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President Honors Exemplary Employees, Recaps ‘Incredible Year’

Before closing out the Spring 2018 semester at Penn College with a summary of year-to-date accomplishments, encouraging her audience to take “time to recharge, explore new ideas and new perspectives” over the summer, President Davie Jane Gilmour presided over the morning’s Employee Recognition ceremonies. “We have had an incredible year. Our students have made us proud through their work in the classroom and laboratories; in their cocurricular activities and on the athletic field. Some have distinguished themselves by volunteering in the community and across campus,” she said. “The same applies to faculty and staff. You should feel pride, amazement and excitement to see what our colleagues have accomplished.”

The following is drawn from President Gilmour’s remarks at a May 10 all-college meeting in the Klump Academic Center Auditorium:

Good morning.

It is a hectic time, for sure, with a workload that threatens daily to go from simmer to full-boil, but one that we all – somehow, some way – manage with success, skill and Penn College Pride in knowing we do our best for our students and one another.

As we prepare for Friday and Saturday’s commencement exercises, in which we will honor our dedicated faculty and the graduates who will drive off … emboldened by knowledge and inspiration … we pause today to applaud the many loyal employees who are equally important to their successes – and to everyone enrolled here.

Whether in high-profile positions on the academic front lines or in integral behind-the-scenes tasks that make us all look good, we are surrounded by people who treat their everyday responsibilities with extraordinary dedication – people of purpose whom we salute today.

Let’s begin with our 2017-18 retirees.

As we give a farewell wave to our graduates this weekend, we know that goodbyes are often temporary … and certainly necessary if we are to say “Hello” again. That certainly applies to this year’s list of retirees, as well.

This academic year brings the departure of 38 faculty/staff colleagues with nearly 880 years’ of service among them. Nineteen have been with the college for more than 25 years, nine of them for more than 30. And Richard Sahn, retiring as a psychology/sociology instructor, will leave in August after nearly 43 years of teaching.

That’s a lot of wisdom … a lot of experience … and a whole lot of institutional memory. They have seen phenomenal change, and, in many cases, have helped to make those changes happen. Everyone from students to co-workers to campus visitors have benefited from their presence, and – while my wish is that their happiest days are yet to come – I hope they leave with plentiful smiles, stories and memories of the many lives they’ve touched.

Many of the year's retirees attended a Thursday morning reception ...
Many of the year’s retirees attended a Thursday morning reception …

I ask all of the retirees here today to join me as I read their names … and to stay on stage until we can recognize the entire group.

Leslie J. Baier
James E. Bies
Alan W. Buck
Donald J. Caldwell
Lisa J. Caputo
Durbin L. Chesnut III
Donna M. Colley
Dennis L. Correll
Marlin R. Cromley
Mike M. Cunningham
Lisa M. Dincher
Adelle M. Dotzel
Wanda A. Gardner
Terry A. Girdon
Susan A. Hagemeyer
Edgar A. Hollingsworth
Sandra L. Hollingsworth
Brian D. Hopple
Rebecca A. Horn
Dale E. Jaenke
Charles A. Kern
Dale J. Kissinger Jr.
Sandra Lakey
Mary Ann R. Lampman
Monica J. Lanczak
Gerri F. Luke
John G. Marshalek
Gary E. McQuay
Ronald Z. Miller
Randy L. Monroe
Mark D. Noe
David A. Probst
Kathryn M. Reed
Andrew M. Richardson
Richard Sahn
Joan E. Schell
Calvetta A. Walker
Jeffrey B. Weaver

Let’s acknowledge our 2017-18 retirees together.

30- and 35-Year Service Pins
While we have always recognized the new members of our Quarter Century Club – as we will again here shortly – we thought it appropriate, as well, to honor those employees who have reached the 30- and 35-year milestones in their service to Penn College.

Receiving their 30-year service pins this year are:
John Good
William Kilcoyne
Brenda Kline
John Marshalek
Andrea Mull
Karen Stugart

Receiving their 35-year service pins this year are:
Ann Marie Furdock
Linda Huffman

Please join me in recognizing these employees for their decades of service to Penn College.

... along with the latest inductees of the college's Quarter Century Club.
… along with the latest inductees of the college’s Quarter Century Club.

