Faculty/Staff Recognition Marks Close of 'Incredible' Year

Published 05.14.2009

President News
Faculty & Staff

(The following is drawn from remarks by Davie Jane Gilmour, Pennsylvania College of Technology president, during a May 14 all-college meeting to close the 2008-09 academic year.)

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

During our three commencement ceremonies on Friday afternoon, Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon, we will honor students and distinguished, full-time faculty.

Today, we honor distinguished staff and part-time faculty.

We also recognize employees who have retired or are planning to retire before the end of this academic year. And we will induct new members of the Quarter Century Club, as they mark 25 years of service to the college.

Faculty/Staff Recognition
First, we will honor our retirees. This year, our retirees leave us with more than 500 years of combined service. Ten of our retirees were employed here for more than 30 years.

The longest-serving retiree this year is Don Nibert, who joined the faculty in 1968 when a gallon of gas cost 34 cents. It was the year McDonald's sold the first Big Mac and CBS launched a new program called "60 Minutes," proving all good things are timeless.

I'd like to ask all of the retirees who were able to join us today to come to the stage as I call their names.

Please remain on the stage, so we can applaud the entire group.

Marcia Campbell, Leslie Caputo, Rita Cillo, Barbara Danko, David Dietrick, Dennis Fisher, James Fox, Kathleen Gudgel, Robert Gudgel, Sharon Hoffmann, Connie Hull, Kathryn Jerald, H. David Kepner, Janice Kuzio, Richard Manny, Linda Metzger, Joseph Mignano, Jack Murphy, Donald Nibert, Thomas Rider, Chester Schuman, Pamela Starcher, Bonnie Taylor, M. Keith Wynn and James Young.

We wish you all the very best and, on behalf of the many students and employees whose lives you have touched, we say, "Thank you."

Please join me in honoring our retirees for 2008 and 2009.

Next, we will recognize our newest inductees into the Quarter-Century Club.

A lot was going on in our world 25 years ago. It was 1984 but not quite the 1984 George Orwell wrote about (we don't believe "Big Brother" was really watching us). But, it was an interesting world in 1984.

Ronald Reagan was president. The Dow Jones closed the year at 1,211; Federal Reserve interest rates were at 10.75 percent. A gallon of gas was $1.10, $350 would cover an average month's rent and a new Dodge Ram truck cost about $9,000.

Technology was changing lives. The AIDS virus was identified. DNA profiling was developed. The first commercial CD players were introduced and Sony made the first 3½-inch computer disk.

We were making progress.

We paid $2.50 for a ticket to the movies to see films like "Ghostbusters," "The Terminator" and "Terms of Endearment" (which won the Academy Award). "Hill Street Blues," "Dynasty," "Fame" and "Cheers" were among our television favorites. And, we were quoting a little old lady who dared to ask the question, "Where's the beef?"

Twenty-five years go by very quickly. Today, it is a pleasure to honor these individuals who joined the college family in 1984. I ask them join me on stage as I call their names and remain until all of our new Quarter-Century Club members are on stage to receive our applause.

From Administrative, Professional and Technical staff: LaDonna Caldwell, Steve Campbell, Charles Duda, Harry Rall and LuCinda Stephens.

From Service staff: Max Charles and Louis Myers.

And from Faculty: Marilyn Bodnar, Alan Buck, Suzann Major, Judith Shimp, James Temple and Thomas Zimmerman

Would you give a round of applause, please, for our Quarter-Century Club inductees?

Next, I'd like to introduce our 2009 distinguished part-time faculty member: JoAnn Pacenta.

Jo-Ann teaches accounting in the School of Business and Computer Technologies.

Jo-Ann, please join me on stage as I read descriptions provided by your nominators.

They said:

"Jo-Ann's commitment to students and their success is most obvious relative to office hours.

She holds many more than the required one hour per class."

"When she is in her office, the door is open and students are there at her side, working with her.

Rarely do I walk by her office and not see a student working with her."

And "In addition to the normal assignments, she uses projects and cases so that her students have a chance to develop their higher-level learning skills and, because of this approach, there is a great deal of interaction within the classroom environment between the students and Joann."

Please join me in congratulating Jo-Ann Pacenta, our 2009 Distinguished Part-Time Faculty Award Winner.

