Employee Recognition Brings End to 'Year of Opportunity, Hard Work'

Published 05.17.2007


(The following is drawn from remarks by Davie Jane Gilmour, Pennsylvania College of Technology president, during a May 17 all-college meeting to close the 2006-07 academic year.)

It is fitting that we end each academic year by honoring students, faculty and staff who distinguished themselves through their accomplishments.

During commencement ceremonies, we will honor students and distinguished full-time faculty. Today, we honor distinguished staff and part-time faculty. We also recognize employees who are retiring, as well as those marking 25 years of service to Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Employee Recognition
First, I'd like to introduce our distinguished part-time faculty for 2007. We are honoring two individuals with that award, beginning with Bruce A. Wehler, an instructor of English and speech communication since 1990.

Bruce holds bachelor's degrees in English and religion from Lycoming College, a master's degree in counseling and theology from Eastern Seminary, and a master's in special education/exceptionalities from Bloomsburg University. He is working on an additional master's degree in adult and distance education, as well as a doctorate in education at Penn State University.

He also is an English/special education/alternative education teacher in the Loyalsock Township School District; and a parent, stepparent, foster parent and grandparent.

With a busy schedule by anyone's standards, he still finds the time to be devoted to his students. A construction carpentry student who nominated him for the award said: "I could hardly believe how practical the material in this course was to me. His entire class was designed to make the individual student as ready as possible for any number of real-world experiences. The material was everything I needed to know that I didn't necessarily know I needed to know!"

Bruce, on behalf of all of the students both children and adults whose lives you touch, I present you with this 2007 Distinguished Part-Time Faculty Award.

Our other distinguished part-time faculty honoree is Michaeleen G. McNamara, instructor of psychology.

"Mickey" came to Penn College in 2004, after 35 years in health care and counseling. She holds a certificate from the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Center in Johnstown, a bachelor's degree in psychology from Bloomsburg University, and a master's in education from Bucknell University.

Her student nominator applauded her ethics, credibility, accessibility, and passion, stating: "Mickey has so much respect for the profession of teaching because she's so passionate about her work "¦ I would love to see her get this award for all the dedication she has put into teaching and in her field."

On behalf of that student and others, as well as your faculty and staff peers, I am pleased to present you with this 2007 Distinguished Part-Time Faculty Award.

And, now, our retirees: Scott Appleman, Bob Bowers, Rose Fagnano, Emerson Fairfax Jr., Leonard Filipkowski, Hortencia Garcia, Wayne Longbrake, Kathie Longbrake, Veronica Muzic, Anthony Nieli, Thomas Shoff, Dianne Spiegel, Glenn Spoerke, William Sprinsky, Charles Tacka and Paul Zell Jr.

It's no surprise that these faces and names are familiar to us: they represent more than 350 collective years on our campus. Six have spent more than 25 years with the college. Three Bob Bowers, Veronica Muzic and Tom Shoff spent more than 35 years. Bob Bowers tops the list with 41 years of service.

We offer a fond and heartfelt farewell to all of you, with thanks on behalf of the countless students and employees whom you have touched in your many years here.

Ladies and gentlemen, our retirees the "Class of 2007."

Next to be recognized are our newest inductees into the Quarter Century Club.

Now, a lot was going on in our world 25 years ago: As the oil market tightened, gasoline prices rose to $1.18 a gallon! Social Security deficits brought calls for reform to keep the fund solvent into the late 1980s. Britain and Argentina traded punches in the once-unheard-of Falkland Islands. John Hinckley was on trial for the attempted assassination of President Reagan. "Jane Fonda's Workout Book" was a best-seller and the movie industry was abuzz about a wrinkly extraterrestrial about to invade theaters.

At the same time, these individuals were joining our college family:

  • From Administrative, Professional and Technical staff Judy Fink, Jenny Maurer and Steve McDonald

  • From Classified staff Glenda Ferguson, Connie Hull and Judy Phillips From Service staff Alan Vittorio

  • And from faculty Adelle Dotzel, Ruth Hameetman, Sandra Lakey, Tom Livingstone and Bruce Smith

A round of applause please for our Quarter Century Club inductees

Finally, our Distinguished Staff Awards, which recognize excellence among APT, Classified and Service staff. Beginning this year, we also honor a part-time employee. I am proud to introduce you to the four distinguished staff members you have selected.

The distinguished APT staff member for 2007 is Jean M. Bremigen, operations manager at the Madigan Library.

