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Award-Winning Employees Catalyst for ‘Global Responsibility’


Closing out the 2015-16 school year with a Thursday morning message to campus colleagues, President Davie Jane Gilmour honored meritorious employees who “have inspired us all to be more caring … more productive … and more vital members of this priceless Penn College community.” And looking ahead to the challenges of tomorrow, with 10 little words as a road map, she rallied others to follow that example when opening potential students’ eyes to Pennsylvania College of Technology. “It is important that everyone in the room realize that recruiting is a global responsibility. All of us play one of the key roles in the process,” she said. “All of us play a part and, without all of us working together, we cannot achieve our goals.”

(The following is drawn from the president’s remarks during a May 12 all-college meeting to end the 2015-16 academic year.)

Good morning.

We have once again reached that magical part of the academic year, when vacation (for some) is so close that they can almost taste it and, for others, there is the briefest of respites before we dive back into the deep end of the pool.

It is the moment when we pause to celebrate our graduates and full-time faculty, whom we will honor this weekend, and the distinguished employees that we single out today.

Good people all, they are the driving force that works and works and works on behalf of our students – and on behalf of one another – to make “Penn College Proud” more than a slogan.

In a year of state budget upheaval and national presidential politics, they are the ones who keep their promises … ensuring that our students have the best possible experience along their own road to academic and personal success.

I should note that Employee Recognition Week turns 21 this year, so we can legally raise a toast to the co-workers whom we honor today.

Let’s start with our retirees.

Retirees
The 2015-16 academic year brings the departure of 44 employees with nearly 900 years of total service among them!

Among their number are two Master Teachers, three winners of Excellence in Teaching Awards, four Distinguished Staff Award-winners and an honoree for Excellence in Part-Time Teaching.

Eighteen of them have been with the college for more than 25 years, eight for more than 30.

Diana Kuhns, recipient of two of those awards I mentioned, tops this year’s seniority list at more than 39 years as an administrator and mathematics faculty member.

Befitting Penn College’s pride at offering one of the longest-running continuous automotive programs in the country, the next-most senior retiree is John J. Macko Jr., who has been preparing technicians for nearly 37 years.

And Denny Dunkleberger, our patient and reliable registrar through many commencements, scheduling nightmares and stressful drop/add sessions, is leaving after more than 35.

I ask all of the retirees here to join me on stage as I announce your names … and to remain until the audience acknowledges the entire group.

Margaret Ayers
John R. Bartolomucci
Deborah C. Books
Sandra Carlson
Billie A. Coffman
Ronald E. Confair
Rhonda L. Davis
Natalie O. DeLeonardis
James E. Doebler
Deborah A. Dougherty
Richard L. Druckenmiller
Dennis L. Dunkleberger
Terri L. Farr
Patricia D. Fickes
Raymond J. Fischer Jr.
McClure T. Flook Sr.
Stephen L. Frazier
Julia R. Gilbert
Esther L. Greenawalt
Patricia J. Haefner
Beverly R. Hinston
Beverly A. Hunsberger
Diana L. Kuhns
Kenneth C. Kuhns
John J. Macko Jr.
John E. Manz
David L. Mauck
Jenny M. Maurer
Kathleen F. Mayer
Nancy A. Miller
Louis E. Myers
Lenore G. Penfield
Charlene A. Peter
Nancy C. Petrosky
Constance A. Rice
Gail A. Ritchey
Lydia D. Rockwell
William H. Schaefer
Shelley A. Sorgen
Kevin P. Sullivan
Sharon K. Waters
Keith M. Whitesel
Matthew C. Wilt
Waylene Young           

I hope you will remember us as fondly as we will you, and I hope you will visit on occasion to see what your accumulated wisdom has helped to bring about.

Let’s honor our retirees together.

Quarter Century Club
It is my honor to mention another group that helps keep us Penn College Proud: the faculty and staff who joined the college ranks 25 years ago.

1991 was the year of Operation Desert Storm and $1.12-a-gallon gasoline, of “Dances With Wolves” and 29-cent postage stamps, and the deaths of U.S. Sen. John Heinz and Dr. Seuss.

The Dow closed over 3,000 for the first time, Johnny Carson announced his retirement from “The Tonight Show,” the web browser was introduced … and Donald Trump proposed to Marla Maples with a 7.5-carat diamond.

And five longtime employees, as timelessly young as when they first showed up for work, became part of the campus family.

I ask them to please join me and receive our recognition.

Eric K. Albert
Lisa M. Dincher
Tom F. Gregory
Jane E. Oehme
Thomas F. Speicher

Please welcome this year’s class of Quarter Century Club inductees.

Part-Time Teaching Excellence Award
Now, I’m privileged to present the Part-Time Teaching Excellence Award to an exemplary member of our adjunct faculty.

