Thursday, September 28, 2006

In Memoriam: Former College President Charles H. Trout

Chestertown, MD, September 27, 2006 — Charles H. "Chuck" Trout, President of Harcum College and former president of Washington College, died on September 27, 2006, of complications from blood cancer. He was 70.

Dr. Trout served as President of Washington College from 1990-1995 and continued to be an active member of the Chestertown community after he assumed the presidency of Harcum College in Bryn Mawr, PA, in 2002.

Officials at Harcum College credit Dr. Trout with revitalizing the two-year college, nearly doubling enrollments and building robust programs in nursing, radiologic technology, sports management and criminal justice, as well as increasing fundraising by seventy-five percent and enhancing facilities with new labs, classrooms, and a dental clinic. He also resurrected Harcum's intercollegiate athletic program.

"Higher education in general and Harcum College in particular has lost a champion," said Dennis S. Marlo, Chair of the Harcum Board of Trustees.

At Washington College, Dr. Trout is remembered for his early recognition that historic Chestertown and the surrounding Chesapeake Bay watershed posed tremendous opportunities for students as "a learning laboratory." The Chesapeake regional studies program he initiated during his tenure was a forerunner of the College's environmental studies major and the Center for the Environment and Society. He also envisioned a center for the study of American history, an idea brought to fruition a decade later with the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience.

Dr. Trout's legacy at Washington College includes a more diversified student body, a sabbatical program for junior faculty, and programs in behavioral neuroscience and gender studies. A sports enthusiast, he was responsible for a number of initiatives that enhanced the intercollegiate athletic experience for undergraduates, especially women. Under his leadership, the College joined the Centennial Conference as a charter member.

His years at Washington College were also marked by a number of important physical changes to the campus—construction of the Benjamin A. Johnson Lifetime Fitness Center, renovation of Hodson Hall, and significant landscaping, including the removal of interior parking.

"Many of Chuck Trout's initiatives have been responsible for some of our greatest successes," current Washington College President Baird Tipson said. "He laid the groundwork for our centers in American history and the environment, and his decision to join the Centennial Conference placed Washington College within a solid group of athletic and academic peers. He cared deeply about diversity issues and was willing to take risks to attract a more diverse student body."

After leaving Washington College, Dr. Trout and his wife Katherine spent a year in Kenya through the Teachers for Africa program. In their time there, Mrs. Trout built the first freestanding primary school library in the Western Highlands and Dr. Trout oversaw the largest school fundraiser in the history of West Kenya, raising enough to bring running water and electricity into the boarding school, build a new academic wing with two large classrooms and a library, construct a new cookhouse, and erect the school's first permanent dormitory.

Educated at Amherst College (B.A.) and Columbia University (M.A. and Ph.D.), Dr. Trout began his teaching career at The Hill School in Pottstown, PA, and The Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH. He joined the faculty of Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, in 1969, where he became chairman of the history department. While at Mount Holyoke, he was named a National Endowment for the Humanities Senior Fellow and a Charles Warren Fellow at Harvard University. He moved to Colgate University in New York, in 1981, where he served as provost for a decade before assuming the presidency of Washington College.

A social historian, Dr. Trout was the author of Boston, The Great Depression, and the New Deal, as well as dozens of articles, papers and reviews. He was at work on a book about his experiences in Africa at the time of his death.

Dr. Trout was chairman of the board of World Education in Boston and served on the board of Sultana Projects in Chestertown. A gardener, gourmet cook, and avid golfer, Trout will be remembered for his infectious enthusiasm and buoyant spirit. "He was full-steam ahead with everything he did," his wife Katherine said.

In addition to his wife, Katherine Taylor Trout, Dr. Trout is survived by two sons, Nicolas H. Trout of Virginia Beach, VA, and Benjamin C. Trout of South Portland, ME, and a daughter, Katherine D. Griffiths of Cambridge, MA, as well as five grandchildren.

A candlelight vigil in Dr. Trout's honor was held in front of the president's house on the Harcum campus on September 29. A public memorial service will be held on Saturday, October 21, at 10 a.m. at the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 625 Montgomery Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010 ( There will be a reception immediately following the service at the President's House on the Harcum College campus, located directly across the street from the church.

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