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Guided by Student Success, President Recaps ‘Quite a Year’

(The following is drawn from remarks by Davie Jane Gilmour, Pennsylvania College of Technology president, during a May 12 all-college meeting to close the Spring 2005 semester.)

Good morning. As you can see from the ” Penn College & You” episode showing as you entered the auditorium, our construction students did an excellent job at the National Home Builders show in Orlando , Fla.

Yes, this is the second year in a row for their first-place finish and the four-year students placed 10th this year.

At this meeting, I almost always take time to reflect on what we have accomplished for the year and, perhaps, take a glimpse at what the future holds. We have had quite a year: The Academic Center came to life really a renewed life with new purposes and new structure, but the charm and history preserved.

I hope you have taken the time to explore the building it is really remarkable what has been done and take time to stop and see Erich Frank. Erich [director of the college’s paramedic program] is back from Iraq and we are so very grateful. Erich, you were missed.

We purchased the BiLo grocery store. Currently, we are designing the facility to house Workforce Development and Continuing Education, the Plastics Manufacturing Center and plastics credit programs.

As you walk down Third Street and look to the north, it makes such sense to have that building be part of campus. However, I am going to need your help in making that a reality.

You may have heard about the College Town initiative with the Chamber of Commerce, Lycoming College , Penn College and Newport Business Institute all working together to increase the recognition of what the colleges do for our community and to increase the activities and opportunities for students. We are fortunate to have more than 7,000 college students in this community and it is time we act like a college town.

I want to congratulate Dan Little, who recently was honored by City Council for his work on the College Town Web site.

Now for that help I said I would need . . .

The college is under constant pressure to do more for the city. We have a written agreement to provide a police car per year, and tuition benefits (both credit and noncredit), among other things.

But city officials recently have gone on record indicating that it is not enough.

We have been directly told that, when we ask for a zoning change to allow us to use BiLo, we will be told our written agreement is not enough and we need to do more. Doing more means giving more money to the city. When you consider 18 percent of our budget comes from the state and 82 percent all other money comes from student tuition, we know where the “more” has to come from. And that is a problem.

We are working carefully with city officials on this matter, but there will come a time when we will ask for your help. Join us in City Hall at a City Council meeting to demonstrate your support for the college as we move to utilize this currently vacant facility.

I remain confident that an amicable resolution is possible, but I also have come to realize that we need to take a very obvious position and demonstrate our commitment to the community and the college.

Many people have worked extraordinarily hard this year to accomplish a great deal.

We are moving ahead with our strategic vision; we have accomplished our annual institutional initiatives and met the challenges at hand.

We unveiled a donor wall in the Student and Administrative Services Center , recognizing ongoing donor gifts since 1982. I would like to publicly recognize Tom Linn and Charles Stopper; they did an incredible job carefully installing this one-of-a-kind, amazing wall.

I have a presentation to make today. There is one glass tile that needs to be added: “Penn College Employees.” You have been significant contributors to the college and, since 1982, have contributed over $433,040 to the Annual Fund, resulting in this tile being placed in the Visionary Society, recognizing contributions between $100,000 and $499,999.

Thank you for your commitment and your ongoing generosity.

I need to follow that thank-you with a request: We continue the Madigan Library Campaign. To date, we have raised $912,365 86 employees have contributed $139,420.

I need to ask for your help. If you have not yet given or could evaluate your gift and give more it would mean the world to us.

Our Kresge application has been delayed until August.

We were pleased to receive $125,000 from the First Community Foundation of Pennsylvania, but had hoped for a much larger gift. We need to be halfway to our goal to approach the Kresge Foundation.

The Madigan Library offers a legacy for all time. Remember, you can pledge over a five-year period and payroll deduction is available. Feel free to contact the Institutional Advancement Office for more information, another brochure or to sit down and review giving options.

You have made a difference and I know you will continue to do so. We are determined to meet our goal more than ever and will focus a great deal of our time this summer on the campaign.

Thank you for considering the Madigan Library. It will be a dream come true that will mark the future of this institution for all time.

This is when I would normally segue into more highlights of our accomplishments of the year. In preparing my remarks, I realized that our success is based upon the success of our students. After all, they are the heart of our mission and the reason we each are part of Penn College.

You may be very familiar with the student accomplishments of the year, but I suspect at least some of you are not. I thought it fitting we celebrate our success through that of our students.

