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Renewed tradition honors outstanding Penn College employees

Pennsylvania College of Technology recently paid tribute to noteworthy staff, a part-time instructor, success in student advisement and assessment; honored the longtime service of a number of employees; and showed appreciation to those who retired during the just-ended academic year.

President Davie Jane Gilmour recognized the honorees during a May 13 all-college meeting, held before a pandemic-limited gathering in Bardo Gymnasium and livestreamed for the benefit of others.

Distinguished Staff Awards, a campus tradition since the 1990s, were presented in Penn College’s three personnel classifications (administrative, professional and technical; classified; and service), as well as to a part-time employee.

The latest Distinguished Staff Award recipients are Brian D. Walton, assistant dean of business and hospitality (APT); Bridgette R. Snyder, secretary to Public Relations & Marketing (classified); Barbie A. Myers, horticulturist (service); and Michael J. McNaul, physics laboratory technician, (part time).

“Brian seems to get along with everyone. He has strong rapport with faculty, students, staff and administrators. (He) listens and shares thoughts and encourages others to have a voice. Faculty and staff feel comfortable sharing concerns with him, and because they do so freely, he is able to build relationships and foster growth (both within himself, as well as within others),” one of Walton’s nominators wrote. “Perhaps the strongest interpersonal skill that Brian demonstrates is that he cares. His concern and compassion are evident as he engages with others.”

Of Snyder, a co-worker related: “Bridgette transferred to Public Relations & Marketing in November 2019. Due to her vast knowledge of the college, agility to learn quickly, excellent work ethic and easy demeanor, she has become an integral part of PRM. I’m so happy that she chose to join (our) family, and I look forward to seeing what more she brings to the team! She is a star employee and student. Yes, she also is taking two classes, is on the Dean’s List and will graduate this May!”

Colleagues said one look at the college’s magnificently maintained grounds are all the affirmation one needs for Myers’ selection: “You would think a little water and sunlight is all you need, but it takes many hours every week on watering, trimming, deadheading and disease control to keep the flowers looking great all summer. It is truly an art. I see the faculty, staff and students enjoying these displays by getting pictures by them, posting pictures online, in magazines, and just the simple ‘stop and smell.’”

McNaul was praised for his deft juggling act in keeping the labs well-stocked and orderly.

“The physics laboratories at Penn College are used by hundreds of students every week, three full professors and four or five adjunct faculty members during each semester,” a full-time faculty member said. “Every week, there are at least 10 different lab activities taking place, each requiring a very specific set of equipment, expected to be in place before the start of every lab and promptly taken away after the lab. Sometimes several different activities happen on a given day in the same lab. To maintain that service requires coordination, dedication to details and a high level of organization. That is what we expect and consistently receive from Mike McNaul.”

A Part-Time Teaching Excellence Award was presented to Karen R. Ruhl, a horticulture instructor much-loved for her “Art of Floral Design” course.

“Karen is very special to the horticulture program, and we are lucky to have her. It’s wonderful to have someone so talented to deliver instruction to our students,” a Schneebeli Earth Science Center co-worker said. “(Her) creativeness and artistic ability stimulate students to learn more about floral design. Many students wish there were more classes they could take with Karen because, after working with her, they want a hobby or business in floral design.”

Alicia L. McNett, assistant professor of computer information technology, received the Excellence in Academic Advising Award, which recognizes excellent academic advising and service to students, and encourages continuation of that excellence.

She “provides students with great advice, encouraging them to rise to their greatest potential,” a nominator wrote. “Many advisees in the … program come to the college with little IT background, and with several math and reading deficiencies. She encourages students to excel past those obstacles … exhibiting toughness without being difficult and breaking a student’s spirit.”

The President’s Award for Outstanding Assessment of Student Learning was presented to two faculty members and an administrator – Kelly B. Butzler, associate professor of chemistry; Rob Cooley, associate professor of anthropology/environmental science; and Joanna K. Flynn, dean of curriculum and instruction – who gathered feedback from students and faculty during the pandemic-induced switch to distance education.

“Never in the history of higher education have students and faculty been forced to almost instantaneously completely change the methods by which teaching and learning occur,” their nominator said. “Researchers have extensive data regarding online teaching and learning when faculty and students choose this modality, but a shift from face-to-face, hands-on, applied technology education to mandatory remote, individual learning (had) not been researched.”

Reaching milestones during 2020-21 are:

  • 45 years – Linda M. McFadden
  • 40 years – Perry R. Gotschal
  • 35 years – Clint K. Ault, Lynn Turney and Sharon M. Weiler.
  • 30 years – Jane E. Grages, Tom F. Gregory and Thomas F. Speicher.

