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Homecoming Week Invites Alumni Storytelling

Alumni of Pennsylvania College of Technology and its forerunners, Williamsport Area Community College and Williamsport Technical Institute, are returning for a campus homecoming this weekend and sharing their stories as the college counts down to a milestone anniversary.

A 2014 centennial will mark the 100th anniversary of adult-education classes on the site of its campus in Williamsport. The first classes were offered in the former Williamsport High School, which now serves as Penn College’s Klump Academic Center.

On the weekend of Oct. 7-9, the college will host Homecoming 2011, featuring the theme “Were You There?” The theme presents an invitation for alumni to share stories of their college experiences in person and online.

A website will be launched during this homecoming week to share alumni recollections and stories. The first alumnus sharing his story on the website is Frederick T. Gilmour. The artist, a retired college administrator and faculty member, and husband of Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour, was also a member of the first graduating class of W.A.C.C and the creator of college symbols including the official seal and mace.

“Watching the college grow and evolve from a relatively small, simply outfitted, hands-on educational facility, operating out of borrowed buildings, using run-down facilities and equipment, into what it is today makes me very proud,” Gilmour shares in his online recollections. (The full text of Gilmour’s recollections is published online .)

Alumni are encouraged to visit the website to reconnect with the past and to submit their own stories. The website’s invitation proclaims: “Your story may be a few sentences or it may fill volumes. Either way, you have a story to share and we want to hear it!”

The college began sharing its history in 2009, during a Gallery at Penn College exhibition of photos and artifacts from its nearly 100-year history. A book based on the exhibit, titled “Were You There?: The Evolution of a College Campus,” may be purchased through The College Store, at Otto’s bookstore downtown and online . Published in 2010, the book recently earned a merit award in the 26th Annual Educational Advertising Awards sponsored by Higher Education Marketing Report.

A second book, focused on the stories of the institution’s leaders throughout its history, will be released in time for Homecoming 2012, according to Elaine J. Lambert, director of college information and community relations, and a W.A.C.C. graduate. Lambert and Penn College alumni, Phillip C. Warner, Judy A. Fink and Sarah K. Patterson, are among the college employees involved in the design and development of the centennial publications and website.

“As alumni, we feel it is a special privilege to be part of the institution during this time,” Lambert said. “We enjoy telling the story of how one institution has supported the American dream for many generations. Each of our alumni plays an important role in this story. We hope many will share their recollections with us in person and online.”

The sharing will begin with homecoming activities this weekend that include a reunion of former students of the technical institute (1941-65). While enjoying brunch in Le Jeune Chef Restaurant, the W.T.I. alumni will have the opportunity to hear a historical presentation by Patricia A. Scott, Penn College archivist, and Daniel J. Doyle, who retired after many years as a history professor at W.A.C.C. and Penn College.

Scott is a W.A.C.C. graduate who is performing a pivotal role in collecting objects and information that capture the institution’s history. Doyle is continuing an oral-history project that he began as a faculty member, interviewing individuals who played key roles in the development of the institution.

Homecoming 2011 also will feature the return to campus of alumni from the Construction Management program, which celebrates a 20th anniversary this year. It was one of the first Bachelor of Science degree programs established after the college affiliated with The Pennsylvania State University in 1989.

The public is invited to an opening reception for an exhibition of artwork created by alumni; the reception will be held Friday, Oct. 7, from 6-8 p.m. in The Gallery at Penn College, located in the Madigan Library. The juried exhibition, “Kaleidoscope,” featuring original works in all media by alumni of Penn College, W.A.C.C. and W.T.I., will run through Nov. 6. On Sunday, Oct. 9, beginning at 1:30 p.m., in the gallery, alumnus Alfonse Ciaccio will perform an afternoon of classical guitar music as visitors enjoy the exhibition.

Athletic and outdoor events planned for the weekend include an alumni volleyball game on Thursday, Oct. 6; a golf outing on Saturday, Oct. 8, at Three Ponds Golf Course near Knoebels Amusement Resort; and an alumni soccer match on Saturday at 10 a.m.. A 5K run/walk to raise funds for a School of Health Sciences scholarship fund will be held on campus at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Details of all homecoming events are available online or by calling Alumni Relations at 570-326-3761, ext. 7380, or toll-free 1-877-PCT-ALUM.

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