Among staff honors, there is perhaps none more inaccurately named than the “part-time faculty” award.

I understand the distinction from a payroll standpoint, but our adjunct faculty approach their assignments with nothing less than full-time dedication.

This year’s award goes to Barbara A. McAndrew from the mathematics faculty.

And, in a theme that seems to echo across-the-board for today’s honorees, going “above and beyond” is second nature to her.

“My section … was an evening class and contained a few nontraditional students,” her nominator wrote. “When it was brought to her attention that the hours of the tutoring labs were not ideal for … students who work full-time and also may not live in the Williamsport area, Ms. McAndrew brought it upon herself to establish her own tutoring sessions.”

Barb also got kudos for running her classroom in an all-inclusive manner, when – like many of you – she deals with every type of student imaginable.

“From students who had very little background in mathematics, students who seemed to know too much to be in a remediation math class, students who would rather be staring at their phones and even a student who couldn’t afford the textbook,” her nominator said. “Barb McAndrew made it her mission to involve every student in a way that best utilized their specific skills and made this class a true group learning experience.”

Please join me in congratulating Barb McAndrew, this year’s award-winner for excellence in part-time teaching.

Excellence in Academic Advising
We now recognize two faculty members whose students most convincingly nominated them for Excellence in Academic Advising.

This year’s recipients are Mary R. Erdman, nursing instructor, and Richard J. Calvert, assistant professor of electronics, chosen from among the many faculty members who embrace their advisees’ dreams and keep them on track to realizing them.

In addition to encouraging her nominator to get involved in community service and campus activities, Mary stands ready to discuss all aspects of her students’ academic aspirations and challenges with a commendable ability to find any answers she lacks.

“She is incredibly knowledgeable regarding Nursing Department policies and curriculums, and if she happens to not know some bit of information, she readily admits it and is immediately making interdepartmental calls to find out the information on the spot.”

The student also noted that her adviser set her on the right course toward acceptance into a bachelor’s program, which she said would not have happened otherwise.

“I will be forever grateful to Mrs. Erdman for this opportunity!”

Our other honoree likewise goes the extra mile in his responsiveness to student needs.

“I have heard most students refer to him as the major’s adviser because he routinely answers advising questions for students that he’s not even assigned to,” his nominator wrote. “Considering he teaches and is the head of our department, I don’t expect him to have time available … but he always comes through.”

And for anyone – faculty or staff – who doubts that his or her interactions with students don’t make a difference, please file away this observation for future reference: “I personally felt like I wouldn’t be able to continue on in this program,” Rick’s student explained. “I had felt hopelessly lost before he intervened to guide me toward my objective. I honestly don’t believe I would be continuing on here next semester if it wasn’t for Mr. Calvert.”

Please help me congratulate Mary Erdman and Richard Calvert, our 2015-16 honorees in academic advising – and a reminder to all of the differences we can make with an encouraging word.

Distinguished Staff Awards
We move on now to our Distinguished Staff Awards, which pay tribute to our APT (Administrative, Professional and Technical), Classified, Service and part-time staff.

Roxanna J. Walker
Roxanna J. Walker

This year’s distinguished APT staff member is Roxanna J. Walker, employment/applicant system specialist in the Human Resources Office – a somewhat dry title for someone who is characterized as “one of the most helpful people I have had the pleasure of working with.”

“I have come to rely heavily on Roxy because she always knows the answer; she knows HR policies and procedures so well that she rarely has to research an answer,” said a nominator, responsible for one of the countless phone calls that our honoree fields each day. “Although I feel embarrassed about having to ask so many questions, I never feel that Roxy is judging me. She does not talk down to me or sound frustrated, even when I have to ask the same question more than once or need additional explanations. Her answers are positive, and her demeanor is encouraging.”

“Her approachability, commitment to high-quality work, ability to work both with others and independently, and her general good nature make her an invaluable asset to our team,” another colleague added. “She is simply a quality human being, and Penn College is a better place because of the contributions she makes.”

Please join me in congratulating Roxy Walker, a true “go-to” person in an office where a knowledgeable navigator is key…and this year’s APT winner.

Lezli A. Zeafla
Lezli A. Zeafla

Our Classified honoree this year is Lezli A. Zeafla, secretary to the dean of academic services/College Transitions, an integral first point-of-contact for newly enrolling students and their families.

“Lezli has provided counsel to students and parents who have concerns about placement test results or are just nervous about what’s next in the process,” one of her nominators wrote. “It’s not unusual for a student or parent to keep her contact information and check in with her during the matriculation process. She often has visitors during Connections who stop by to introduce themselves in person and to say ‘Thanks.’”

