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Anniversary Surprise Celebrates President’s ’20/40′ Landmark

Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour avows an aversion to surprises, but she received a noteworthy one Thursday while conducting the all-college meeting to end the 2017-18 academic year. As the transition was taking place between the awards presented for Employee Recognition Week and the president’s customary year-ending address, Elliott Strickland, vice president for student affairs, interrupted the proceedings to introduce a special ceremony commemorating Gilmour’s 20th year as president and 40th year as an employee of the college.

First, the standing-room-only crowd of faculty and staff who gathered in the Klump Academic Center Auditorium were treated to a big-screen photographic retrospective of Gilmour’s 20 years as president. “In your first speech to the college community as a newly minted president, you stated that, ‘People make the difference.’” Strickland said. “Today, we want to celebrate the difference you have made in countless lives, including all of ours.”

Congratulatory remarks and presentation of gifts followed. The presenters were Student Government Association President Caleb E. Cartmell, representing students; Mary Jo Saxe, associate professor of dental hygiene, representing faculty (Gilmour began her college service as a dental hygiene faculty member); and Penn College Board Chairman Sen. Gene Yaw, who gave Gilmour a pin honoring her 40 years of service to the institution, which she officially began leading as president on May 4, 1998.

The president, clearly moved by the tribute, still had an address to deliver, which she typically ends with an inspirational quote. This time, nothing she reviewed seemed appropriate, and so she crafted her own, as she had done 20 years ago.

“You matter,” the president told employees. “You matter to your family, to our students and to your colleagues. Never doubt that you matter, and that what you do makes a difference. Please keep caring, sharing and believing in Penn College. I do.”

– Photos by Larry D. Kauffman, digital publishing specialist/photographer

 

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