Joining the college’s Quarter Century Club with 25 years’ service are Geoffrey M. Campbell, Michael P. Covone, Michael J. Ditchfield, Keith H. English, Vicki K. Killian, Tina M. Miller, Robert I. Mitchell, Tuna Saka, William F. Stepp and Theresa M. Wyland.

Retiring in 2020-21 were Christy S. Allen, Alicia S. Andrews, Clint K. Ault, Linda M. Barnes, Michael L. Bremigen, Todd Campbell, Mindy L. Carr, Donald Cohick, Michael R. Delaney, Lynne Doane, Keith H. English, Karen L. Fischer, Roy P. Fontaine, Perry R. Gotschal, Tom F. Gregory, Robert P. Gresko, Ruth Guinter, Carol E. Hall, Eric Henneberger, Thomas D. Hill, Mary Ann Hollenbach, John C. Hruschka, Kyle D. Hunter, Jacklyn R. Leitzel, Glenn R. Luse, Hope Miller-Cupp, Pamela J. Morse, Lewis H. Moyer, Joseph E. Myers, Brad L. Nason, Robin Rader-Edkin, Jeff G. Rotoli, Kim Schweikart, Debra L. Shoemaker, Charles J. Stopper, James E. Weibley, Sharon M. Weiler, Rita D. Wertz, Shirley A. Yancey and Tom A. Zimmerman.

Promoted in academic rank beginning with the Fall 2021 semester are Pamela W. Baker, from assistant professor to associate professor of nursing programs; Kelly B. Butzler, from associate professor to professor of chemistry; Stephen R. Cheskiewicz, from assistant professor to associate professor of computer information technology; Joshua D. Hill, from assistant professor to associate professor of speech communication/composition; Justin M. Ingram, from assistant professor to associate professor of biology; and Christopher S. Weaver, from instructor to assistant professor of diesel equipment technology.

For more about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

– Photos by Cindy Davis Meixel, writer/photo editor, and Larry D. Kauffman, digital publishing specialist/photographer

"We made it!" President Davie Jane Gilmour said, gratified to be meeting in person with employees after the against-all-odds completion of a face-to-face instructional year. "That is an incredible accomplishment of which we should be very, very proud, and I thank all of you for everything you did to make that happen."
“We made it!” President Davie Jane Gilmour said, gratified to be meeting in person with employees after the against-all-odds completion of a face-to-face instructional year. “That is an incredible accomplishment of which we should be very, very proud, and I thank all of you for everything you did to make that happen.”

A shaking of the president's frequently sanitized hand makes official the Distinguished Staff Award for Brian D. Walton, assistant dean of business and hospitality.
A shaking of the president’s frequently sanitized hand makes official the Distinguished Staff Award for Brian D. Walton, assistant dean of business and hospitality.

Seven of the 41 employees retiring in 2020-21 gather for a group photo after acknowledgement of their years of service. Back row (from left): Perry R. Gotschal, Roy P. Fontaine, Tom F. Gregory and Glenn R. Luse. Front row (from left): Hope Miller-Cupp, Mindy L. Carr and Tom A. Zimmerman.
Seven of the 41 employees retiring in 2020-21 gather for a group photo after acknowledgement of their years of service. Back row (from left): Perry R. Gotschal, Roy P. Fontaine, Tom F. Gregory and Glenn R. Luse. Front row (from left): Hope Miller-Cupp, Mindy L. Carr and Tom A. Zimmerman.

Bridgette R. Snyder thanks everyone who has enriched her 10-plus years as a college employee. "I feel so blessed to be able to laugh, love and even cry with my colleagues," the Public Relations & Marketing secretary said.
Bridgette R. Snyder thanks everyone who has enriched her 10-plus years as a college employee. “I feel so blessed to be able to laugh, love and even cry with my colleagues,” the Public Relations & Marketing secretary said.

The gymnasium walls and ductwork clearly mark the Wildcats' turf, adding to the home-court vibe of Thursday's proceedings.
The gymnasium walls and ductwork clearly mark the Wildcats’ turf, adding to the home-court vibe of Thursday’s proceedings.

"I just really love my job," horticulturist Barbie A. Myers said in accepting her co-workers' accolades, "and it's amazing I get paid for it!"
“I just really love my job,” horticulturist Barbie A. Myers said in accepting her co-workers’ accolades, “and it’s amazing I get paid for it!”

