President Greets 'Excitement, Hectic Reality' of New Semester

Published 08.18.2005

President News
Faculty & Staff

(The following is drawn from remarks by Davie Jane Gilmour, Pennsylvania College of Technology president, during an Aug. 18 all-college meeting to open the Fall 2005 semester.)

The theme for Fall Orientation is "Right Where You Belong." I think it is a fitting theme for our start of a new academic year.

This is right where we all belong, making a difference for our students, for our community and for each other as we work tirelessly to further our vision and mission.

I would like to welcome all our new colleagues to Penn College, where I firmly believe people make the difference.

Please visit PCToday to meet the new members of our college community. For that matter, please visit PCToday on a regular basis. You will find a great deal of information on what is happening at the college; and the successes of our students, faculty and staff; just to name a few features.

We have had a busy summer.

Just wait until you see the new Food Services venue in the Campus Center: CC Commons, a wonderful new space with buffet service − a "must" for a visit. Thanks to Linda Sweely and Carolyn Strickland for their work with students to transform the former Bistro area.

Our campus looks beautiful: flowers, new plantings − overall, a wonderful sight. Thank you to all the staff at General Services; what a beautiful campus for us all to enjoy!

All across campus, summer work has been fast and, at times, furious:

  • Streamlining processes to better serve students in Financial Aid
  • Information Technology Services staff, installing new computers and new computer labs
  • Penn College Police, training and collaborating with the city
  • Faculty, planning and preparing for the start of the semester − and some spending their summer teaching what was record-high summer enrollment
  • Other staff strategizing, finalizing new initiatives, working on staffing − all the things necessary to begin the new academic year.

To all of you, I say "Thank you."

There are new programs and initiatives this fall sure to make a difference on our campus. The Honors Program begins, as does a pilot set of classes for the Freshman Year Experience. Different opportunities, yet both designed to enhance the opportunities for Penn College students.

In the community, it is important we are good neighbors and good community members. To that end, you may have read that we contributed $100,000 to the City of Williamsport for this academic year. This contribution is in lieu of our previous written agreement for a police cruiser and related contributions.

We found the city leaders asking for more − even with our written agreement − so we took a bold step and are making a contribution in monthly installments.

I asked the mayor for mutual respect and understanding of what we bring to this community. Williamsport is a better place because of you and our students. It is important, as partners, that the city recognize the benefits of our role in economic development and the overall prosperity of our region.

In early September, you will see that the work over the past year on the College Town initiative is resulting in action and events: Activities to entice students and employees downtown, and new banners recognizing Williamsport as a "College Town" are just a few of the things you can expect to see. Don't miss Penn College "Pack the Park Night" on Sept. 6. We have agreed to make it "College Town Pack the Park," and must not let the other colleges have more attendance than we do!

Veronica Muzic has announced her intent to retire in 2006. It goes without saying she will be impossible to replace. Her distinguished service as a Master Teacher and a consummate administrator − in a variety of roles − will create an incredible void at Penn College.

However, Veronica will be the first to tell me that we need to move on. To that end, we are conducting a national search with simultaneous internal and external advertising taking place. We learned from previous searches and are approaching the process in a very proactive manner.

Lucinda Stephens, Linda Morris and Wendy Cunningham have done an incredible job getting us ready for the September target date of recruitment. This position will have a Web page and an individual e-mail address, and a very specialized mailing will be sent to over 5,000 colleges and universities, in addition to some traditional advertising.

I am very pleased that Elizabeth Meyer and Tom Gregory have agreed to co-chair the search committee, with Brett Reasner, Jeff Weaver, Pat Martin, Fred Becker, Irv Siegel, Mary Sullivan and Dennis Correll serving as committee members.

While the screening process will be confidential, should you have questions about the search or the process, you are asked to contact the co-chairs or me directly. Members fully understand their confidentiality expectations and are not representing any group on the committee.

The interview process for this position will be very open and inclusive. Candidates will spend multiple days on campus, and virtually every employee and student will have the opportunity to meet the candidates should they so desire. Our target is on-campus interviews in late February and early March, with second campus visits in April.

This is a landmark decision for the college and I encourage you to participate when the time comes.

As you take inventory of what has changed on campus since May, you cannot help but see the incredible progress on the Roger and Peggy Madigan Library. The library staff and Lisette Ormsbee have worked very hard over the summer finalizing the plans for furnishings and furniture for the new library.

I want to thank the 98 employees who have contributed a total of more than $146,000 to our campaign − but we are not yet finished. I need to ask you to consider giving if you have not; we have submitted our application to the Kresge Foundation, and we continue to work with alumni and donors. I remain optimistic that, together, we can reach our goal.

PDC Spas has been very generous and donated three spas for us to use toward the Madigan Library campaign. This fall, we are raffling the first spa. Our goal is to sell 1,000 tickets and to raise $10,000. We need your help.

I met with the library staff earlier this week, and left that meeting excited about this project.

Tickets are available to buy at the library, College Store and Institutional Advancement Office. Tickets can be picked up to sell from the Institutional Advancement Office. Thank you in advance for your support and assistance with this project.

It is difficult to believe that the new library will be finished a year from now. Mark your calendars − Sept. 12, 2006, will be the dedication of what will be the most significant addition to our campus in our rich history.

To warm things up − no pun intended − on Sept. 12 this year, we will begin the 365-day countdown to the dedication. You will be invited to attend a "festival," where food, fun and general celebration will launch the countdown.

There is one catch: our admission tickets − yours and mine − will be a new children's book. There will be drop-off locations across campus and you can watch PCToday for information on the Countdown Festival.

By the way, our celebration marks the beginning of Literacy Week. The children's books we collect will be donated to our own Children's Learning Center and to nonprofit agencies in Lycoming County. Citizens in our community benefit from our library and the James V. Brown Library. When we heard of their struggles with their book fair, we approached them and offered to help.

Plans are being considered to hold a combined Book Fair on campus Nov. 5 − library helping library for the benefit of the community. Watch for more news and information on how and where you can help by making donations of books.

We often make the statement or hear someone say that our world is smaller than we think. This summer, I was reminded of this fact when I read an e-mail exchange I want to share with you.

WPTC plays jazz in the summer and a recent song request came from a former student stationed in Iraq. And I quote: "Yes, we requested a song. When no one else is in the office, my friend and I listen online. Feels kind of like home to hear commercials on the radio for things we know (and can understand). We're in Iraq, obviously, and it's really bad."

We make a difference even for those half a world away. We hope and pray for a safe return. And, in the meantime, I expect they will log on and listen to "home" whenever they can.

We lost an incredible man − a hard-working faculty member and a Master Teacher − this summer. Lamont Butters left this world far too soon. He will be missed.

Some of you are aware that I collect quotes, sayings and readings on leadership. If you were to sit facing my computer, you would find books and slips of paper I collect from just about anywhere with quotations and sayings that strike a chord. I found one, as I organized and cleaned out my desk this summer, that seems fitting at this time of year − by the Rev. Canon Hughes.

"When you are exasperated by interruptions, try and remember that their very frequency may indicate the valuableness of our life. Only the people who are full of help and strength are burdened by others people?s needs.

"The interruptions which we chafe at are the credentials of our indispensability.

"The greatest condemnation that anybody could incur and it is a danger to guard against is to be so independent, so unhelpful that nobody ever interrupts us and we are left comfortably alone."

As we go about our tasks for the coming weeks, we will face the excitement and the hectic reality of the start of a new year. None of us can afford to be comfortably alone, if we are to be part of the success that makes Penn College special.

We have a full agenda. We will do what we do best and, in the end, our students will be our legacy.

Have a great semester.