What began as acknowledgement of President Davie Jane Gilmour’s support of the ROTC program at Pennsylvania College of Technology has resulted in a Commander’s Award for Public Service – among the highest honors the U.S. Army can bestow on a civilian.
Lt. Col. Daniel B. George from the Bucknell University-based Bison Battalion, which comprises Penn College and four other institutions in the Susquehanna Valley, had intended a less formal recognition of the administration’s commitment to students in military service. But once he started the research toward documentation, he said, he found ample reason to take it further.
“Originally, we were going to present her with a token of thanks for helping us out at Penn College. I was going to do something at my level,” said George, a professor of military science at Bucknell. “However, after reviewing her ‘bio,’ I decided to submit her for a public service award.”
The medal, which ranks among the highest awarded to nonmilitary personnel, honors “service or achievements that contribute significantly to the accomplishment of the mission of an Army activity, command or staff agency.”
“I was humbled and honored beyond words,” Gilmour said. “I immediately thought of my father and his Army service; I wish he was here for me to share this with him. On behalf of our students and ROTC, I am honored.”
The nomination narrative notes that, previously, the Army ROTC program at Penn College was little-known and in danger of being removed from the partnership with Bucknell, Susquehanna and Bloomsburg universities and Lycoming College. Its cadets now comprise more than 15 percent of the battalion, and the program has been established as an official college organization under the vice president for academic affairs.
“She worked with the program to increase visibility on campus by allowing big-impact recruiting events, such as static displays of PA National Guard helicopters before transportation to our Field Training Exercises and presentations to the student body,” the nomination continues. Gilmour also arranged for an office and computer access on campus, which allowed the cadre to work from Penn College instead of commuting from Lewisburg, and provided space to host classes.
“Dr. Gilmour not only is very important to the ROTC program at Penn College of Technology, but to the community and higher education,” George wrote. “(She) gives a tremendous amount of her time to the community,” including as chair of the Little League International Board of Directors and the First Community Foundation of Pennsylvania, and service to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Her varied civic affiliations also touch on workforce and tourism development, regional health care and the arts community.
In Gilmour’s office on April 24, George and battalion liaison officer Briton D. Orndorf presented the president with the medal, the official citation and a lapel pin that she said she will proudly wear at commencement.
“During the period May 1998 through March 2013, Dr. Gilmour’s visionary leadership contributed immensely to the overall success of the Bison Battalion, Penn College of Technology and the Williamsport community,” the award certificate reads. “She positively influences the lives of thousands of students and hundreds of Cadets. Her contributions are in keeping with the highest ideals of selfless service and community involvement.”