President Foresees Year of 'Unprecedented Development, Change'

Published 08.15.2002

President News
Faculty & Staff

(The following is drawn from remarks by Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour, Pennsylvania College of Technology president, during a College-wide meeting to open the Fall 2002 semester.)

"I am a great believer of luck. The harder I work, the more luck I have."

Thomas Jefferson

Good morning.

I most certainly agree with Jefferson: Hard work is really the key to success, but, without a doubt, a sprinkle of luck across the landscape is always welcome.

We have been most fortunate We are facing a year of unprecedented development and change. I am pleased to have the opportunity to share a snapshot of the coming academic year with you today.

Our annual plan of Major Institutional initiatives is certainly aggressive, yet well within our reach. What would an all-College meeting be without the mention of the M group Middle States.

We received the most wonderful news from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. We were reaffirmed, we have no interim reports to complete and we were commended for our progress from the last self-study and for the quality of our report. Once again, thank you to Doreen Shope and Tom Gregory for their work on the process and to the countless faculty, staff and students who made the initiative successful.

We will now operationalize our own recommendations and the one recommendation from our site visit. That work already is under way, and I look forward to our improving with every step we take to fully realize our goals.

Continuing professional and staff development has been a personal priority for me since becoming president. I am very pleased with our progress to date and I encourage you to watch for the monthly offerings made available to all staff. In addition, this year we will be piloting a supervisors' training program

What a difference a summer makes the Student and Administrative Services Center is really moving along. Interior walls are being painted, cabinetry is on-site, and the building is really taking on the image and work space we had intended. The staff moving into those offices are as amazed as I am with the size of the space. And the views Jim McMahon will have the best view on campus!

We have a great deal of work ahead of us the holiday season will be punctuated with moving the mainframe computer and overall computer infrastructure for campus. For some, the holiday will be "very short." We expect to move the final office into the new building on Jan. 29, and you can look forward to a dedication ceremony in early February.

What a difference this will make for our students and for the Academic Center. We have already made a preliminary walk-through, and the much-needed office space and classrooms are coming into focus.

All over campus, the retrofitting will yield much-improved space utilization. The process will, at times, be tedious and no doubt challenging, but the end results will certainly be worth the efforts.

Bid opening is today for the next phase of student housing and in September for the former HON building. I can assure you that the faculty and staff have worked very hard on both projects, and the results are expected to be phenomenal. I want to thank them for their time this summer to plan, review and review again the specifications.

I am certain you will be impressed as you see the architect's design to "connect" the former HON site to our campus. A rerouting of College Avenue and an expansion of our parking to the west of campus will fully complement these projects. Contractors' interest is running very high in the projects and we can use some of that "Jeffersonian" luck when the bids are opened today.

On-campus marketing - the concept is simple and it works. We know that, if we bring prospective students to campus, we stand a far-greater chance of facilitating their matriculation.

This year, we expect to make resources available to schools to bring groups of students, teachers and parents to campus to expand our on-campus marketing.

Noncredit programming has undergone a significant shift on campus since our community college days. Whether avocational, business and industry-focused, consulting, technology or basic skill-focused, the changes have been dramatic and beg the question: "What is the direction for the future. Through this initiative, we will examine the role and effectiveness of noncredit education as related to our mission then define a path in the marketplace for Penn College noncredit education.

Thank you for an incredible summer the School deans; assistant deans; Advisement Center staff; Career, Academic Support and Counseling staff; and many others worked tirelessly to advise and schedule the many students attending Penn College this fall.

All indications are that we are poised for record enrollment up more than 6 percent over last year, as of today.

Some say because our tuition increase was the lowest in the Commonwealth, others say because our majors and facilities are second to none. Still others attribute the enrollment growth to our focus on the student and the teaching-and-learning environment. I, for one, say it is all of those and more. We have matured into a college that puts teaching, learning and students first. We manage our resources well and we keep our mission central to our work - who could ask for any more?

Thank you to the General Services staff, which worked countless hours to ready the residence halls, many projects on campus on all campus locations. In addition, Information Technology Services staff upgraded laboratories, added an open computer lab and expanded our bandwidth, in addition to countless projects for many offices.