Jean, like the majority of this year's staff honorees, is an alumna of the college. She has been employed here since 1995, when she became secretary to the School of Business and Computer Technologies. She later moved to the library, where she distinguished herself through the quality of her work and the generosity of her spirit.

One of her nominators said:"She has always displayed a can-do attitude that ensures the smooth daily running of the library. She has always been the "'go-to' person for library staff, who feel reassured when she is here."

Jean was credited by her co-workers for serving as one of the leaders in the successful transition to the new Madigan Library. She was in charge of ordering the Brodart furnishings including 17,000 linear feet of shelving.

One co-worker said: "Her problem-solving abilities and her "'college knowledge' are such great gifts to the library."

Jean, for deftly, diplomatically and pleasantly dealing with staff and student needs, we are proud to present you with this 2007 Distinguished Staff Award.

This year's distinguished Classified staff member is Gloria J. Hackenburg.

Gloria has served as secretary to the directors of occupational therapy assistant and surgical technology since 2005, when she returned to the college after working here from 1988-98. She has worked in a variety of fields including law, banking, the private sector and the Chamber of Commerce all good practice for the juggling act that she practices daily in a very busy academic office.

One of her nominators said: "Gloria performs a magic that makes the person requesting help whether that be employees or the public seem to be the only person she serves at that moment. Every caller can hear her smile, and has no question that her attention is sincere and warm."

Another said, "Gloria loves Penn College and treats this environment as warmly as her own family; gratitude and love for this institution shine through all of her work."

Gloria, it is our pleasure today to reflect some of that gratitude and warmth back onto you, in presenting you with this 2007 Distinguished Staff Award.

This year's distinguished Service staff member is another of our alumni -- Andrea L. Mull, horticulture/motorpool lead person.

Andrea received an associate's degree in horticulture from Williamsport Area Community College in 1987. A year later, she began her employment here as a groundskeeper. She went on to become a horticultural technician and horticulturalist, and she serves as one of General Services' dedicated crew of "snow removers". She and others keep the campus beautiful in every season.

One of her nominators said: "While maintaining the indoor plantscapes, Andrea has been known to stop what she's doing to attend to a more pressing need outdoors, field questions from college staff and students, and return to her previous tasks without skipping a beat "¦ and always with a friendly and positive attitude."

A great example of her creativity can be seen in the impressive water feature at the entrance to the Madigan Library, which was referred to in another nominator's statement: "Her perseverance and positive attitude were vital to ensure the completion of a project of this magnitude. We work in all types of conditions "¦ extreme summer heat, rainstorms, freezing temperatures and deep snow. Andrea's enthusiasm for her work rarely wavers. Her determination and motivation have far exceeded expectations."

Andrea, rest assured that you are among "all-weather friends" today. For making us look good all year round, we honor you with two thumbs up and green thumbs they are and this 2007 Distinguished Staff Award.

As I mentioned, this year marks the first time that we include a part-time employee among our staff awards. I am pleased to honor another alumni staff member as our inaugural recipient in that category: Carol E. Hall, regular part-time food services assistant.

Carol holds an associate's degree in business management from Williamsport Area Community College. She became a food services worker here in 2000.

A co-worker who nominated her for this award said: "Carol never hesitates to give a helping hand whenever she is needed "¦ she is always willing to tackle any challenge before her. She is someone who can always be counted on."

Another said: "She's very friendly, very supportive "¦ she will always dig right in and give us a hand. She goes wherever she is needed and never complains."

Carol, I am pleased to present you with the very first distinguished staff award for a part-time employee.

On behalf of our entire Penn College community students, faculty, staff and administration I want to thank all the individuals recognized today for setting a standard by which we all can work and live.

As one nomination form we received indicated, it is important that we make it our personal quest to serve our students to learn their names, and to offer them the assistance they need in a way that shows our personal concern and our professional commitment.

These individuals set the bar high for all of us. Please join me in congratulating our 2007 distinguished staff and part-time faculty, as well as our retirees and quarter-century club members.

Thank you, too, to the Distinguished Staff Awards Committee: Dale Henne, Jeri Moser, Susan Deuel, Barry Loner, Mary Jane Baier, Jennifer Hammond, Tom Wilson and Bill Martin.

Looking Back ... and Ahead
Another academic year has come to a close and we once again stand ready to reflect on our accomplishments and look to the future.

Our year was one filled with opportunity and hard work. The various work groups across campus made significant contributions to our success. We continue to explore marketing for both traditional and adult students. We reviewed our scholarship program and processes. A group is carefully studying and recommending changes to our employment processes; while the Matriculation Committee is reviewing and coordinating our message to prospective students.

