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Sincere accolades, tough talk punctuate president’s kickoff message

Pennsylvania College of Technology President Davie Jane Gilmour recognized exemplary faculty and staff during an all-college address Thursday morning, then used “some very plain language” to emphasize for all of her co-workers the inherent personal accountability of starting the 2020-21 academic year amid a global health crisis. “It is critical that we all follow the expectations and model the behaviors we want our students to follow. If we do not, one careless act by a group of students or employees could shut us down,” she said in her remarks, traditionally held in the Klump Academic Center but moved online to avoid a crowded gathering. “If you are not feeling well, please stay home. Wear your mask and enforce mask wearing in your labs and classes. Your personal health and the health and welfare of your fellow employees and students depend upon your vigilance. Our lives in 2020 are forever changed. Let’s be certain we manage that change to the best of our ability.”

(The following is drawn from President Gilmour’s virtual all-college meeting to start the Fall 2020 semester.)

Good morning.

Rarely am I at a loss for words, but it is difficult for me to grasp where I should begin with my remarks today.

The last time we were together for an all-college meeting was January. If you pause for just one minute and think about what has happened between then and now, the results are incomprehensible.

There is so much to share and discuss, yet this forum, while an option, does not replace the one-to-one and group interaction that unites our common purpose and mission.

As student speaker Ali Petrizzi said at our recent commencement ceremonies, we must persevere and adapt.

We will begin with the very important annual recognition of our co-workers.

These remarks, like the 15 socially responsible commencement ceremonies we held this month, are a nod to the pandemic that has affected the way in which we gather to celebrate the accomplishments of our students and one another.

So as not to take up much of your time in this ramp-up to the new semester, comments about our impressive Penn College all-stars are more abridged than usual. It is my hope that we will more thoroughly acknowledge their talents when we can safely gather again as a full campus community.

Excellence in Teaching Award
We’ll begin with Excellence in Teaching Awards for three full-time faculty members:  Carl J. Bower Jr., assistant professor of horticulture; Barbara F. Di Marco, assistant professor of mathematics; and Heather S. Dorman, instructor of physician assistant.

One of Carl’s student nominators said: “When I started this program, I knew little about what I was getting into. It did not take long at all before the passions and knowledge Mr. Bower contained started to take over, and I realized what a beautiful world I have surrounding me. It has opened new doors, passions, beliefs and goals that I never could have imagined. My skies are endless, and it all started with Mr. Bower’s infectious knowledge and passions.”

Barb also shines in the eyes of her students, one of whom wrote: “She has a vast knowledge and understanding on the subject and shares how math relates to problem-solving in the real world. She takes time to be sure we are able to accomplish our goals of competency of the subject matter before tests. Because, when her students accomplish their goals, she has accomplished her goal, as well.”

Engaging students also ranks high among Heather’s nominators, including the colleague who noted: “In addition to remaining clinically active herself, and being an integral part of new initiatives in her clinical practice, Heather is eager to employ new teaching methodology and emerging instructional technologies in her classroom. She has taken the lead on incorporating portable ultrasound – an up-and-coming clinical tool for practicing physician assistants – into the program curriculum. She has been a great example for students of the necessity of continuing education, being willing to take her personal time to learn the skills required to effectively teach ultrasound skills, even collaborating with her clinical colleagues.”

Congratulations to Carl, Barb and Heather – the latest additions to our Excellence in Teaching roster.

Part-Time Teaching Excellence Award
This year’s Part-Time Teaching Excellence Award winner is Mindy L. Carr, clinical director of the paramedic program. Among the nuggets from her enthusiastic nominator was this: “When I originally saw Mindy’s application for her job, I sincerely asked my boss at the time if the candidate was 100 years old. She had such an awesome diversity of experience that it seemed impossible that one person could have done all that was on her resume at that time. It turns out that Mindy not only was the real deal … the mind-boggling go-getter that she seemed on paper … but our students have benefited from her nature of wanting to continue to learn while educating others.”

