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Presidential Address Balances Legacy, Focus on Tomorrow


Beginning a year that celebrates the institution’s history while defining its future, President Davie Jane Gilmour opened the Spring 2014 semester – and Penn College’s centennial – with an all-college address to faculty and staff. “It is all of us today – each of us in this room – who will determine how the beginning of the next 100 years is remembered,” she said Friday morning. “I ask each of us to remember we leave footprints and fingerprints every day, and that is an incredible responsibility.”

The following is drawn from President Gilmour’s remarks at a Jan. 10 gathering in the Klump Academic Center Auditorium:

Good morning. The wait is over; it is 2014. Happy 100th Birthday!

To talk for a minute about Governance: In reading the self-study, I am sure you then know that our internal governance system is key to shared planning and decision-making, and you know the importance of shared governance in reaccreditation.

Upon entering the auditorium this morning, you received a colorful flier listing the open positions for this year’s Governance elections.

There are positions for all employees: faculty, APT, classified and service. There is even one position open on the Curriculum Committee for a dean, associate dean or assistant dean.

You have two and a half weeks to learn more about Governance. Visit the Governance portal and read about the committees and their activities; contact a committee member and ask questions.

Think about all of your co-workers and who you believe would make a positive contribution. Then, beginning Jan. 29, visit the Governance portal and nominate someone. Or nominate yourself. Or both.

Governance is shared planning, decision-making and evaluation. It does not work without your involvement. Don’t be shy. Let your voice be heard and contribute to the process.

Governance has been an important part of our past and clearly will be a part of our future. Please get involved and make a difference.

Our history – that is what we are celebrating this year. But, honestly, I think we are also writing some history: the first year of our next hundred years. We are, in fact, creating our own legacy.

Thank you to all who attended our employee celebration yesterday. Nachos, chocolate and magnets – a surefire way to connect with colleagues and take a moment to celebrate your contributions to our success. Thank you to Dining Services for a great event.

Next is our student kickoff on Jan. 21 – a doubleheader basketball game. Come out and support the students and our athletes.

Later that week, we host John Ratzenberger – yes, from “Cheers,” but, most notably for us, “Made in America.” I am not sure you all realize this is not a public event, but an event focused on our Penn College employees, students and friends. I hope many of you can attend. The Community Arts Center will open at 6:30 p.m. for the 7:30 event, a great opportunity to expose us all to a viewpoint we share and we can learn and be further inspired by John. Watch for announcements after Jan. 15 – if there are extra tickets, we will make them available to all for friends, neighbors and others to attend this great event.

Another exciting opportunity for us all: The Frank Lloyd Wright Samara exhibit will be an excellent event in The Gallery at Penn College. The guest lecture will be presented by Jack Quinan, a historian specializing in Frank Lloyd Wright. He is the founder of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and the author of five books. His presentation is expected to draw quite a crowd of students and public, and has been moved from the presentation room of the SASC to the Academic Center Auditorium, Thursday, Jan. 16, 3:30 p.m., followed by the exhibit opening reception from 5-7 p.m. with a talk at 6 p.m. in The Gallery.

Speaking of art … 100 Works: Past, Present and Future : Alumni, faculty, students, retirees and staff are all invited to submit entries for the Juried Centennial Exhibition. The deadline is June 20 and the exhibit opens on Oct. 10. I know there is talent out there, so spread the word and consider your submissions.

Speaking of talent, the Centennial Colloquial Series is launching Feb. 27 with Dorothy Gerring and Rob Wozniak with students; Jaron Lanier, considered the father of virtual reality, joins us March 17; April 22, Rob Cooley and Mark Noe. In May, I will remind you of the other talented Penn College and external speakers in the series.

You will recall our Centennial Scholarship Campaign; our fundraising has been very successful. At the all-college meeting in August, I announced the launch of the public phase of the campaign. At that time, we had raised over $3.3 million in gifts, pledges and planned gifts. I am very pleased to tell you that, as of today, our efforts in this important fundraising initiative have resulted in over $5.1 million in gifts, pledges and planned gifts to our scholarship program. This additional support means that, in 2014-15, the Penn College Foundation will be able to double the amount of scholarship support provided to students prior to the start of the campaign in 2011. The generosity of Penn College employees has played a vital role in this campaign.