Thank you to those staff on campus who hosted the Governors Institute for Mathematics Teachers, the Make-a-Difference Conference, the Youth Career Awareness program and the many other summer visitors to our campus.

It is almost unbelievable to me, but we are approaching the anniversary of Sept. 11. I can too vividly recall standing in my office watching on television as the second plane crashed into the World Trade Center. We will commemorate the anniversary on campus and again provide the site for a community event that evening. Please watch PCToday for the announcement of the day's remembrances.

E-commerce is alive and well on campus -this fall, there were more than 1,000 online bookstore orders and more than 46,000 hits on the Student Information System from July 1-Aug. 13, with students tracking their bills, grades and schedules. Look forward to even more enhancements to online services at Penn College.

You may recall reading in various e-mail and PCToday messages that, as a result of a recommendation from College Council, ID cards are now available for all employees full- and part-time.

In addition, a number of groups of employees will visibly be wearing their ID cards on a regular basis. This should help you identify the person or persons you are working with across campus. This new protocol was a result of a professional-development session last spring.

Information Technology Services, General Services, Shipping and Receiving, and student workers all now can be identified by their ID on a daily basis.

I promised a comprehensive campaign to enforce the College's smoking policy - in particular, at entrances to buildings. Thanks to Elliott Strickland, we are officially launching our C.A.R.E, program today:

Creating A Respectful Environment

CARE about others CARE about our grounds CARE about yourself EVERYONE should care.

You will soon see new signage for doors, new ashtrays with our slogan, smoking-cessation programs for those who wish to participate, Student Government Association and Residence Hall Association sponsoring a program to get the message out to students, buttons, table tents we will do whatever it takes to C.A.R.E.

New Student Orientation begins Friday and continues through the weekend. We are expecting a huge turnout we now have over 2,900 people registered and we expect as many as 600 more registrations on-site. Thank you in advance to those who park in reserved spaces of the Lifelong Education Center for the voluntary move of your car to accommodate student move-in at the Village. Remember, all offices will be closed to student traffic beginning at 3 p.m. Friday, with the formal new student convocation ceremony beginning at 4:30 p.m. on the mall.

Often, we hear that parents play a key role in college selection; just as often, we know all too well that parents sometimes interfere in the educational experience and take advocacy to a new level. What we know for certain is that parents are a wealth of untapped information for us. Beginning with this year's Parents and Family Weekend on Sept. 27-29, we have initiated a parents committee. Our intent is to use this group in an advisory capacity on such topics as Parents and Family Weekend, admissions presentations and pre-enrollment processes and activities, to name a few.

While our community was unfortunate to have experienced the downsizing and closing of businesses, I am pleased to tell you that over 170 students are attending Penn College this fall, sponsored by Trade Adjustment Act funding. In addition, 93 of these students are eligible for the 12-credit scholarship available to qualifying students if they persist and complete their degree. It is important that we give back to our community -- and providing this opportunity does just that.

"The talk you hear about adapting to change is not only stupid, it's dangerous. The only way you can manage change is to create it."

Peter Drucker

You certainly will see a change in our marketing, advertising and our printed materials. We have followed Drucker's advice and created our change.

After a long and, at times, challenging year, the new team designers and technicians from the Web world, print world and television/video world have produced world-class materials.

They spent considerable time on the design, test marketing, working with focus groups and refinement of the design, colors and final products.

Why orange and blue, you ask? Let me tell you and as the art faculty in the room know, color is important blue means serenity, tranquility, dependability, consistence and reliability orange means excitement, warmth and good cheer albeit the most misunderstood color.

The combination of blue and orange results in "aggressive, lively and friendly," just the image we want to convey to prospective students and their families. We also know from the market research that "degrees that work." is one of the best identifiers for Penn College. With that in mind, we have launched our new campaign a campaign that will run for two years, including a two-year catalog.

There are many exciting features that you will want to hear more about on all of these materials and related materials used to recruit new students to Penn College over the next year. I invite you to go to PCToday starting tomorrow morning to view brief video clips that serves as a kind of tutorial describing the new materials and how they will be used in recruitment and marketing.