Congratulations, Mindy!

Excellence in Academic Advising
Our newest recipient of an Excellence in Academic Advising Award is a faculty member who consistently keeps students on track for academic and career success – regardless of whether they are even his advisees: David J. Fedor, assistant professor of civil engineering technology.

In addition to endorsements from students who have benefited from his expert guidance, a colleague applauded his flexibility and focus: “Civil engineering professionals should be primed and prepared to think creatively to solve unique challenges. At the onset of the pandemic, Dave set up group Zoom sessions and reminded students that they had the skills needed to find solutions to the barriers they may be facing, including technology issues. It was evident that he had created a community of problem-solvers who were confident that they could meet the challenge thrust upon them.”

President’s Award for Outstanding Assessment
The President’s Award for Outstanding Assessment is presented this year to two faculty members: Linda L. Locher, an assistant professor and counselor, and Terri A. Stone, assistant professor of nursing, whose collaborative effort both increased the number of mental health screenings and assisted nursing students in meeting their clinical requirements.

“A comparison of the number of screenings completed by students in the weeks prior to and after the project revealed a sizable increase, most notably in the two areas that were the focus of the intervention – anxiety and depression screening – and in the general distress/health screening,” our Quality Through Assessment staff reported.

We congratulate Linda and Terri for working together so effectively on behalf of our students, and for their reminder of the more vulnerable among us: students in need of empathy and intervention on their way to being tomorrow makers.

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

This year’s distinguished APT staff member is Tina M. Miller, director of public relations and marketing.

“As an alumna, longtime employee and senior leader, her passion for our students and their successful outcomes is worn on her sleeve, and she takes the greatest of pride in her work on our college’s behalf,” a nominator wrote. “Tina is the type of strategic thinker who is comfortable in an environment of change, and she never presents a problem without offering a solution. Her leadership over the past three years of brand development and roll-out has been instrumental to our award-winning success to date.”

I want to note that Tina brought her sewing machine to campus this past weekend to shorten, on-the-spot, some masks for our graduates, which were too big for the students! That’s going the extra mile.

Our Classified honoree this year is Ashley M. Hunter, secretary to Residence Life – and, fittingly, given her gratitude for working here, adviser to our cheerleading squad.

“Ashley’s energy, positive attitude, sound judgment, sense of humor and concern for students make her a distinguished employee at Pennsylvania College of Technology,” a co-worker remarked. “While her job title is ‘secretary, one would think that her main contribution to Penn College would be her administrative skills. While she is very strong administratively, she brings so much more to the table in terms of her dedication and willingness to fully immerse herself in Penn College and the students we serve.”

Our distinguished Service staff member this year is Chad M. Aloisio, service and design technician for General Services, who has put his fabrication talents to work on a number of beautiful and interesting design elements including the 10-foot steel “PCT” letters near the Field House, the stainless-steel “living” picture frames near College Avenue Labs and the Bush Campus Center, the metal trees at the Thompson Professional Development Center and the Madigan Library, and the stainless-steel flowers outside our Penn College at Wellsboro campus.

“If you have enjoyed the Penn College grounds, the antique waterfall truck or any of the flowering sculptures, you have had a relationship with Chad,” his nominator said. “Chad works with the horticulture department daily on equipment, and helping us turn some of our crazy ideas into reality.”

In addition to our three full-time Distinguished Staff recipients, we’re also honoring Megan E. Rogers from among our talented reservoir of part-time employees. As information desk assistant at the Student & Administrative Services Center, Megan is one of the first friendly faces and voices encountered by visitors to main campus.

“She quickly makes a connection with students and doesn’t hesitate to offer help, often going above and beyond to help a frustrated or upset student,” a colleague wrote. “I’ve witnessed Megan come out from behind her desk to calm or comfort a student, and most often this has led to a favorable outcome for both the student and the college. Her customer service skills and knowledge of the college make her an exceptional employee. But it’s her interpersonal skills, together with her kindness and compassion for others, that prove she is a true asset to the college. We’re fortunate to have her welcoming our students and guests every day.”