Total employee giving to Penn College since July 1, 2013, currently stands at $128,886, including gifts and pledges to both the scholarship campaign and other college initiatives.

As we celebrate our Centennial, I am very confident that we will continue to experience extraordinary growth in our scholarship program through 2014. I believe that this support will come from all of our constituents, including employees, friends, business and industry, and alumni.

Alumni are supporting our students in numbers greater than ever. The Penn College Foundation offered a $250 match to any non-donor alumni who made their first gift of $25 or more. The alumni gift, combined with the Foundation match, created “Next Centennial Scholarships” that will be awarded to first-year students in the alums’ programs of study. To date, 135 alumni have taken advantage of this match and have become new donors!

Plans are underway for the 2014-15 Penn College Fund Employee Campaign, which will kick off in April. As with our past employee campaigns, you have the option of designating your gift to scholarship awards, academic programs and services, special initiatives in a school or specific major, and the acquisition of new equipment and technology.

I am most grateful for the generous support we have received from employees for the Penn College Employee Campaign and our scholarship campaign. Thank you!

Before we really begin looking ahead, let’s take a minute and look at what we accomplished this past fall. Our retention increased for both two- and four-year students by 3 percent. Our enrollment increased, we improved our financial balance sheet, we revised our vision statement and, each day, we work to become a national leader in applied technology education.

While our degrees have a technology focus, what sets us apart from others is our grounding in general education for all students, our focus on the development of the whole student from a curricular, co-curricular and extracurricular viewpoint. This past semester, we had 1,184 students receive dean’s list letters and 787 students receive letters noting their good academic progress. We recognized students for community service, athletic accomplishment, contributions to their professional growth and national competition winners – all examples of student success, student growth and development.

We consider assessment to part of our daily work. Assessing student knowledge and skill remains a key element in the teaching-learning continuum, a truism recognized by the Award for Outstanding Assessment of Student Learning.

It gives me pleasure to announce the recipients of the award, in its second year. Kathleen Hyatt and Margaret Faust, both assistant professors of nursing, have made optimal use of the new laboratory space and its resident, SimMan 3G. The high-fidelity mannequin stands in (or sits or lies) as patient within this hospital setting for the students who demonstrate professional behavior, provision of care, and selection of appropriate informatics – in addition to four other learning outcomes.

The activity is designed not only to practice appropriate nursing functions, it also involves reflective learning, critical thinking, communication, collaboration and responsiveness to the cultural needs of the patient – therefore assessing course and core outcomes – a significant accomplishment. The award recognizes the creativity these faculty apply in the new lab, as well as the opportunities they provide students to practice patient care in a safe environment.

Watch for their Best Practice posting that will appear on the QTA website within the next few weeks.

Congratulations to our award-winners; we look forward to recognizing more assessment work in the future.

Students are the key to our work. Notably this fall, 137 faculty and staff were recognized by students for making a difference. Students were asked to “name the person at Penn College who has helped you the most in your college success.” This request was sent to students via their MapWorks Fall Checkup survey – 1,141 of 1,521 students responded. What is most gratifying is that 137 different individuals were recognized by students for their help, some by multiple students. Thank you for making a difference for students – and making us Penn College proud.

Spring brings many things for us. As we all know, we have had snow, ice and frigid temperatures. No doubt more to come. We are getting ready for Spring Open House, finalizing curriculum work and working on next year’s budget. Athletic teams are in full spring schedule. Our NCAA application will be submitted by Jan. 15. Our new Strategic Plan will be ready for campus review and input by March. Just to name a few.

The Centennial brings many activities to us this year; please take time to visit the website and review the schedule. We are inviting all former presidents to campus in July, and a number of former staff who contributed to our institutional mission.

I have said that it is a year to celebrate our history, our legacy and, perhaps most importantly, define our future. It is all of us today – each of us in this room – who will determine how the beginning of the next 100 years is remembered. I ask each of us to remember we leave footprints and fingerprints every day, and that is an incredible responsibility.

John Kennedy said, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.”

Happy New Year.

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