Now, we will present our 2009 Distinguished Staff Awards, which recognize excellence among Classified, Service and APT staff. I am proud to introduce you to three very distinguished staff members, who will join me on stage as I call their names.

Our distinguished Classified staff member is Marion C. Mowery, residence life assistant.

Marion joined the college in 2006 as a temporary full-time residence life assistant and has worked in that office ever since. Her principal nominator said, "Marion often, on her own initiative, goes out of her way to make sure she can help an individual student and does a great job representing the college."

It was further noted that, "Marian's positive personality and commitment to excellence are a great asset to the Residence Life program and to the college as a whole."

She also has been recognized by the personnel of the Milton Hershey School for her outstanding service to this group of students.

Please join me in congratulating Marion Mowery.

For the first time since the awards program began, a Distinguished Staff Award is being presented to a past recipient.

Lou Myers, shipping and receiving lead worker, is our distinguished Service staff member for 2009.

In endorsing his nomination, one of Lou's colleagues noted, "He is a co-worker who truly dedicates himself to providing effort and service of the highest order." Another nominator noted that Lou has been "one of the most conscientious employees with whom I have ever had the opportunity to work."

Lou was the first recipient of the Distinguished Staff Award in the Service category in 1996.

Please join me in congratulating Lou Myers our first returning distinguished staff member.

Our distinguished APT staff member is Linda M. Morris, director of human resources/employment EEO. Unfortunately, Linda could not join us today and will receive her award at the Fall 2009 Convocation ceremony.

On behalf of our entire Penn College community students, faculty, staff, and administration I want to thank the individuals recognized today for setting a standard of excellence that serves as an inspiration to others.

Please join me once again in congratulating our 2009 distinguished staff and part-time faculty, as well as our retirees and Quarter-Century Club members.

Recapping "˜Quite a Year'
The end of another academic year is upon us. It seems trite to say it is once again hard to believe another year has passed. This has been quite a year: some incredible accomplishments, opportunities and some incredible sadness. It is difficult to imagine we lost six colleagues since last May: David London, Cherie Davison, Jack Quinn, Tom Walker, Mary Beth Saar and Bill Ealer. Each left his or her mark on us and this place. We will certainly miss them all.

What kept us all going during those challenging times was our work and there was no shortage this year. Stage X conjures up all kinds of thoughts.

For Bill Martin, Walt Nyman and Andy Richardson: progress, headaches and paperwork. For Don Praster, Bill Mack, Cliff Coppersmith, Jeff Vetok, Colin Williamson and Steve Wallace: progress, setbacks and ever-changing challenges. For the science, automotive and welding faculty: extra work, surprises and fill in the blank. Where will my office, class or lab be today? Will I have a wall? Will I have dust? What is next? How big is my trailer? For the architecture and media arts faculty, a pack-your-boxes-and-clean-out opportunity of a lifetime. And for Don Luke and the General Services crew, Stage X meant trailers, moving mountains in hours or days, responding to issues before, during and after they happen, and, for the next few weeks, working as hard as we have ever asked them. Penn College Police think of one-way streets and parking lots, here and gone and ever-changing locations.

Thank you to all. Each of you serves as an important piece in the puzzle. I am going to design a T shirt and note paper: "I survived Stage X." You have earned them and we have only just begun!

In case you think that is all we have been doing, look around. Our students have had incredible success in their co-curricular and extracurricular activities. Our athletic performance is excellent, and this weekend we could find ourselves with national championship archers.

Academically, our students continue to distinguish the college. The senior project work of our students is remarkable. First, if you understand them especially those in Industrial and Engineering Technologies you are ahead of the game. Second, they have been life-changing for many. Faculty can be very proud of their students' accomplishments.

One year ago, we announced the employee exhibit being held in the Madigan Library gallery. I remind all of you that the opening is today (from 4-7 p.m.) and the exhibit runs until June 30. Please take time to see what wonderful talent is represented.