Quarter Century Club
In late June, during a special recognition ceremony on the PDC lawn, we honored those whose retirement coincided with their induction into the college’s Quarter Century Club: Barb Albert, Rick Calvert, Donna Culton, Mark Kieser and Ann Reichelderfer.

Today, we add eight others who are returning for the Fall 2020 semester: From faculty, Richard Hendricks, Karen Martin, Bradley Nason and David Richards; from Classified, Susan Shuman; and from APT, Heather Allison, Jean Bremigen and Shirley Yancey.

We also celebrate other longtime co-workers about to begin this new academic year. Hitting the 30-year mark are, from faculty: Marc Bridgens, Kirk Cantor, Kevin Derr, Vincent Fagnano, Dorothy Gerring, Walter Gower, Edwin Owens, Mary Trometter and Katherine Walker. From APT: Donald Luke and Susan Welshans.

Two employees crossed the 40-year threshold: Faculty member Roy Fontaine and Service employee Thomas Linn.

Congratulations once more to our newest full- and part-time faculty luminaries, our Distinguished Staff Award winners, the recipients of accolades in advising and assessment, and those attaining longevity milestones as we navigate these unchartered waters together.

While COVID-19 certainly slowed, and even halted, many things throughout the world this year, the engagement from our alumni, employees, corporate partners and friends continued at a steadfast pace.

Over 230 Tomorrow Maker alumni volunteers advocated for a Penn College education in their personal and professional networks. Nearly 500 scholarships were awarded to deserving students through the Penn College Foundation. And, nearly $8.2 million was raised – another record-setting year for our institution and the students we serve.

The generosity of our constituents continues. The Larry A. Ward Machining Technologies Center renovations and equipment installations are nearing completion, thanks to Larry’s significant investment.

Mobile C-Arm technology was donated to benefit both radiography and surgical technology students, refining skills prior to their clinical experiences.

And, most recently, a CL-600 Challenger jet landed at the Williamsport Regional Airport thanks to a trio of executives who believe in the power of applied technology education. Our aviation students are thrilled to refine their expertise using this live technology.

I could share many more examples of support.

And now, I turn to you, our valued employees.

As always, you rose to the occasion by committing more than $152,000 in support of students during this year’s Employee Campaign – 68% of those contributions to scholarships. To date, more than 220 employees have contributed to ensure the success of our innovative tomorrow makers.

If you would still like to participate, please contact Loni Kline, vice president for college relations. She and her team would be happy to discuss options that match your philanthropic interests. I thank you for your ongoing teamwork and support.

The merger of Institutional Advancement and Career Services to form the Office of College Relations has already proven to be a great alignment for our students, alumni and corporate employers.

Career Services continues to empower the workplace readiness of students by utilizing Microsoft Teams to present a variety of professional development opportunities. Virtual sessions like Personal Branding, Ace the Interview, and LinkedIn Networking were popular among both students and alumni.

The most sought-after service prepared students to interview virtually. More than 100 students participated in custom mock interviews and were impressed with their interview experiences and outcomes when implementing the advice received.

One participant said: “I wanted to express my pure gratitude for being able to go through the mock interview process. I learned so much from the experience that I believe will truly help me in getting a job in the near future.”

Please stay tuned for information about the Fall Virtual Career Fair, along with a variety of virtual options for our students and employers to get connected this semester.

The Middle States Self-Study Steering Committee will continue the work started last spring to complete a successful reaccreditation culminating with an on-site visit in Spring 2022.

The hard work of our faculty, administrators, and staff reflects our mission and our commitment to meeting the Commission’s comprehensive and rigorous standards for a quality education. We are looking forward to documenting what we’ve done well and learning where we can continually improve. Work group members will be reaching out to the campus community as they seek evidence, documentation, and best-practice examples for the Self-Study. I encourage all employees to be responsive to their requests.