Quarter Century Club
Malcolm Forbes once said that, “Diamonds are nothing more than chunks of coal that stuck to their jobs.” We are blessed to have a houseful of diamonds today: the latest inductees into our Quarter-Century Club. They could’ve taken their gifts anywhere, but they chose to share them here . . . and we’re a more vibrant institution thanks to their consistency and contributions.

It has become a custom, of sorts – not quite as anticipated as commencement or the Finals Week pancakes at Midnight Breakfast – that I take you down Memory Lane to what was happening 25 years ago. At the risk of painfully affirming that none of us is getting any younger, who am I to break with tradition?

So let’s take a brief trip back to 1993:

  • Intel introduced the Pentium processor
  • We followed the dramatic events outside Waco, Texas
  • The first Beanie Babies were launched onto the marketplace
  • The Rockies and Marlins joined baseball’s National League
  • Many of us made our first visit to “Jurassic Park”
  • Construction began on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland
  • The Dow closed above 3,600 for the first time
  • Final episodes of “Cheers” and “Late Night With David Letterman” aired on NBC
  • Tuition at Harvard was $23,000 a year
  • The Postal Service put Elvis on a stamp
  • And Prince changed his name to a symbol

Closer to home, the Bush Campus Center was dedicated, our hospitality students traveled to the Kentucky Derby for the first time, the Community Arts Center was opened and we awarded our first bachelor’s degree – to John Upcraft, now a member of our faculty and peerless mentor to our SAE Baja team.

And these 12 employees joined the Penn College community:

From APT
Margaret A. Barbour
Marianne E. DePasqua
Brett A. Reasner
Patricia M. Scheib
Cletus G. Waldman

From Faculty
Ronald A. Garner
Nancy A. Grausam
William Ma
David A. Probst

And from Service
Patrick M. Breen
Brian D. Hopple
Chester E. Rogers

Please welcome this year’s inductees to the Quarter Century Club.

Part-Time Teaching Excellence Award
It is now my privilege to present a Part-Time Teaching Excellence Award to a member of our adjunct faculty.

This year’s honor goes to Jillian T. Scanlon in early childhood education, who, like many of her predecessors whose names are engraved on the award plaque, approach their part-time assignments with full-time energy.

“Jillian is one of the most proactive instructors I’ve ever worked with,” her nominator wrote. “She never hesitates to reach out if she has a question about how to handle a student issue, or wants feedback about a new instructional tool or assessment instrument. Jillian always has a positive, friendly and constructive demeanor. She has a great sense of humor and utilizes it in the classroom to great effect.”

The comprehensive comments – which spotlight our honoree’s approachability, communication skills and working knowledge of trends in her field – also reflect a co-worker whose assessment often turns inward.

“I’m impressed by Jillian’s ability to know her own limitations and to reach out for help when she’s feeling overwhelmed. Balancing the demands of her full-time job and teaching at the college is not easy, but she handles it admirably; she dedicates so much time and effort to her student’s success I often forget she has a full-time job. She also not only accepts constructive criticism, she actively seeks it.”

Please join me in congratulating Jillian T. Scanlon, this year’s representative of excellence in part-time teaching.

Excellence in Academic Advising
We now salute two more co-workers who leave their mark in measurable ways, shepherding students along the occasionally potholed road to graduation.

This year’s recipients of Excellence in Academic Advising Awards are Tammy M. Rich, assistant professor of business administration, management and event management, and Bambi A. Hawkins, learning laboratory coordinator in our paramedic program.

“Tammy goes above and beyond to make sure she is prepared to advise her advisees,” a colleague wrote. “She is extremely organized, and expects her students to be ready for their meeting. During her advisement sessions, it is not just about scheduling classes, she discusses what the student wants to do for their career, and helps direct them through their courses.”

One of those advisees clearly agrees: “She is professional and always looking out for my best interests. Always makes time and explains things so I completely understand. Does not rush through information. Tammy recommended taking my electives so I can achieve my ultimate goal of dual bachelor’s degrees in business management and accounting.”

Her co-recipient’s experience as a volleyball coach is evident in her success as a mentor to her students.

“Bambi is very effective and approachable as an adviser because she has that motivating attitude that just inspires everyone she comes in contact with to reach higher and achieve more than they ever thought possible.”