I want to recognize the entire team of designers, technicians and printers, who, under the leadership of Elaine Lambert, Jim Cunningham and Jennifer McClean, produced these extraordinary materials.

In addition, Jason Morgan, a Graphic Design student, created the "virtual tour" on the CD. Chris Legarski, a Graphic Design student, created some of the graphic and digital-media elements of the CD.

Erin Savrock, a student in Office Technology (Executive Emphasis), listened to and transcribed all of the student and alumni interviews for the close captioning of the CD.

And Joe Tertel, a Graphic Design alumnus, assisted in the layout and link of the online catalog pages located on the CD.

Matt Sprinsky made major contributions to the Web design and redo.

Special thanks to Elaine for her tireless coordination, negotiation skills and perseverance with multiple projects that, at times, seemed unreachable.

Whether it is taking properties off of the tax rolls or expanding student housing, we have had our fair share of community questions or criticisms. Regrettably, not everyone sees the benefit of 7,000+ students in our community from Penn College and Lycoming College. But some do, and I am convinced that, in working with Lycoming president Jim Douthat and the Chamber of Commerce, we will be successful in enhancing - or some even say creating the reality that Williamsport is a college town. To that end, you will find the two colleges working together on any number of projects joint advertising in national publications, joint sponsorship of community activities and our first venture printing the "Welcome, students" signs that will be distributed to merchants throughout the City of Williamsport. It is a step forward and one we are glad to take with Lycoming College.

Our board of directors meets Aug. 22 and, at that meeting, I will ask for the approval of a new Vice President-level position Vice President for Student Affairs. We have a well-established student life program and we are ready to take it to the next level of connectedness with academic affairs and a true holistic look at all students, residents, non-residents, traditional and nontraditional. I am very pleased that Elliott Strickland will be serving as Interim Dean of Student Affairs to position the work unit for this new leadership. Veronica Muzic and Bill Martin will co-chair the search committee. David London, faculty member and former Chair of College Council; Jessie Viani, president of SGA; and Elliott Strickland will serve on the search committee. Once the Board has taken action on the new position, we will begin our national search.

The College Board has taken a new direction this year and suggested that all prospective students ask five questions when touring or visiting colleges. In your mailbox Friday, you will get the answers to these questions and the "substance" behind the answer. This is a time when facts are important so, whether you are an admissions recruiter, student ambassador, faculty member, General Services staff member or school dean, you will have access to the accurate and comprehensive answers.

Please take time to become familiar with the information. Please do not make copies and hand out the answers interacting with prospective students and their families is the best way to respond to the questions. My final "please" is do not guess; if you do not recall the answer, find it or find someone who knows.

Traditionally, I would now begin to introduce the new employees to the group and the existing employees who have had changes in position, title and responsibility.

As you might expect with record enrollment expected, we have seven pages of new and transferred employees. I encourage you to visit PC Today to meet the new employees and learn of the staffing changes that have taken place since we last met. Hopefully, by next fall's convocation, I can share photographs of the new employees with you, to assist us all in welcoming them to the Penn College community. Please take time to review the information on PCToday and welcome our new colleagues.

Before I conclude my remarks today, I want to take a moment to remember one of the best Penn College had to offer our students. Whether teaching "Masters of Horror" or "Developmental English," Peter Dumanis truly was a "Master Teacher." We lost him this summer, far too soon. I, for one, will be having a Hershey bar on Monday, taking a few minutes to reflect on how lucky I was to have known Peter.

"No one ever attains very eminent success by simply doing what is expected of them: It is the amount and excellence of what is over and above the required that determines the greatness of ultimate distinction."

Vince Lombardi

A veteran faculty member sent me this quote. I suspect he may not recall even sending me the message, but I have kept it since May 19, 2000. From my seat, this epitomizes what Penn College is all about. We collectively work above and beyond to make Penn College a success.

I ask you to each commit to a distinguished year at Penn College. Go above and beyond the expectations and do more than you did yesterday. You will be surprised how good you feel, and what a difference you make for our students and for your colleagues.