“Her infectious laugh is great to hear in our hallway and brings a smile to everyone,” added another colleague. “She is extremely organized and, quite frankly, I couldn’t stay afloat at times without her as part of my team. She values a true team effort and always will try fill in the gaps when others cannot.”

Please join me in congratulating Lezli Zeafla, a friendly front-line face for our most important audience – our students.

Michael L. Bremigen
Michael L. Bremigen

Our distinguished Service staff member this year is Michael L. Bremigen – a General Services horticulture technician who, in addition to keeping this campus green and glorious, coordinates the work required to maintain our athletic and intramural fields.

“Mike and I have had the opportunity to work with the student population a lot, and he always finds ways to relate and help out in any way he can,” one of his co-workers said. “I am sure if you find any of the professors we have worked with over the years, they will all say, ‘Mike helped make the job run smooth.’ I cannot remember a day when Mike was not smiling and did not say, ‘I love my job!’”

On the lighter side, co-workers say Mike is always quick with a joke or comment no matter the situation… the one who keeps the group laughing while enjoying the work being done.

“When sent off to retrieve an item needed to complete a job, no matter where on campus, he not only gets the item, but always comes back with a snack,” a colleague added. “I think he hides them on campus, just like the squirrels hide nuts!”

We’re not hiding anything today, certainly not our congratulations to Mike Bremigen.

Sara B. Bernier
Sara B. Bernier

Our distinguished part-time employee this year is Dining Services worker Sara B. Bernier, one of our highly visible cashiers in the Keystone Dining Room.

“She is very helpful and friendly to the students, faculty and staff that come through her line,” a colleague noted. “She is very popular with our students and many stop by just to see her. She is very approachable and shows genuine concern as she asks how their day is going. Last fall, she was even invited by some of the college baseball team members to come and watch them get their medals at a Crosscutters game. That, in itself, shows how much respect the student body has for Sara.”

It’s said that she is so popular with students that, when they graduate, they bring HER flowers and cards. A hospitality student even went so far as to bake a special cake for Sara’s birthday.

In addition to caring about KDR patrons, she has a keen interest in the efficiency and accuracy of the dining unit’s operations.

“She’s proposed solutions to problems we didn’t even know existed until she noticed them,” a co-worker said. “Sara is not frightened of change, rather embracing it and adapting to it.”

Please help me congratulate Sara Bernier, our Mom-away-from-home for many of the students.

And let’s have one more round of applause for our 2016 distinguished staff and part-time faculty, our honorees for excellence in advising, and our retirees and Quarter Century Club inductees.

Through their daily contributions, they have inspired us all to be more caring … more productive … and more vital members of this priceless Penn College community.

It is difficult to believe this academic year has passed.

We have faced our challenges and look to future opportunities. Our enrollment was not what we wanted this past year, but we have worked hard and there are positive signs for this coming fall.

It is important that everyone in the room realize that recruiting is a global responsibility. Not admissions, marketing or school administrators, but all of us – and most especially faculty – play one of the key roles in the process.

Prospective students love talking to content experts, those who know the field; you will be their teachers and mentors – you make a difference. All of us play a part and, without all of us working together, we cannot achieve our goals.

If you are unsure how to participate, contact your supervisor and we can assist you.

Summer brings much for us to do on campus: Connections, Summer Camps, renovation of the Dental Hygiene Clinic, expansion of the welding lab, and perhaps the completion of the LEC patio (but we shall see).

The campus will be busy and is looking beautiful. Thank you in advance for all who work hard to make our daily home an inviting and beautiful place to work.

During the first weekend in June, the college will host the Antique Automobile Club of America Grand National Meet and Car Show.

This is an exciting event with over 600 cars already registered and thousands of participants and spectators expected to attend. Some visitors to campus will be spending the weekend in the Rose Street Commons residence halls and taking part in various activities around campus.

On Saturday, June 4, the car show will be located on the mall area and open to the public from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Spectators are asked to park in the lots located by the ACC and walk down the mall to view the cars on display. Traffic will be very heavy on campus, so please park in the ACC lots if you are coming to campus that day.

The Susquehannock Region AACA would like to invite the college community to the keynote address on Friday, June 3, from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Field House.

The speaker is Lyn St. James, a seven-time Indianapolis 500 competitor, 1992 Rookie of the Year and named one of the “Top 100 Female Athletes of the Century” by Sports Illustrated.

A portal announcement will be posted soon inviting you to attend the presentation and an RSVP to College Events will be required.

This is an historic event for us and sure to be national exposure for the college and its programs.

The Penn College Fund Employee Campaign launched last month.

Those of you who have given in the past received information in your mailboxes about how you can continue to support the area of Penn College that you are passionate about. Hundreds of you have already renewed or increased your gift, and, for that, I thank you.

