The legacy of Kenneth E. Carl who was an instructor when Pennsylvania College of Technology forerunner Williamsport Technical Institute was founded and later became its director and the first president of Williamsport Area Community College continues with the graduation of his grandson from the college on May 15.
Michael J. Best, of Williamsport, earned an associate degree in electronics and computer engineering technology: robotics and automation emphasis.
Best remembers his grandfather as an encouraging listener with a great sense of humor.
“My early memories of him are fishing for sunfish, bluegills and salmon,” Best said. “He loved birds, wildlife and woodcarving. I can remember him teaching me to carve pieces of wood at some of our many weekends spent at his cabin.”
Carl, who died in April 2008 at the age of 94, was instrumental in shaping vocational education at both the state and national levels. His speeches, articles and legislative testimonies helped to raise awareness about vocational education, especially issues affecting disabled workers. He also worked to convince the state Legislature to pass the Pennsylvania Community College Act of 1963.
A 1931 graduate of Williamsport High School’s vocational-education program, which begat W.T.I., Carl’s tenure at the institution stretched from his appointment as a drafting instructor at the high school in 1937 to his retirement as W.A.C.C. president in 1973.
“My grandfather shared his love and passion for the college with all nine of his grandchildren, and I will be the fourth to graduate from Penn College,” Best said. “Even after many years of being retired from the college, he was always eager to tell others about its attributes and the positive influence that it has on so many students and the community.
“He was proud to see his vision and mission remain central in the development of the college. He always believed in a hands-on approach to education, and my professors in the electronics department are great examples of this. He was right; I feel that the curriculum and the education I received here will make me very employable.”
Best received a bachelor’s degree in business management from Alfred University in 2001, but decided to add a technical degree to his resume to give him a well-rounded background for employment in manufacturing and technology.
“I am very proud to be a part of my grandfather’s legacy and am pleased that I can be a part of his dream,” Best said.