"I'm very happy to join the ranks of those who've been rendered speechless by the 'Prize Patrol,'" physics laboratory technician Michael J. McNaul jokes in reference to the entourage that annual crosses campus to inform award recipients of their selection, before expressing sincere gratitude for "this big surprise and great honor."
“I’m very happy to join the ranks of those who’ve been rendered speechless by the ‘Prize Patrol,'” physics laboratory technician Michael J. McNaul jokes in reference to the entourage that annual crosses campus to inform award recipients of their selection, before expressing sincere gratitude for “this big surprise and great honor.”

Four of the 10 newest members of the college's Quarter Century Club were on hand to receive plaques denoting their respective 25 years' employment. From left are Theresa M. Wyland, Academic Success Center secretary; Tina M. Miller, director of Public Relations & Marketing; Tuna Saka, associate professor of architectural technology; and Chef Michael J. Ditchfield, instructor of hospitality management/culinary arts.
Four of the 10 newest members of the college’s Quarter Century Club were on hand to receive plaques denoting their respective 25 years’ employment. From left are Theresa M. Wyland, Academic Success Center secretary; Tina M. Miller, director of Public Relations & Marketing; Tuna Saka, associate professor of architectural technology; and Chef Michael J. Ditchfield, instructor of hospitality management/culinary arts.

Shunning the spotlight and acknowledging an extraordinary team effort to deliver in-person instruction, Walton said, "Everybody who made this last year successful deserves an award ... for your patience, your creativity and your positivity."
Shunning the spotlight and acknowledging an extraordinary team effort to deliver in-person instruction, Walton said, “Everybody who made this last year successful deserves an award … for your patience, your creativity and your positivity.”

The meeting was moved to Bardo Gymnasium, allowing for greater distance between masked attendees. Livestreaming of the event also kept the gathering within prescribed safety limits.
The meeting was moved to Bardo Gymnasium, allowing for greater distance between masked attendees. Livestreaming of the event also kept the gathering within prescribed safety limits.

"The class provides the students an artistic outlet for their creative expressions, Karen R. Ruhl said of her unique Art of Floral Design course. "They get to work with beautiful flowers and foliages, learning skills that they may be able to use for the rest of their lives."
“The class provides the students an artistic outlet for their creative expressions, Karen R. Ruhl said of her unique Art of Floral Design course. “They get to work with beautiful flowers and foliages, learning skills that they may be able to use for the rest of their lives.”

Kelly B. Butzler, honored with The President’s Award for Outstanding Assessment of Student Learning along with Rob Cooley and Joanna K. Flynn (at left), explains the impetus for their near-immediate survey of faculty and student experiences during the pandemic-induced pivot to virtual instruction. "It's one thing to choose to take or teach a course remotely," she said. "It's another to take courses, many of which were designed for true hands-on, in-person environments, and move them online."
Kelly B. Butzler, honored with The President’s Award for Outstanding Assessment of Student Learning along with Rob Cooley and Joanna K. Flynn (at left), explains the impetus for their near-immediate survey of faculty and student experiences during the pandemic-induced pivot to virtual instruction. “It’s one thing to choose to take or teach a course remotely,” she said. “It’s another to take courses, many of which were designed for true hands-on, in-person environments, and move them online.”

A floral tribute on a red-letter day
A floral tribute on a red-letter day

Those reaching workplace plateaus this academic year include (from left) Perry R. Gotschal, assistant professor of electronics, 40 years; and 30-year employees Thomas F. Speicher, writer/video producer. and Tom F. Gregory, assistant dean of construction and architectural technologies.
Those reaching workplace plateaus this academic year include (from left) Perry R. Gotschal, assistant professor of electronics, 40 years; and 30-year employees Thomas F. Speicher, writer/video producer. and Tom F. Gregory, assistant dean of construction and architectural technologies.

Gilmour congratulates Cooley, a co-winner for assessment, who said the group's work will pay long-term dividends: "We feel that these skills are going to be essential tools that we can use to meet every single one of our students where they are."
Gilmour congratulates Cooley, a co-winner for assessment, who said the group’s work will pay long-term dividends: “We feel that these skills are going to be essential tools that we can use to meet every single one of our students where they are.”

Sign language interpreter Courtney Tarselli adds to the accessibility of the celebratory event.
Sign language interpreter Courtney Tarselli adds to the accessibility of the celebratory event.

Among the faculty members promoted in academic rank beginning with the 2021-22 year are Kelly B. Butzler (left), from associate professor to professor of chemistry, and Pamela W. Baker, from assistant professor to associate professor of nursing programs.
Among the faculty members promoted in academic rank beginning with the 2021-22 year are Kelly B. Butzler (left), from associate professor to professor of chemistry, and Pamela W. Baker, from assistant professor to associate professor of nursing programs.