Our graduates’ role in the workforce is ‘essential’

So, too, is the philanthropic support they receive

As the 2019-20 Academic Year wound to a close – about the same time that the COVID-19 pandemic began to spiral all around us – the term “essential” took on new meaning for many.

Dr. Gilmour

In higher education, we sought governmental guidance about the essential operations we could continue to perform, the employees who would be permitted on campus, and the faculty and staff who should telework in support of those indispensable tasks.

As instruction and coursework pivoted from in-person to remote delivery, we adapted – we always do – but not before “flattening the curve,” “social distancing,” “contact tracing,” Zoom, Microsoft Teams and RemotePC all became part of our surreal new COVID vocabulary.

“Essential” may have taken on new connotations as we navigated through the uncharted territory that is the novel coronavirus, but we never lost sight of the original meaning associated with our unique educational mission.

My messaging throughout the pandemic has reflected our moral obligation to provide a safe, secure environment in which students can learn; our ethical obligation to provide the best possible educational outcomes for students and their families; and our professional obligation to deliver future leaders – in essential professions – to the workforce and our industry partners.

The job-ready “tomorrow makers” we provide for these always-in-demand occupations set us apart from our peers. It is why we never shirked our responsibility or shrunk from the overwhelming challenges posed by the pandemic. Like our graduates, we are problem-solvers. We take genuine pride in finding ways to adapt and persevere in the face of adversity.

We also know that we cannot go it alone.

Philanthropy, in the form of scholarship assistance and related institutional support, is also essential. Without this crucial investment in our educational mission, we simply cannot deliver fully on our promise to students, stakeholders and employers.

On behalf of the college, I extend my sincere gratitude to all those who believe in our tomorrow makers – and in the returns we reap from our strategic partnerships. In 2019-20, financial commitments from alumni, corporate partners, employees, friends and parents totaled $8,258,452.

Just for a moment, allow me to speak as an individual from the above-mentioned group, who gives to Penn College because I see it as a sound investment in the future.

My parents were my earliest educational and philanthropic role models. They encouraged me to read a bit of everything: newspapers, novels, journals. My reading pile today is never wanting. Philanthropically, they were involved in our community as long as I can remember; they volunteered their time and treasure.

My teachers and elementary school principal were great influencers, too. When I was in third grade, our principal organized a “bank day,” when we brought our money to school, and the “bank lady” came to record it in our passbook. We watched her add interest and saw our investment grow. It was a great lesson in finances at an early age.

When I give to Penn College, I believe I am contributing to the future of our community in every sense. There is no greater reward than watching a student succeed. No words can describe how I feel at each and every commencement. I crave the student interaction and the opportunity to learn what amazing things our graduates will be doing in their communities and the world for years to come.

In my 43 years of serving Penn College students, I take great comfort in our educational foundation and our time-tested strategy. I know the contributions I make will help fund the goals and aspirations of the next generation of tomorrow makers.

I share my philanthropic sentiments to demonstrate the clear and meaningful return I receive for my charitable investments in Penn College. My hope is that I will inspire you to pursue your own philanthropic passions.

In this Impact Report, you will read about how philanthropy, in the form of contributions, in-kind gifts, planned giving, industry partnerships and more, benefits a full range of deserving student-centered initiatives on campus.

When you give to Penn College, you are helping us tackle the vital work of our innovative community. The state, the nation and the world need us to keep delivering on our promise. How will you help us transform tomorrow? More than ever, in these unprecedented times that have tested us all, your support is absolutely essential to our success.

Thank you,

Davie Jane Gilmour Signature

Davie Jane Gilmour, Ph.D., president, Pennsylvania College of Technology