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President Urges Personal Commitment ‘Now’ and Tomorrow

(The following is drawn from remarks by Davie Jane Gilmour, Pennsylvania College of Technology president, during a May 15 all-college meeting to close the 2007-08 academic year.)

Marking her 10th year as Penn College president, Davie Jane Gilmour is surprised with a commemorative cake at Thursday's all-college meeting. In honor of the anniversary, the college's Board of Directors has commissioned artwork that will be placed on the third floor of the Student and Administrative Services Center when renovations are completed there. The art will be a custom piece designed by Gilmour's husband, Fred, (second from right) an alumnus and professor emeritus. 'Her modesty and integrity are matched by her dedication to Penn College,' said board Chairman Robert E. Dunham (at podium) in announcing the tribute. 'I know of no one more dedicated to teamwork, to shared vision and to sharing the credit, whenever credit is due.' Joining in the surprise was Gene Yaw, college solicitor.Good morning,

It is once again hard to believe that we have completed another academic year and we are about to say “Hello” to the summer months.

I am certain we have not had the time to process the loss of David London. I look up in the balcony today and expect to see him, wryly smiling and looking down at me. I suspect he is doing that today, but from a higher balcony. He will be missed.

It is fitting that we end each academic year by honoring students, faculty and staff who have distinguished themselves through their accomplishments. This year, during our three commencement ceremonies on Friday afternoon, Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon we will honor students and distinguished full-time faculty. Today, we honor staff and part-time faculty. We also recognize employees who have retired or are planning to retire before the end of this academic year, and we induct new members of our Quarter Century Club. They mark 25 years of service to the college.

We begin with our retirees: Edward Boal, Nancy Breauchy, Larry Emery, Shirley Frelin, Joan Groff, Peter Hellermann, Steven Hirsch, Paul Renninger, Irwin Siegel, Karen Tyler, James Williams and Karen Bodine.

We offer a fond and heartfelt farewell to all of you, with thanks on behalf of the countless students and employees whose lives you have touched.

Next, we recognize our inductees into the Quarter Century Club. Now, a lot was going on in our world 25 years ago: Apple Computers introduced the Apple Lisa, IBM released the IBM PC XT, Lotus 1-2-3 and the first release of Microsoft Word went onto the market, and the Nintendo Entertainment System went on sale in Japan. Japan also became home to the first overseas Disney theme park. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space and Pioneer 10 was the first man-made object to leave the solar system.

“Gandhi” was the Best Picture, “The Color Purple” earned the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and more than 125 million viewers tuned in for the final episode of TV’s “M*A*S*H.” McDonald’s introduced the McNugget, Swatch began selling watches, Wham-O got the license for a little beanbag called the Hackey Sack and the infamous De Lorean Motor Co. ceased production.

At the same time, these individuals were joining our college family:

From Administrative, Professional and Technical staff: William Martin, Jocelyn Thomas and Mike Stanzione

From Classified staff: Linda Cheyney and Karen Tyler

From Service staff: Linda Huffman and Ken Knaus

And from Faculty: Nancy Bowers, Ann Marie Furdock and Jack Murphy

Next, I’d like to introduce our distinguished part-time faculty for 2008.

Our first honoree is an individual known as a full-time APT staff member who also teaches part time in her program area. Barb Natell is director of the occupational therapy assistant program and also teaches part time.

Her student nominator said, “Barb is a very animated teacher. When she teaches, she will get up on tables, crawl around and show us what a disorder will look like. I like a teacher who is not afraid to look a little funny to get her point across.” Her dean added that, “Barb is a very competent and passionate part-time instructor who cares very deeply about ensuring that our students receive a quality education (that) allows them to master competencies and move on to become independent learners.”

Barb, I am pleased to present you with this 2008 Distinguished Part-Time Faculty Award.

Our second part-time faculty honoree is Jennifer Yeager. Jennifer began teaching French and Spanish here in 2006. Previously, she was an interpreter and tutor for immigrant students in the Williamsport Area School District, as well as a member of the Williamsport Area High School faculty and an English instructor for the school district’s adult GED program.

In addition to her devotion to her avocation as an instructor of languages, Jennifer is a very service-oriented individual. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, she organized a group of former students and sent an 18-wheeled truckload of food, clothing and supplies to the Gulf Coast.