Whether academic recognition, co-curricular, student activities or athletics, without a doubt, Penn College students made their mark this year and we can be very proud.

  • Four students attending the Phi Beta Lambda National Leadership Conference in Denver placed in the Top 10 in their respective competition categories
  • An ISA Scholarship was awarded to a Penn College Electronics Engineering Technology student from the Instrumentation, Systems, and Automation Society. As one of the top two award recipients, our student was pictured in “In Tech” magazine, a global publication for the fields of automation and control. He was recognized at the ISA Annual Honors and Awards Banquet in Houston , andhe was among 70 applicants from the United States , Brazil , Canada , India and Russia .
  • Paramedic and physician assistant students volunteered their services at the Little League World Series in August
  • Two students in the floral design/interior plantscape major took top honors at the Pennsylvania Floral Industry Association’s Floral Expo in October: first and second place in the Student Design competition at the event, which was sponsored by PFIA and FTD
  • With his senior project, a Penn College student proved he could create an electronic process for bottling perfume that large companies, including French manufacturer Chanel, didn’t believe could be accomplished. Chad E. Wagner is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering Technology. He created a control device that will allow metal valves on the tops of perfume bottles to be squeezed closed or “crimped” while moving along a conveyor belt.
  • Our students played a large role in the production of the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra’s television commercial to promote the symphony’s October performance. The 59-second spot aired locally on 21 channels including CNN, TLC, Nickelodeon, MTV and ESPN. Thirteen students helped with its production. Many of the students who helped with the production were students in the college’s Digital Media Editing class, taught by Bruce E. Huffman, instructor of media arts/video production.
  • An article by a student was published in a recent issue of a national magazine for information technology professionals. Michael C. Badger, a technical and professional communication major from Northumberland, wrote “LinuxQuestions.Org: Help Is a Question Away,” which appeared in the December 2004 issue of LinuxWorld Magazine.
  • As you saw on the big screen today, a team of two-year construction majors grabbed a second consecutive first-place finish during competition at January’s National Association of Home Builders’ international convention in Orlando , Fla. Its four-year counterpart finished 10th in a strong 28-school field, and saw one of its members individually honored at the awards ceremony.
  • A heating, ventilation and air-conditioning student will represent the United States during the 2005 World Skills Competition to be held May 26-29 in Helsinki , Finland . Shawn A. Wasielewski of Easton, a freshman in the HVAC technology bachelor-degree major in the School of Construction and Design Technologies, won his spot on “Team USA” by beating out challengers from Kentucky, West Virginia and Nevada during February’s international trials in Orlando, Fla.
  • We had a student travel to Harrisburg in February to demonstrate a new program through which the college lends plastics equipment to high schools. Brad A. Piwowar, a senior in the college’s plastics and polymer engineering technology bachelor-degree major, manned a booth in the Capitol Rotunda as part of Career and Technical Education Week, an event sponsored by the state Department of Education that showcases the importance of career and technical education for Pennsylvania students.
  • Members of Penn College ‘s Phi Beta Lambda chapter will attend this summer’s national conference in Orlando , Fla. , on the basis of their April success at the state level. Awards included a first place in Web-site development and a first in business communications.
  • Three students brought home first-place medals in competition at April’s Pennsylvania SkillsUSA Conference in Lancaster , qualifying them to compete in the national SkillsUSA Championships in Kansas City , Mo. , in June
  • ADN nursing students competed at College Misercordia in the second-annual nursing student challenge that drew 11 colleges. The team correctly answered 95 percent of all questions.
  • “Sealant Saturday” in February allowed Dental Hygiene students to work with 136 children and present educational sessions for parents and children
  • Students in Free Enterprise at Penn College took second runner-up in overall competition and first place in the Entrepreneurship Competition at the regional level (monetary winnings) and are eligible to compete for prize money at the national level in Kansas City in June
  • At their recent participation in the second annual collegiate-level BattleBot Competition, 28 members of the Student Wildcats of Robotic Design (S.W.O.R.D.) received the “Outstanding Sportsmanship” award by popular vote of other competing teams. The team competed against colleges such as MIT and Cal Tech.
  • Penn College’s second Monster Hut Competition in April saw four teams of six students each constructing pavilions for Rose Street, College West, the Village and Campus View residence halls. They gave up their entire weekend for this event and did incredible work for the benefit of fellow students.
  • The Jeff Forker Award for Excellence in Training was presented to five HVAC baccalaureate students at the Air Conditioning Contractors of America and Indoor Air Expo 2005 Annual Conference in Austin , Texas . Penn College students have been invited to conduct a workshop at next year’s event in San Jose , Calif.