All the while, outside of Penn College, there is this "economic issue facing our world." The budget was cut 6 percent and the future appropriation remains uncertain. But I told you in January and again in March it was my intent to maintain employment for everyone and to give salary increments to all eligible employees. The budget for next year is in final draft form and we did it. It was not my doing, but all of you working together with your cost-center administrators. We are positioned to make it work. We were able to eliminate over $800,000 of personnel costs without one person losing his or her job at Penn College. Thank you on behalf of our students. It was for them and their tuition dollars that we made it work. Our work is not done. Enrollment looks better than it did in March, but, candidly, not as good as it should. Each of us needs to continue to assist in any way possible to recruit and retain students. Retention will be a big item for us to borrow from Buzz Lightyear "to infinity and beyond." Retention is not something you can focus on today and ignore tomorrow; we must make it part of our culture. We do many things to help and assist with retention and there is more to do. Some of what we do will be changed, some new things will be added, we will make choices about what works and what does not, but we need to weave this concept into our everyday work and teaching. To assist us with our retention efforts, we have applied for a nationally recognized program Foundations of Excellence. Should our application be successful, this will be a campuswide activity, and I look forward to sharing the specifics when we return in the fall.

We are gearing up for our Middle States review in 2012 and, by convocation, I anticipate announcing our co-chairs, steering committee and timeline for the self-study. This is a collegewide endeavor and one that has been beneficial for us in the past and will most certainly be advantageous to us as we look to the future.

Our search for a new vice president for academic affairs and provost is under way. I am pleased to report that we have seven excellent candidates and interviews are being scheduled. Please watch the portal for interview schedules, process updates and resumes. Faculty, staff and student participation in the process is very important and, while some of you are obligated with other activities this summer, I do hope many of the faculty and campus community will make it a priority to fully participate. We expect the process to be ongoing through most of the summer, and you can expect candidates to have multiple visits to campus. The process is open, collegial and comprehensive.

There will be time to say goodbye to Liz Mullens as she departs for a return to her roots and first love: teaching at Tennessee Tech. Liz, you will be missed.

One of the lasting gifts Liz gave to me or, should I say, us was her recommendation that we participate in the Great Places to Work survey process sponsored by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Thank you to all who participated. I am so proud of our response rate 66.5 percent, which is excellent and I am truly grateful for the time you took to respond. Now the inside joke is that to parallel the survey you all responded to, there was an Institutional Survey of no less than 17 pages when ours was completed. I confess to have groaned a bit through the process, but I can tell you I was glad I did the deed. It has been a long time too long since I carefully and very thoroughly answered detailed questions of our benefits, etc.; a great exercise and one that we should all do from time to time. Rankings will be released in July, in addition to the results. I am confident we can improve our work life, and your feedback is valuable. Again, I thank you.

Student Government had a banner year this year, not only from its activities, but its Student Legacy Fund was increased by more than $5,000. Great work by our student leaders and a great standard set for future leaders.

What can we expect for 2009-10 academic year? First, we will celebrate our birthday: July 1, 2009. Pennsylvania College of Technology will be 20 years old. For those of us in the room who remember the sponsorship crisis, the "I survived the merger" tablets, it is very difficult to believe 20 years have passed. Are you ready for this? We are using our 20th anniversary as our Countdown to the Centennial. In 2014, we collectively, all previous iterations of this higher-education institution will be 100 years old. We will begin now to plan for that Centennial Celebration and look to mark that moment in history with activities that distinguish us in a place all our own. You can expect to hear the tallies on graduates, students and success stories that span generations. I, for one, look forward to documenting what a difference our predecessors and we make in the lives we touch.

Now, one of my summer pet peeves is when people in the community say, "What do you do with your summer off?" Frankly, I have had that peccadillo even as a faculty member. We all, everyone in this room well, except for the retirees works between now and Fall Convocation. Some will spend the majority of the summer on campus working with Connections, summer athletic camps, and preparing facilities and materials for the coming academic year. Others of you will spend the summer exploring new ideas, concepts, techniques and information that you can use in your classes and laboratories come fall. Regardless, we do all need time to recharge, rest a bit and remember there are more than 6,600 students counting on us to be the best we can be and make a difference for them when they walk through the doors in August.

Take time to enjoy the summer and your families, and, remember: As an institution, we are only as good as we are individually.

Each and every one of us makes a difference daily and we need to be fully committed to our mission and our students. I look forward to seeing you in August and leave you with this quote from Henry Ford: "Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success."