Her student nominator said that she “makes learning fun. Beginning French is my favorite class. The hour and a half flies by as though it were 20 minutes. I can’t get enough of this class!” Jennifer’s assistant dean added that, “She is a well-prepared and meticulous instructor who loves language and culture and imparts that love “¦ to her students.”

Jennifer, I present you with this 2008 Distinguished Part-Time Faculty Award.

Our Distinguished Staff Awards recognize excellence among full-time APT, Classified and Service staff, as well as part-time employees. I am proud to introduce you to the four staff members selected this year.

The distinguished APT staff member for 2008 is Barbara Danko, director of alumni relations. Barb first joined the college family in 1980 as a part-time coordinator of outreach programs. She has led a variety of lives at the college: directing lifelong education, continuing education, staff development and distance learning before settling in as our alumni director.

One of her nominators said: “Barb has a natural talent for making everyone feel welcome” “¦ She “is possibly one of the most enthusiastic people I have ever met. Whether it is for alumni events, finding lost alumni, making a link for two alumni or just talking to alumni, she exhibits a love for her position and the people she deals with.” Another nominator said that Barb has “reintroduced thousands of alumni back to the college” and that “she has always understood our culture “¦ no matter in what department she worked, she was making a difference for Penn College.”

Congratulations, Barb.

This year’s distinguished Classified staff member is Molly Steele-Schrimp, secretary to the vice president for academic affairs and provost. Molly came to the college in 2002 as secretary to the assistant dean of business and computer technologies. Before her current position, she also served as secretary to the vice president for student affairs.

One of her nominators said that Molly “exemplifies the meaning of Penn College proud.” Another said: “Molly’s position requires a very strong commitment to high standards and quality and she shows the commitment each and every day “¦ she juggles her family commitments, class work and her job effortlessly.” And another added, “I was always impressed by how she handled the students, parents, off-campus landlords, and her co-workers and supervisors. Nothing seemed to rattle her and she was always knowledgeable, professional and understanding of their situation.”

Congratulations Molly.

This year’s distinguished Service staff member is Larry Shields. Larry has been the college’s motorpool mechanic assistant since 2002. His director explained that a large part of his work involves maintaining “the college fleet that staff members take on the road every day. He makes sure these vehicles are mechanically sound, fueled, oiled, checked, cleaned and fresh for every user.” One of his nominators said: “Larry’s “˜can do’ attitude shines as he tackles his daily tasks with great enthusiasm and cares for the machinery of the college.” Another said, “He is always willing to learn and adapt new ideas and techniques, evidenced by the way college vehicles run and perform. He also has the ability to display high personal and ethical standards, honesty, responsibility, integrity and trustworthiness.”

Congratulations, Larry.

The 2008 Part-time Staff Award Winner is Linda Kepner, PBX operator and receptionist. Linda first came onto campus in 1978 as a substitute clerical worker and, over the years, she has worked in many departments, including financial aid, student records, computer services, practical nursing, transportation, and shipping and receiving. She even did a stint as a Tot Watch supervisor (back in the days before the Children’s Learning Center existed). Over the years, she often returned to the switchboard, answering calls for us all. One of her nominators said, “I would describe Linda as a woman on a mission. Her mission is to help others and represent Penn College to the best of her ability.” A co-worker who also nominated her for this award called her a “natural “˜people person’ ” and said, “She has an extensive knowledge base that she uses to help and encourage others “¦ because of her long association with Penn College, she is always confident in giving information, and is able to explain directions and other information about the school in detail. People trust her.”

Congratulations, Linda.

I invite you all to join me now in recognizing our 2008 distinguished staff members our colleagues and friends who exemplify our often-repeated theme: At Penn College, people make the difference!

President Davie Jane Gilmour eyes an anniversary cake, prepared by baking and pastry arts students to mark her 10 years at the Penn College helm.I find it hard to believe that I started down this path as president of Penn College 10 years ago. A decade certainly goes by very quickly. I was honored when I was chosen to lead Penn College and I was optimistic about the state of our institution and our potential for the future. I still am. But I may have been more patient back then. Ten years have changed the way I look at time and opportunity. I don’t want us to wait. I don’t want us to waste time. I don’t want to lose an opportunity to make a difference.