Our assessment efforts for the new core curriculum kicks off this semester with our first campuswide assessment of the Critical Thinking foundation goal. The new assessment process will not only help us measure our student learning at the program, school and institutional level, but it also presents an opportunity for programs to integrate the core curriculum in course assignments. Look for training opportunities from the Quality Through Assessment committee to assist selected faculty with implementing the new assessments.

Employee engagement is valuable to our college community. Employees who feel engaged are more likely to be motivated and committed to their work. Last year, we began exploring the implementation of an annual employee engagement survey. The timing for such data collection is never perfect, but the results are always important.

In the weeks ahead, you will receive an email from Hillary Hofstrom in Human Resources requesting your participation. This short survey will provide the college with current feedback to help assess climate and guide future decisions. Your answers will be collected anonymously. We value your input. Thank you in advance for your participation.

Since we last gathered, our society has begun to look at race, diversity and inclusion in a very different light. This is not the first time I have stood before you to talk about the climate of our campus, but I think we all agree that this time in history seems different.

The tragic killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and others; the Black Lives Matter movement; recent decisions about the Confederate flag and Civil War monuments; and our society’s social and political unease have created an even greater focus on how we view one another, especially those from historically marginalized backgrounds.

Let me be very clear: The way our society treats Black people, people of color and other racial minorities has not changed. What has changed is that the majority and those in power have begun to pay attention and become more engaged.

Six months ago, kneeling during the National Anthem was one of the most radical things one could do; just this week, we’ve seen athletes and coaches in major sports around the country do just that, and to applause.

No matter what your view on these issues, no one can deny that we continue to see racist and bias-related incidents occurring on our campus and in the social media activity of some of our students.

Penn College has a strong history of supporting and promoting issues of diversity and inclusion on campus, but our work toward a more socially just climate has not been enough.

We have made the strategic decision to recommit to ensuring that all members of the college community can live, work and learn in a safe environment, free from harassment, discrimination and prejudice.

As part of this effort, I am establishing an Inclusion Task Force to focus on ways Penn College can better educate and support all members of our community, especially those from historically marginalized backgrounds. The task force, which will be co-chaired by Elliott Strickland, vice president for student affairs; Mike Reed, vice president for academic affairs and provost; and Elizabeth Winder, assistant professor of human services, will include representative faculty, staff and students from across campus.

This task force will have two main roles: The first is to assist me and college leadership in identifying and responding to problems that we see as hampering our efforts to create a more socially just campus for our students, faculty and staff. The second, is to work as the college’s planning committee with Rankin & Associates Consulting, a group from State College with whom we have contracted to conduct a systemic campus climate study, with the goal of developing strategic plans for direct action to improve the Penn College experience for all.

Additionally, the Student Engagement Office has established a Bias Education & Support Team, which is co-chaired by Sammie Davis, coordinator of diversity and student engagement, and Allison Bressler Grove, director of student engagement.

The team of faculty, staff and students will work together to respond to situations of bias that occur on campus and to educate everyone on issues that affect the larger Wildcat community. This work will allow the college to identify trends, produce relevant educational programming and address situations in a timely manner.

You no doubt saw my message regarding the Confederate flag on our campus. While not without some controversy, the message has been incredibly well-received by the vast majority of our community.

My challenge to students, and to you, is to consider why this image is being used, and to challenge everyone to see this divisive image through other people’s eyes. Our goal with these efforts it to ensure that ALL of our students can fully benefit from everything a Penn College education has to offer. I call upon each of you to join us in helping to make our campus a more socially just place.

Today and tomorrow, we have a guest presenter on campus to provide us with an introspective development session titled, “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion:
The Power of Culture and Implicit Bias.” This interactive presentation will engage participants in a discussion around our earliest cultural influences and their impact on the development of biases that are often unrealized, unconscious or implicit.