This was a record-setting year for Penn College athletics, as it was the first time ever that all 14 varsity sports teams made the playoffs for their respective league in the same year.

  • Five PCAA state championships: men’s cross country, women’s cross country, golf, bowling and men’s soccer
  • Five CCAC state championships (this is the Penn State Commonwealth Campuses Athletic Conference): men’s cross country, women’s cross country, golf, men’s soccer and women’s volleyball
  • An EPCC championship in men’s volleyball
  • Total championships = 11
  • We have the reigning male archery champion in the country, and our women’s compound archery team is ranked second nationally
  • Forty Penn College student athletes have been named to the CCAC Academic All-Conference Team. Each must have a 3.0 grade-point average or higher in the semester they played. Approximately 25 more students are expected to be added to the list when grades are released at the end of the spring semester.
  • Named “Coach of the Year” in their respective sports were Chet Schuman (golf), Andy Richardson (men’s soccer), Mike Paulhamus (cross country) and Bambi Hawkins (women’s volleyball)

Penn College was named 2004 “Sponsor of the Year” for outstanding support of Northeast Pennsylvania Blood Services program by the American Red Cross. Penn College students, faculty and staff combined efforts to earn distinction by making the second-highest number of blood donations of colleges/universities in the Northeast Pennsylvania region.

Student organizations participated in over 70 community-service events, such as blood drives, food drives, highway cleanups, charity walks and clothing drives. Members of our student organizations also could be spotted throughout the community in the following ways:

  • Members of the Multicultural Society served as tutors for children in the after-school program at The Campbell Street Family, Youth and Community Association
  • Eight members of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America built bookshelves that were donated to the YWCA to be used in the Liberty House

Throughout the 2004-05 academic year, Penn College student organizations participated in over 80 college-service programs that benefited the Penn College community through awareness campaigns, cleanups, participation in Career and Visitation Days; they also gave their time and talents to make structural improvements on campus.

The Student Government Association was busy suggesting and recommending changes all across campus:

  • Better lighting
  • Walkway improvements
  • More bicycle racks
  • Campus Center Internet Lounge
  • Campus Center Quiet Lounge/TV Lounge renovations
  • Working with Penn College Police to increase the awareness of appropriate crosswalk safety on West Third Street
  • New graduation diplomas were designed and will be distributed beginning Spring 2005
  • Extended hours were offered in several campus spaces for students to study, work on projects, etc. for finals
  • An online voting system was created and implemented for the Spring 2005 SGA Executive Board elections

I don’t know about you. I was amazed at the comprehensive list of what was accomplished, and let me thank those who provided me with the information. I also will tell you that I gave you an abbreviated list of what was collected. If our success is truly measured by the success of our students, we have had a great year.

It cannot go without comment: Behind each student achievement whether curricular, co-curricular, student activity or athletic event stood and worked many of you in this room.

It is because of your tireless dedication to our students that they have reached this level of success.

You have asked them to give more, expect more and give back. You are the reason they have tasted the gift of giving back, succeeding in national competitions, achieving recognition and personal reward.

I offer my sincere thanks for all you do to make a difference in the lives of our students.

The year flew by; we will be back together in August before you know it. I hope you take time for you and your respective families.

We cannot rest on our accomplishments of this year; there is more to be done and together we can face whatever the coming year brings.

Last year, I turned 50, and a dear friend gave me a book that I was rereading a few weeks ago after a particularly challenging day.

One quote stayed with me as I prepared for today. Now, the quote is by Vince Lombardi not that I am an athlete by any stretch but it makes sense and fits with the idea of our success being measured by that of our students.

Vince said, “The difference between a successful person and others is not the lack of strength, not the lack of knowledge, but, rather, the lack of will.”

Collectively, we have the will and determination to make Penn College a place that changes lives, and provides opportunity and success for those willing to make the commitment.

Our collective “will” will bring us together again in August. Enjoy the days of summer.

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