If you have not yet been part of this campaign, you will receive another e-mail from Valerie Fessler this afternoon about how you can join me and the 440 current employee donors in making a difference for our students. Your generosity toward Penn College students – not only through your unselfish support of The Penn College Fund, but also in your everyday commitment as teachers, mentors, coaches, leaders and volunteers – is what makes Penn College great.

Thank you for your continued support of this great place.

The Doyle Colloquia Series continues in the coming year. Presentations from our colleagues are still being selected.

Our invited guest speaker for the fall is Gary Sojka, president emeritus of Bucknell University, who will speak on issues related to sustainability of global food sources, particularly with regard to the world’s rapidly expanding population. His presentation will be on Oct. 4.

On Feb. 7, Robert McCauley will speak on the increasing use of visual images in communication and the potential negative consequences that result.

McCauley is the William Rand Kenan Jr. University Professor at Emory University and the founding Director of the Center for Mind, Brain and Culture there. He has written or co-written several books, including “Why Religion is Natural and Science is Not.”

McCauley’s research examines the cognitive foundations of science, technology and religion.

Please make plans to attend these and other Colloquia presentations and encourage your students to do so, as well. You have plenty of time now to plan to incorporate these excellent lectures into your work and assignments. This exposure is an ideal opportunity to supplement your classroom and or laboratory work.

Campus security is constantly on my mind and on the minds of many. I am proud of our Police Department, which regularly leads us in tabletop exercises and drills to prepare for the unthinkable.

This spring, we did such an exercise on a larger scale and involved the local FBI, county, neighboring police departments, Susquehanna Health and many others.

The result was excellent. All came away learning, fine-tuning and confident we have the plans and resources should that need arise.

One addition you will find in the fall is the return of regular fire drills for the entire campus. Residence Life conducts the fire drills for residential students, but, for me, that is not enough.

Expect regular unannounced fire drills in all facilities beginning this fall.

If you have watched popular media over the last several months, you may have seen stories related to food insecurity in college students.  Food insecurity is defined as living without a reliable access to enough affordable, nutritious food to support oneself and/or family.   In a survey of our own off-campus and commuter students this spring, we learned that 59% self-identified as having gone without food or skipped a meal because they didn’t have the money or resources to eat.

These results were shocking.  Students told us they had to choose between paying utility bills and eating.   Some told us they didn’t qualify for food assistance programs.  What surprised us the most was the number of veterans who responded to the survey stating that they were receiving assistance but it wasn’t enough for them to provide all the needed meals for themselves and family members.

Because of this information, Dining Services approached me with an initiative to open a “food pantry” on campus to provide supplemental food to our students with food insecurities and provide help to these students in need.

The “Penn College Cupboard” concept was approved and will begin operations in the Fall of 2016.  It will be located in the Bush Campus Center in the back of CC Commons and will be open Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  It will be staffed by employees in Dining Services and by volunteers from student organizations.  It will offer canned and nonperishable goods to students who register for the service.

Through a partnership with the Central PA Foodbank, we will purchase donated food at a minimal fee.   We expect to supplement this purchased food with student food drives and donations received from the campus community.   If you are interested in donating monetarily to the Penn College Cupboard, please contact the Penn College Foundation.

This is yet another way the College is seeking out opportunities to assist and retain our students.  If you encounter a student who is experiencing food insecurity, please refer them to the Penn College Cupboard.

As we look to next year, we have some changes – but that is the natural course of life.

David Kay has made the decision to retire. David will be with us full time until December. His contributions to the college have been many; he is a valuable member of the college community and we are fortunate to have time for transition.

And beginning in January of 2017, David will work with me part time, moving up to the third floor to do some yet-to-be-determined special projects.

I expect by the next time we meet in this room to be in a position to announce our plans for Human Resources and The College Store.

A dynasty will come to an end in December 2017. Mike Cunningham has announced his retirement effective then. For more than 50 years, there has been a Cunningham at Penn College.

Mike, too, has given us time to do a search and transition. We expect a 12-month overlap between Mike and his replacement.

This weekend marks the end of our academic year, and we move into summer. I wish you all some time to rest and rejuvenate.

AND we have much to do: Middle States, Core curriculum, assessment, planning for the fall, all in addition to the summer activities I mentioned earlier.

Thank you for your commitment to our students and to making Penn College a national leader in applied technology education.

I attended an alumni event for my high school a week ago. As I was leaving, a woman stopped me and asked me a question: “Do you know a 10-word quote that uses only two letter words?” I thought for a minute and said, “No.”

“If it is to be, it is up to me.” Interesting quote from William H. Johnsen.

That applies to life every day.

Those of you attending commencement this weekend may hear it again. What is even more special is she is 91 years old and volunteers every day. Motivation for all of us.

Have a great summer.

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