High praise, indeed … but not quite as moving as these words from a student:

“Bambi Hawkins has personally taught me a great deal about myself in the short time we have known each other. She has encouraged me like no other, especially when I admitted some of my very secret fears regarding my career. She has stepped up, along with our program director, and helped me find a solution to a lack of financial aid that would have halted my career before my program really started. I owe her my career.”

Please join me in recognizing Tammy Rich and Bambi Hawkins as praiseworthy examples of our dedicated academic advisers.

Distinguished Staff Awards
Let’s now focus on our Distinguished Staff Awards, which recognize our APT (Administrative, Professional and Technical), Classified, Service and part-time staff.

Kay E. Dunkleberger
Kay E. Dunkleberger

This year’s distinguished APT staff member is Kay E. Dunkleberger, a 33-year employee who has made a measurable impact both as director of disability services and in her former service to the Admissions Office.

It’s difficult to distill Kay’s contributions into a brief narrative, as evidenced by the voluminous documentation in support of her nomination, because her steady hand touches so many vital areas fulfilling our mission. Among the highlights of her influence is one of the more recent initiatives: leading the college’s Accessibility Committee to ensure that our students – ALL students – get the full benefit of a Penn College education.

“She has been a patient listener and supporter of many ideas brought to the committee, which we have seen implemented on campus,” a nominator wrote. “As an institution, we continue to make significant headway on accessibility issues, which would not be possible without Kay’s leadership and dedication. I admire her sustained efforts to strive continually for access for students who have often been marginalized in their other academic pursuits.”

Others chimed in with a far-reaching catalog of adjectives to describe Kay: Courageous, insightful, selfless, passionate, tireless and collaborative, among them. She has established connections across campus and throughout the community – both personal and professional, with humility and humor – and all of them employed in the service of our students.

I would be remiss if I did not mention another contribution spotlighted by a friend and co-worker: her lead role in building the Chester D. Schuman Scholarship, which honors our late admissions director and golf coach, and is now well past endowment. The fund has generated over $6,200 in awards to help deserving students reach their educational goals, and Kay’s participation in that success cannot be discounted.

Please join me in congratulating this year’s APT award-winner: Kay Dunkleberger, who, in the spirit of teamwork, arrives early and stays late to make sure that situations – from building bridges to knocking down barriers – are handled with respect and dignity.

Mary D. Gregory
Mary D. Gregory

Our Classified honoree this year is Mary D. Gregory, access services assistant at Madigan Library, whose value to the college can be summed up in four words from a fellow employee: “Can we clone her?”

Whether guiding befuddled students or finding missing books, Mary has somewhat of a magical reputation. Co-workers say they’re in awe of her powers, and in her trademark persistence.

A nominator shared this example: “A student was looking to see if a particular software program was available in the library computer labs. When it was not found under the name the student was remembering, the student said it didn’t matter and was ready to give up. Mary’s response? “Why do you say that? Of course, it matters!”

She has amassed extensive knowledge and experience in her 14 years on campus, and – with a “no drama, no fuss” demeanor throughout each day – is not stingy about sharing what she’s learned.

So please congratulate Mary Gregory, whose trademark response to a new challenge – “If you think I can do it, I’ll do it!” – exemplifies the professional, courteous and responsible way in which she delivers on any task assigned to her.

Robert C. Karschner Jr.
Robert C. Karschner Jr.

Our distinguished Service staff member this year is Robert C. Karschner Jr. – master mechanic for the General Services motorpool, who consistently delivers quality service on the 123 vehicles in the Penn College fleet.

This 19-year employee was characterized by his nominators as “a naturally upbeat person with a positive, cheerful attitude,” and singled out for tasks not routinely in his wheelhouse: safety training for employee drivers of larger passenger vans, for example, or providing auto-shop opportunities to help regional special-needs students attains the skills needed in a working environment.

“By his actions, he shows me that I can depend on him, that he keeps his commitments, whether this is a 4 a.m. start time for snow removal or getting an Admissions van ready for the road,” a past award recipient wrote. “There is a saying that goes like this: ‘Give a busy individual more work, as it is likely to be done efficiently.’ Those who show initiative – who hunt for ways to solve problems, to improve things and to be more efficient – are most likely to be given more responsibility. Even an award.”

Please join me in congratulating Robert Karschner Jr., endlessly committed to keeping vehicles and colleagues alike safe and in good working order.

