Centennial Project Documents 'Legacy of Leaders'
by Elaine J. Lambert, director of college information and community relations, author of "Legacy of Leaders." Photos courtesy of the Penn College Archives.
A tribute to the institution's past and present leaders – "visionaries who … earned national acclaim for bold experimentation in forging lasting connections between education, government and industry" – was published in 2012.
"Legacy of Leaders" is a 120-page book that chronicles the experiences of chief administrators from Williamsport Technical Institute's founding director, George H. Parkes, to the current Pennsylvania College of Technology president, Davie Jane Gilmour.
The book shares information from the Roger and Peggy Madigan Library Archives and from videotaped oral history interviews conducted by Tom Speicher, writer/video editor, and Daniel J. Doyle, professor emeritus and Master Teacher.
"Each of these individuals was there at the right time for this institution."
Archived, audiotaped interviews, conducted with Parkes nearly a half-century ago, revealed previously unpublished details about the institution's formative years.
"We got our start in the coal bins, in the basement of the present Klump center," he said.
From its start as a vocational program of the Williamsport Area School District (1914-41) through years as a technical institute (1941-65) and community college (1965-89) to present status as a special mission affiliate of Penn State, the institution was led by men and women with diverse backgrounds and interests.
Over the course of the last century, the leaders elevated this unique institution of higher learning from its roots as a local adult-education program to a position of national acclaim. Each leader paved a ntew path and encouraged new ways of thinking about the future.
In "Legacy of Leaders," Robert G. Bowers, professor emeritus, Master Teacher and former executive assistant for internal affairs, described the diversity of leaders who followed Parkes: "Kenny Carl, father. Bill Feddersen, enabled transition to a full community college. Bob Breuder, builder and enabler of Pennsylvania State University relationship. Davie Gilmour enabled continued growth, support, and respect. And I think – if you think about the history of each of these people – each of these individuals was there at the right time for this institution."
In the 2012 publication, Gilmour shared her confidence in the college's legacy and its future: "We'll have different challenges and different opportunities, but this place will go on forever. There will be new leaders and there will be new marks of distinction and there will be new, significant accomplishments we haven't even thought of yet."
The book is available for purchase from The College Store on campus or online. Portions of taped interviews with the institution's leaders, as well as personal memories shared by alumni, retirees and others, and a timeline of historic events, are offered at oca.pct.edu/centennial.
Purchasing copies of "Legacy of Leaders" and other books in the Countdown to the Centennial series ("Were You There? The Evolution of a College Campus," released in 2010, and "Marketing With a Mission," released in Fall 2013) – will honor the institution's past and help fund scholarships for Penn College students. Net proceeds will become permanently restricted funds that will be invested to create income used for annual scholarship awards from the Penn College Endowed Alumni Scholarship.