A better understanding of personal and group biases is an ideal springboard to expanding one’s comfort zone with people and situations that are unfamiliar and perhaps uncomfortable. Registration is open through the Employee Information System, and I strongly encourage your participation.

I cannot comment enough on the power of team and resiliency. I would like to share a few of the highlights of how schools/faculty quickly pivoted to ensure student success in Spring 2020.

• Chris Warren personally delivered construction and design materials to students around the commonwealth, driving more than 500 miles in order to teach hands-on labs remotely.

• Michael Dincher and Wyatt Forest, in horticulture and forestry, completed high-climbing arboriculture labs, using GoPro cameras to deliver instruction.

• Our Madigan Library team and Information Technology Services deployed multiple laptops to our students in need.

• Eric Albert, manufacturing and engineering technologies, generated face shields from 3D printers for health-care providers, and he also printed ventilator splitters in the event of a ventilator shortage.

• Spyke Krepshaw and web and interactive media students have been assisting essential, small-scale community businesses stay afloat by setting up online ordering systems.

• Valerie Myers, assistant dean of nursing, coordinated a large-scale collection of Personal Protection Equipment, providing essential protection to local nursing home facilities.

We continue to capitalize on the creative ideas using online platforms (Zoom and Teams) to connect with high school and middle school audiences interested in sustainable career fields. Data collected from faculty and students when we had to pivot quickly to remote learning has led to effective and well-attended professional development sessions throughout the summer. (Special thanks to Kelly Butzler, Rob Cooley and Joanna Flynn for their work in this area.)

A massive structure meant to encourage the “ecological awakening of humanity” benefited from Penn College’s welding expertise and facilities. Nine instructors and 15 students spent 10 weeks fabricating the structural framework for the Living Chapel, unveiled in May at the Botanical Garden of Rome during Global Catholic Climate Movement activities.

When social distancing rules permit, the open-air sanctuary – made of aluminum, and recycled and repurposed materials – will be placed at the Vatican before being moved to its permanent home in Assisi, Italy, the birthplace of St. Francis, the patron saint of ecology, whose small church provided the footprint for the Living Chapel.

The National Sustainable Structures Center, part of Workforce Development, had a banner year and will be expanding its building performance training services to western Pennsylvania. They will be in their new office in Latrobe in September.

Despite the interruption of a pandemic, the Workforce Development Office’s customized training options continued to be in demand, and they finished the year strong. The Licensed Practical Nursing program in Wellsboro, EMT programs in various locations, a new online project management class, ongoing and new apprenticeship programs, and courses to help people manage through the pandemic proved to be essential offerings.

The changing landscape of higher education requires a vigilant commitment to creativity and innovation in our strategic planning for student recruitment.

COVID-19 has challenged all traditional approaches to college recruitment. With our continued focus on addressing our enrollment decline, now, more than ever, is the time to seek new, different and exciting methods of outreach and recruitment.

Admissions, in collaboration with Public Relations & Marketing and other campus partners, has been working diligently to address our challenges head-on, and I’d like to highlight a few of their new initiatives:

On Aug. 1, 2019, we implemented the Common App for first-year students.

The Common App is a centralized college application service that allows students to search for and apply to colleges on one platform via one application form, and it receives more than a million applications a year. Since launching, we have received a total of 1,505 applications (51 for Spring 2020 and 1,454 for Fall 2020). Of the 1,505 applications received, 342 are from international applicants.

In April 2020, we launched a new Slate functionality to allow prospective students to self-schedule appointments with admissions counselors. This new initiative allows students to sign up for a date and time that’s convenient to them to have a one-to-one conversation with their personal admissions counselor.

In April, through a partnership with Full Measure Education, we implemented a mobile accepted student experience. Through this experience, students receive a text message with a link to their mobile acceptance letter, which then prompts them to share their acceptance using a custom Penn College filter on social media.

In June, we launched our Explore Penn College mobile app, which provides a mobile engagement platform for prospective students. This new feature will allow us to provide custom content to app users and facilitate communications in an additional way.

