rutgers University, then received his master's and a doctorate in comparative literature at Princeton University.
Before Lebanon Valley College, Dr. Thayne served for seven years as vice president of college advancement at Franklin & Marshall College 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. He began his administrative career at Columbia University and held positions at Bucknell University and Mount Holyoke College. 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 has contributed to the national conversation about the importance of a college degree and the need for colleges and universities to support students in recovery. He maintained his connection to the classroom throughout his career, most recently teaching a First-Year Experience course on the American Dream at LVC in fall 2017.