Phase I of our online refresher harassment-prevention training continues. As of May 14, 468 employees have completed the training and only 104 remain. Please take the time, as this training is important to us personally and in our learning community.

We are pleased to welcome the employees from Workforce Development& Continuing Education back to campus, and joining them in the newest Penn College facility are the staff from the local Penn State office and our new colleagues from the Industrial Modernization Center. I look forward to having us tour that facility following our fall convocation.

Often, I am asked, what we can do to bolster enrollment in XYZ program or initiative. The answer is fundamental and yet powerful: The most important thing any of us can do is our jobs, paying attention to our interactions, our work accuracy and our willingness to go above and beyond.

This is the time of year for the celebration of our successes, but, candidly the time of year we see our failures as well. For the student, who was unsuccessful, did we do as much as we could to meet them halfway? Did they get sound advisement?When they were alone and quiet, in the residence hall or across campus, did we reach out to them as much as we could? Do we spend as much time focused on the success of our current students as we do recruiting for our next student?

These are, of course, rhetorical questions that can only be answered in our own processing of the year. If we are all being honest, the answer will likely be mixed. Most of the time, all of us do everything we can to enhance, promote or facilitate student success. There are, however, times when each of us would like a "do over" not always possible, but something we would not mind having now and then.

I am certain there are those members of the Virginia Tech community who would just about do anything for some "do over "time. Maybe to make a more positive statement to friends, classmates and faculty; maybe to reach out and help in a different way? Regardless, we have no such luxury in life and therefore we need to make every day and every encounter count.

We have a campus crisis plan and it is undergoing a complete review this summer. You can expect a good portion of our visit in August to be focused on our own safety and security plans.

We have, unfortunately, had to test those a number of years ago, but we need to address them again and make sure we are up to date with our approach, our technology and most importantly our communication to all members of the campus community.

As part of our continuous process to provide better service to our students, you may have seen across campus information on Higher One, a new refund process that will be implemented in the fall. This process is cost effective, and provides significant benefits to students.

Funds will be dispersed to student in a prompt, safe manner with choices on how to receive their refunds. The PCTOne card is not, I repeat, not a credit card. It is a debit card that is processed via the MasterCard network. The college does not permit credit-card companies to solicit students on campus, and we do not want to encourage student debt. You can only spend the money in your account with the card. When you are talking to students, please remind them not to throw away the card they receive and remind them to update their addresses via the Student Information System. Again, this will provide immediate access to refund money and this is not a credit card.

Your communication on this matter will be a huge help as we transition to this service for students.

Many of you are traveling this summer time for a high school reunion, a visit home to family and we have a program you are welcome to participate in if you are so interested (and we hope you will be). Backpacks have been put together to take back to your home high school or similar environments to share the message of Penn College.

You can get these by contacting the Admissions Office. Spread the word about Penn College and be part of the message about the college and our "degrees that work."

Next year will be here before we know it. When we begin the fall semester, we will find the Employee Portal in full swing; a review of our mission, vision and philosophy will get under way; we will be taking a careful look at our planning process and making recommendations for change; and rolling out a new budgeting process called base budgeting, just to name a few things on our horizon.

Today, we said goodbye to a number of employees and, over the summer, we will say farewell to another: Peter Hellerman, general manager of Le Jeune Chef, will be retiring later this summer and you can stay tuned for the send-off we are planning for this gentleman who has become the public face of our restaurant.

I have been awaiting this next announcement for a few months. Barry Stiger told me the news and I felt it was fitting to share with all today. If you were very astute and read all press releases by Joe Yoder & Co., or if you attended the event held recently for employee donors and you stayed for my remarks this will not be a surprise. But it is reason to celebrate. Take time to visit the donor wall in the Student and Administrative Services Center. You will see that Penn College employees moved up to the one-half-million-dollar mark.

Thank you. You are generous with your time and money, and our students the benefactors are very grateful.

Take time to refresh, to renew and to recharge as we move from our academic year mode to our summer mode not that we won't be busy Connections, summer campus, comeback days and the litany of planning meetings that find their way to our summer work will keep us busy throughout the summer months.

Thank you for all you do for our students and for each other.

Today, I leave you with this thought by an unknown author: "Excellence can be attained if you care more than others think wise, risk more than others think safe, dream more than others think is practical and expect more than others think is possible."

I wish you a summer of care, risk, dreams and expectations.