In July, we launched a new virtual tour.

On Aug. 1, we launched a full redesign of our Admissions webpages to create an enhanced user experience for our prospective students. Now, when students visit the Admissions & Aid page, they will be prompted to self-identify as first-year, transfer, international, returning or casual learner. This allows us to tailor all of the content on the page to what the student will experience in the admissions process.

In August, we will launch a new email campaign for prospective students. This campaign, complete with a new look and feel, boldly promotes the Penn College brand and aims to bolster the connection between prospective students and their personal admissions counselors.

From March 23 thru Aug. 7, with the help of partners from across the entire campus community, we hosted 98 virtual Q&A sessions. We had 617 prospective students register to attend a virtual event.

Our total applications for Fall 2020 are up 5% from 2019. This includes 357 applications from international students, which is an increase of 297 applications from Fall 2019.

I cannot predict what our final fall enrollment will be. Anecdotally, we know students and parents are waiting until the last minute to decide. They want in-person hands on education, or they are stopping out for a year.

The work that has been done by Enrollment Management and Academic Affairs to manage this turbulent sea of change has been nothing short of heroic. We will know in a few weeks.

As you may have heard that we, along with the other schools in the North Eastern Athletic Conference, made the decision to cancel our Fall 2020 sports competition. While gut-wrenching for our student-athletes, this was the right decision to support the health and well-being of our students. We have said from the beginning that our student-athletes are students first, and their academic pursuits are paramount.

This was certainly the case this past academic year, as our student-athletes performed exceptionally in the classroom. Student-athletes earned a cumulative GPA of 3.18, with 14 students earning a 4.0. Twelve of our 14 teams earned a team GPA of a 3.0 or higher, and two of those had a GPA over 3.5. We inducted 20 additional student-athletes into the Chi Alpha Sigma National Honor Society for Student-Athletes, and 67 of our students earned NEAC Scholar-Athlete recognition, the most in our history.

While our student and teams will not be competing this fall, we will support their academic and developmental growth, while continuing to explore just what we will do for their athletic team activities.

A special “thank you” to faculty and staff who have supported our students and employees since our return to campus following the closure. General Services has done incredible work to prepare our facilities, and our staff at the Dunham Children’s Learning Center has been here to care for the children of our students and employees.

2020 has been a challenging year thus far. In times like this, it is important that we keep our health and wellness a priority.

The 2020-21 Wellness BeHIP Incentive Program just started and runs through July 2021. It allows you to earn points for healthy options and earn a financial incentive by completing one of the four levels. I encourage you to find time to care for yourselves and your families through engaging in forms of healthy mental and physical activities.

If you are feeling anxious or stressed and need to talk to someone, you and your household members, as well as your children up to age 26 who may not reside with you, can use the confidential services through our Employee Assistance Program. These can be found through the Human Resources portal site or by contacting the Human Resources office for additional information.

Preparing for the return of students this summer and for the fall has been a collaborative team effort representing all areas of the college – using the expertise of the medical community, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

We are a hands-on college of technology, and we are preparing students for the essential fields. We are at our best when we are in-person.

You should be reading carefully our weekly Wednesday digest – “Real World Ready” – to get the up-to-the-minute information on key topics for all of us. Daily, you are getting COVID-19 information on testing.

Our commitment is to be as transparent as possible, while protecting the privacy rights of our students and employees. The COVID reopening page is continuously being updated to provide you with the information you need to be safe on campus and access the resources you need for the semester.

A special “thank you” to Joanna Flynn, Anthony Pace, Jennifer McLean and Mike Reed for their tireless work leading the reopening task force and “Victor,” a group that meets daily to address issues related to the pandemic and Penn College.

I hope you read yesterday’s digest edition. Some very plain language. It is critical that we all follow the expectations and model the behaviors we want our students to follow. If we do not, one careless act by a group of students or employees could shut us down.