Every good thing that we can do, I want us to do now. I want the student who needs our help to get it. Now! I want the adult worker who needs new skills to survive to get them. Now! I want members of our community who desperately need motivation to achieve their potential to be inspired. Now!

I want to know for sure that the opportunities that were available to my generation will also be available to my grandson. I want to know it. Now!

Work is personal to me, as it is to you. I don’t believe you can value a career in the field of education if you don’t take it personally. Each student’s achievement and each failure is a measure of how well we accomplish our mission. It is not always easy. But every success is worth the effort and every failure is an opportunity to learn how we can do better the next time.

The nationally known sales guru, Og Mandino, says: “A day merely survived is no cause for celebration. You are not here to fritter away your precious hours when you have the ability to accomplish so much.”

We have been granted the opportunity to represent to our community the values of Penn College: lifelong learning, cultural enrichment, community service, workforce integrity, personal responsibility, respect for diversity and the dignity of every individual.

Each of us carries the weight of responsibility for maintaining these values in our interactions on campus and in the community. I am and you are Penn College to the people we meet. When you stop and consider this statement: “I am Penn College to the people I meet,” you can begin to understand the impact of your work. What you do and how you do it really matters. Today’s young people are sometimes criticized for not being respectful, for not being highly motivated and for being unwilling to make the sacrifices that previous generations made in order to build stronger communities, stronger companies and stronger families.

Is this a character flaw born into each of these young people? I think not. It may instead reflect a failure of our generation to establish appropriate expectations, to teach values, to influence behavior and to hold accountable those young people in our charge in our classrooms, our workplaces, and in our homes.

We create our own legacy each day and there is no chance to rewrite history. What we do here and now matters.

I do have a sense of optimism about our young people. Never in my 30 years at this college have I met a more polite group than this year. My statement is based upon the number of doors held open or opened for me this academic year without a doubt a record, a sign of hope, respect and optimism.

After 10 years as your president, there is one thing I know for sure: “I” is never more important than “we.” Alone, “I” can never make the impact that “we” can make together.

When I look ahead, I see us tackling some hard issues in the future. I continue to feel, as I did 10 years ago, very optimistic about our potential to meet all the challenges that lie ahead.

I believe that personal commitment and creative thinking are crucial to our success in the years ahead. I will ask each of you to bring your best to the table every day. I will ask the same of myself.

President Davie Jane Gilmour receives a congratulatory hug from James E. Temple, assistant professor of electrical technology%2Foccupations and president of the Penn College Education Association, during Thursday's all-college meeting.As we look to the summer months, there is an opportunity for you to expand your horizons and to share your creativity in a way that will benefit all of us. You can create art and seek to become one of the Penn College employees whose talents will be featured in the Penn College Proud Showcase: An Employee Exhibition that will be held in the Gallery at Penn College next May. The exhibit will be held in the gallery, located on the third floor of Madigan Library, from May 14 through June 30, 2009.

Your service and hard work are valued. We want you to also cultivate your nonwork endeavors. Now is the time to let your creativity shine. I want to thank Linda Morris for bringing this idea to me; something done at Dartmouth College that she found in her reading. All full-time staff and faculty are welcome to submit entries. All work must be original and a statement of interest form must be submitted by Dec. 5. Watch the portal for details and spend time this summer planning and developing your submissions for the Employee Showcase.

To each of you, I offer my best wishes for a great summer, whether you are leaving us for the summer or will remain working full time, hosting our myriad guests, participating in Connections orientation programs and completing our summer work. If you are leaving the area for the summer, may you find new adventures and opportunities to enrich your service to Penn College and our students upon your return.

Regardless, we need to meet here again in August and launch another academic year. I continue to be honored to lead and come to work every day knowing that you and I are Penn College and the future is ours to realize.

Following the all-college meeting in fall, faculty will be invited to a collegewide meeting to explore the results of the NSSE the National Survey of Student Engagement which provides information on how undergraduates spend their time and what they gain from attending college.

We will consider ways to use the data to improve the student experience both inside and outside of the classroom.

In addition, we will look at the importance of being able to speak fluently about the Penn College student experience, as prospective students, their families and guidance counselors are being encouraged to use the information produced by the NSSE to understand more about different colleges, how students spend their time at college, and to make college-selection decisions.

Please come prepared to participate and learn.

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