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Unpredictability paused for customary tribute to retirees

Observing tradition in a consistently fickle season, President Davie Jane Gilmour celebrated Penn College’s newest retirees and members of the Quarter Century Club on Monday afternoon. In deference to pandemic protocols, the occasion featured face masks and social distancing; the message, however, was a timelessly appropriate one: gratitude for the faculty and staff who are leaving (and leaving their mark upon) the college’s campuses. In a less-cautious atmosphere, the president said, she would have personally acknowledged each of the attendees with a handshake and embrace. Addressing the honorees, assembled on set-apart chairs across the Thompson Professional Development Center lawn, she assured all of them, “Consider yourself hugged.”

The following is drawn from President Gilmour’s June 29 remarks:

The president honors retirees, joined on the campus lawn by family members and co-workers.
The president honors retirees, joined on the campus lawn by family members and co-workers.

Poet/novelist Maya Angelou – who graced this campus with a March 1987 appearance at the Klump Academic Center – wrote what could readily be adopted as an anthem to our recent adversity: “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”

Although we’re only halfway through 2020, these past few months have tested us. Frustrated us. Exhausted us. It has at times seemed easier to disengage, to turn off the constant news of isolation, upheaval and division.

But, as is our tradition at Penn College, they have also united us. I will be forever proud of the way in which this community – rather than withdraw – has met hardship head-on. With a blend of innovation, sacrifice and adaptation, we not only kept this ship afloat, but made sure our students made it through uncharted waters and safely into port.

The ripples from the year to date are obvious in the revised format for this recognition ceremony, but we would be remiss if we did not make time to celebrate our employees – including those who are moving into the less-stressful days of retirement.

This academic year brings the departure of 47 faculty/staff co-workers with just over 1,000 years of combined service.

Nineteen have been with the college for more than 25 years, eight of them for more than 30, and one – LaDonna Caldwell, who may know every employee by sight AND by name – for more than 35. On this year’s list are a Master Teacher, two recipients of an Excellence in Teaching Award, two Excellence in Part-Time Teaching honorees, one award-winning academic adviser, and three employees on whom were conferred Distinguished Staff Awards.

Those present are asked to stand in place and be recognized as I read their names.

Barbara J. Albert
Eric K. Albert
Margaret A. Barbour
Lisa R. Bock
Linda L. Bower
Lawrence V. Burns
LaDonna J. Caldwell
Richard J. Calvert Jr.
Todd Campbell
Craig A. Cian
Nancy J. Cochran
Donna K. Culton
John R. Cuprisin
Linda S. Dellaquila
Kay E. Dunkleberger
Pamela Ellis
Donley F. Fisher
Crystal L. Follmer
Susan C. Hartranft
Gene L. Haupt
Thomas E. Kammerling
Mark J. Kieser
Kathleen A. Kelsey
Paul E. Mach
Stephen A. Manley
Thomas J. Matus
David E. Maurer
Michaeleen G. McNamara
Jerry W. McNett
Joseph A Miele Jr.
Sandra L. Miele
Deborah S. Neyhart
Diane C. Oeler
Gary T. Pandolfi
Michael K. Patterson
Eric D. Ranck
Ann V. Reichelderfer
Carol A. Rogers
Diane L. Smith
Marie Y. Stewart
Sandra R. Sullivan
Dana R. Suter
Richard C. Taylor
Mary Kay Wakefield
Bernadine M. Welickovitch
Timothy E. Weston
Janet L. Wool

Let’s acknowledge our 2019-20 retirees.

And if the following will remain standing:

Barb Albert
Rick Calvert
Donna Culton
Mark Kieser
Ann Reichelderfer

These are the newest members of the college’s Quarter Century Club. As I mentioned a few moments ago, this year has been a particularly challenging one, on this campus and across the globe. But if we look back at the 1994-95 academic year, the year in which these folks joined our family, we’ll find some heartening signs that life goes on:

  • The Village, our first foray into student housing, was under construction … as was The Victorian House.
  • Our first winter commencement was held in the ACC Auditorium.
  • The Diesel Technology Center, equipped by such friends as Caterpillar and Cleveland Brothers, was dedicated over the mountain … and an expanded and renovated Le Jeune Chef Restaurant was opened to the public.
  • The college joined the Pennsylvania Research and Economic Partnership Network, which facilitated email and Internet access among our students, faculty and staff.
  • A Workplace Literacy Grant helped the college’s Technology Transfer Center provide job-skills training to hundreds of factory employees.
  • And the Wildcats kicked off their first season of intercollegiate soccer competition.

All of those areas – Residence Life, hospitality outreach, electronic communication, Workforce Development, industry allies, Athletics, the very campus landmarks that lend familiarity to our workday – are alive and well, contributing to the daily vibrancy and relevance of Penn College.

And on top of it all – as the addition of winter graduation was eventually followed by an added ceremony in summer and expanded celebrations to accommodate the crowds each spring – we continue to send tomorrow makers into a world of gainful and meaningful employment. And if that’s not a silver lining to their silver anniversary year, I don’t know what is!

We honor these 25-year employees and our newest retirees for their cooperative role in telling our story … and, as we look ahead to a no-doubt-challenging fall, may they inspire us to clear every hurdle in our path to excellence and purpose.


– Photos by Cindy Davis Meixel, writer-photo editor (unless otherwise noted)


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