If you are not feeling well, please stay home. Wear your mask and enforce mask wearing in your labs and classes. Your personal health and the health and welfare of your fellow employees and students depend upon your vigilance.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I walked around campus checking out some of the summer renovations and campus facilities. Unfortunately, I had to ask any number of faculty, staff and students to put on their masks. It is time for some very plain language.

A large team of people have worked countless hours since May 11 to help our students finish their spring classes and get ready for the fall semester.

Their time, hundreds of thousands of dollars and unbelievable creative and innovative work will all be for nothing if you each think you are not required to follow the rules.

  1. Do not come to work if you are feeling ill. We have had any number of employees attend work while feeling ill. Use the screening mechanism listed on our resources page or contact your physician.
  2. Masking is mandatory. If you are not 6 feet away from the next person, you need to have your mask on, and on correctly. “Correctly” is covering your nose and mouth. Half and half does not count. If you need a string, like I have to keep track of your mask, let me know. I will provide you with one.
  3. In limited instances, Penn College will work with students in at-risk categories to develop additional or alternate PPE or social-distancing guidelines to ensure the safety and comfort of others. Students interested in requesting an accommodation to the mask requirement should be referred to complete the Mask Policy Accommodation Request form located on the Portal. Once the form is completed, Disability Services will reach out to the student to discuss the request and possible options.
  4. Social distancing is really better named “physical distancing.” We need to be apart from one another. Small-group gatherings are fine; just allow space, meet outside and consider your colleagues.
  5. We have adjusted capacities, relocated classes to larger spaces, installed protections, purchased and provided PPE and cleaning supplies. We have revamped cleaning surfaces, fogged areas after hours, used ultraviolet light cleaning and conducted touch-point cleaning all day long.

None of this will matter if you are cavalier.

We paid everyone this past spring when we were remote, even those unable to work remotely. No one missed a paycheck, not even student workers. We invested more than $2.5 million in salary and benefits for employees who did not work. If we are forced to close, I cannot promise that will continue. We cannot afford to pay people for not working for a year.

I cannot begin to express how frustrating it is that your individual behavior could force a quarantine of an entire department, or impact your office colleagues and our students.

You hold the key.

So, when I ask you to put on your mask and you say you were “getting to it,” I am not amused. Hands-On/Masks-On is more than a clever saying.

Students and parents want a Penn College education. We made spring work, but it was not our finest hour. We can do this if we all take it seriously.

I will be walking this campus for the coming weeks and, yes, I will be stopping the staff, faculty and students who are without a mask. Why? Because I want to keep students safe and in classes; I want to keep employees safe and working/getting paid. I want our mission to be fulfilled. I am certain some of you are saying it is the money – trust me, it is not the money.

It is our mission, our purpose. We know, when forced to close in the spring, we had students with no place to live. They were going to be homeless. We had students with no food. Because we are the option for them; we are the best option for our students.

We educate essential professions. If we can’t do that right, who can?

I fully realize circumstances may happen that are beyond our control, but why not control what we can?

Speeding kills, drugs kill, violence kills, COVID kills – you, your loved ones, your friends. Protect yourself and others.

Your personal politics do not matter to me; your belief system is your own. But to make this work, you need to follow our rules.

Our lives for 2020 are forever changed. Let’s be certain we manage that change to the best of our ability. Be a role model to others and to our students.

During one of our commencement ceremonies, I used a quote from John Wooden. And the quote goes like this. It says, “Don’t get caught up in making a living and forget to make a life.”

I did a little homework Sunday evening and found out there’s a bit more to that quote that I think is really fitting for me to end with today.

“Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating,” coach Wooden said. “Too often, fathers neglect it because they get caught up in making a living and forget to make a life.”

I’m gonna modify that for Penn College.

“Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating.”

Let us not neglect that because we will then get caught up in making a living, not making a life and not making a difference for our students.

Thank you for your time today. And best of luck as we enter the fall semester.

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