Let’s acknowledge once more our 2018 distinguished staff and part-time faculty, our honorees for excellence in advising, and our newest retirees and Quarter Century Club inductees.

The recognition ceremonies this morning are a clear indication of how people make the difference at Penn College.

We have had an incredible year. Our students have made us proud through their work in the classroom and laboratories; in their cocurricular activities and on the athletic field. Some have distinguished themselves by volunteering in the community and across campus.

The same applies to faculty and staff. If you take time to read PCToday each day, you should feel pride, amazement and excitement to see what our colleagues have accomplished.

I recently accumulated a list of accomplishments for the year and am struck by the depth and breadth of the work done.

Our year was not without challenges – the ATHS flood prior to school starting, the mini-flood in the Academic Center, half-level – and just last Friday, the ceiling dropped in the Mountain Laurel Room of the Professional Development Center. A 30-foot light standard falling in the parking lot, directly into the grass island, not scratching a single vehicle. Key, for all of these: First, no one was hurt. Second, no one complained; everyone came together to make it work. Yes, there were some inconveniences, but students came first, and we figured it out. That is the Penn College way – getting it done.

As we look to the coming academic year, there is more to do. Change in procedures and processes, a new Strategic Plan to guide our work, and new employees needing our support and direction as we welcome them to the Penn College family.

Some things to look forward to for the 2018-19 academic year:

As we celebrate Employee Recognition Week, this is the perfect time to recognize employee giving on campus. Over the past year, employees have made commitments totaling $182,125 in support of our students as they pursue “degrees that work.” This collective support is something we should all celebrate.

Two weeks ago, you received a message from me highlighting how gifts are at work on our campus. For those of you who have renewed your support through the 2018-19 Employee Campaign, I thank you.

For those of you still considering, I encourage you to join me by investing in the tomorrow makers of our great country. Whether your passion lies with scholarships, an academic program, athletics or unrestricted support, your gifts empower graduates for great success. Please contact the Office of Institutional Advancement to discuss your giving options.

The inaugural Penn College Apprenticeship Summit was held on May 3. More than 120 people from 66 companies were present to learn about opportunities for building apprenticeship programs into their workforce strategies. The mechatronics apprenticeship program, with training delivered by Workforce Development & Continuing Education, serves as a pathway for entry into the A.A.S. Mechatronics Program. Apprentices may receive 20 credits toward the degree.

Penn College is uniquely positioned to respond to the apprenticeship training needs of companies and has attracted several grants, including one announced last week: a $576,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

I announced at the summit, that to better serve the needs of employers, we would be opening the Apprenticeship Center at Penn College, which will be located in the Center for Business & Workforce Development. The subject of apprenticeships is the topic for all faculty following the convocation message in August. You can watch for more information about this important session.

Last fall, we launched a fundraising project to raise $150,000 to build a makerspace on our campus. Due to an overwhelming response of nearly $195,000 in commitments, construction is now underway in the Carl Building Technologies Center. This space, designed by Penn College students, will provide the environment – and the essential tools – for students, faculty and staff to collaborate on innovative projects in a dynamic learning setting. We look forward to dedicating the space as “The Dr. Welch Workshop: A Makerspace at Penn College” in August. Faculty, you can begin planning how you and your classes could use this space beginning next fall.

I am very pleased to announce the speakers for the 2018-19 Technology & Society Colloquia Series.

On Nov. 8, Penn College – in partnership with the local Notre Dame University alumni chapter – will present Dr. John Deak, associate professor of history at Notre Dame. Deak’s address, coming during the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, will focus on the technological and societal outcomes of the war. Deak’s lecture is in conjunction with the Notre Dame University Hesburgh Lecture Series.

In March, the college welcomes Professor Sophia Brueckner of the University of Michigan. Professor Brueckner is both an engineer and artist. A former software engineer with Google, Brueckner’s teaching focuses on the awareness of technology’s controlling effects and encourages the ethical and thoughtful design of new technologies.

While spring was short, summer is quickly upon us. I hope each of you takes time to recharge, explore new ideas and new perspectives. Enjoy each day and, in particular, care about the little things.

I struggled to find the right quote for today. Did I want to motivate, challenge, inspire or share a new idea? Twenty minutes of reading, leafing through papers, and nothing felt right.

So today’s quote is my own. You matter – 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.

Have a great summer.

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