Reception celebrates donors' generosity, president's legacy
Commenting at Monday evening's Donor Recognition Reception on the absurdity of receiving a pollen alert and a winter weather advisory on the same April day, President Davie Jane Gilmour moved on to something equally astounding but far less rare: affirmation of the philanthropy that allows Pennsylvania College of Technology students to pursue their passions and hone the skills needed to transform tomorrow.
"Your generosity is empowering students to experience firsts of all kinds: a first opportunity to study a subject they love, first international travel, a first chance to compete on a national stage, the opportunity to serve in our Student Government Association," said the president, who is retiring in June after more than four decades of service to the institution as a faculty member and administrator.
"I’ve had several milestone moments throughout my presidency and this year certainly tops the list, both professionally and personally. For 45 years, I’ve advocated for our life-defining, applied technology education. I’ve done my best to live out a 'hands-on presidency' to ensure our students would have meaningful opportunities to achieve their educational and professional goals," Gilmour continued.
"Witnessing countless individuals come together to strengthen the Penn College Legacy for current and future students is truly a remarkable gift, one that humbles me. I’ve always said that people make the difference and that holds true today. Thank you for making a difference for our students and future generations."
The president was introduced by Loni N. Kline, vice president for college relations and chief philanthropy officer, who also shared a video highlighting the "incredible impact" of contributions from alumni, corporate partners, employees, parents and friends of the college.
"I’d like to take a moment to thank you, Dr. Gilmour. Our future is bright because of your vision, your steadfast leadership, your own personal philanthropy and your commitment to community and most importantly, our students," Kline said. "You are Penn College, through and through."
The night’s honorees, newly added to the Donor Recognition Wall or moving to a higher level of giving (*) are:
Millionaire’s Society ($1 million+)
Cleveland Brothers Equipment Co. *
Golden Society ($500,000 to $999,999)
Allan Myers Inc.*
Visionary Society ($100,000 to $499,999)
The Brook J. Lenfest Foundation Inc.*
Donald M. Cunningham
The Hartman Group*
David and Lynda Livingston*
Olympus Scientific Solutions Americas
The family of John and Eva Pellegrino*
Elliott and Carolyn Strickland*
Susquehanna Valley Corvette Club Foundation*
Marshall Welch III*
Worth & Company Inc.
Heritage Society ($50,000 to $99,999)
Automation Systems Interconnect Inc.
Compass Group North America*
John and Linda Confer*
The late Carol Cunningham*
Mark and Denise Cunningham*
Brent and Daria Fish – Fish Real Estate*
Five Star International*
Michael and Christina Reed*
Wheeland Lumber Company Inc.
Gene Yaw and Ann Pepperman*
Ambassador’s Society ($25,000 to $49,999)
Nicholas and Carol Catino
Clark Associates Charitable Foundation
The late David D. Cunningham*
The late Donald and Jean Cunningham*
Brian and Joanna Flynn
Herman and Luther’s Catering Co.
Keith and Jennifer Kuzio
George Logue III
Ron and Tina Miller
David and Marilyn Seeling
Walter and Erin Shultz
SPE Rotational Molding Division
Francis “Skip” Vogel and Kathleen Solley Vogel
Warfel Construction Co.
Wayne Township Landfill
The reception was preceded by dedication of the college's Pillar Project, which honors Gilmour's legacy through commemorative sponsorship of capstoned pillars surrounding the college's entryway. (The ceremony was scheduled to take place outdoors, in front of the pillars themselves, but was moved into the Student & Administrative Services Center by the day's early-spring snowstorm.)
"The pillars line the main entrance to campus – the literal accessway for students to a Penn College education," the project's initial 42 contributors were told by Kline, who initiated the Pillar Project as part of the Tomorrow Is in the Making: Legacy Campaign. "And, your thoughtful gifts to scholarships are creating that launchpad. Your gifts are enabling students to pursue their passions, and creating opportunities that many of them would not otherwise have experienced.
"That means more talented technicians, bakers, dental hygienists, engineers and business leaders, locally and globally. And that’s good for all of us. Because when you give a young person the chance to fulfill their potential, there’s no limit to what they can accomplish."
Honored by donors' generosity, Gilmour said the resulting scholarship funds will provide students with opportunities many never dreamed possible until they stepped on campus and started expanding their horizons. In addition, she commented that the pillars – whether installed when the entrance was dedicated in 1999 or thoroughly refurbished last fall – welcome the Penn College community to the wonders that await.
"I firmly believe that first impressions can make a difference," she said. "These pillars set the stage for what you will find behind Maynard Street. You know you're coming somewhere special."
– Photos by Cindy Davis Meixel, writer/photo editor
(unless otherwise noted)
President Gilmour dedicates the commemorative pillars at the main campus entrance with sincere words for those whose scholarship donations made it happen. "Thanks to you, our tomorrow-minded students are building the lives they want and the workforce that we need," she said. "Thanks to you, the stage is set for the next 100 years ... and I am forever grateful."
Michael R. Trassi (left), director of sales and restaurant operations, watches as the president greets Shawn L. Hanlin, executive chef at Le Jeune Chef Restaurant.
On hand to check in guests and mingle are College Relations Student Assistants Rudy C. Shadle and Natalie K. Lincalis.
Faculty retirees Craig A. Cian (left) and Chalmer C. Van Horn return to campus for the evening's festivities. Both have established scholarships at the college, while Cian sponsored a pillar in memory of wife Ruth Colene Chilcote Cian (who died in April 2017) and in honor of President Gilmour.
Dorothy Minnick – the wife of alumnus Howard C. Minnick Jr., whose Automation Systems Interconnect Inc. was welcomed into the Heritage Society – takes a cellphone photo of the Donor Wall.
Becky J. Shaner (right), senior manager of donor relations and special events, talks with alumnus Ryan Monteleone, who joined the Heritage Society, and College Relations Student Assistant Sydney M Telesky, whose gratitude was impressively expressed in the video shown to donors.
Guests watch the "donor impact" video on one of three large-screen monitors.
Kline beautifully reflects on Gilmour's life-changing tenure, prompting a burst of applause ... and a good-natured presidential protest: "That wasn't in the script!"
The president takes to the microphone to welcome Donor Wall guests ...
... and to express her humble appreciation for their investment in the college's students and alumni.
Culinary alumnus and hospitality adviser George Logue III, who joined the Ambassador's Society both individually and as part of a family catering business, accepts a gift from a grateful president.
David and Marilyn Seeling (daughter of Kenneth E. Carl, former president of Williamsport Area Community College and director of Williamsport Technical Institute), share a happy moment with Gilmour. The Seelings attained an Ambassador's Society level of giving this year.
Randy Fetterolf, a corporate technical recruiter for Cleveland Brothers Equipment Co. Inc., represents the evening's lone addition to the Millionaire's Society – a distinction that powerfully reflects the college's longtime partnership with Caterpillar and its network of dealers.
Donors enjoyed food prepared by hospitality students and catering staff from Le Jeune Chef Restaurant. At the carving station with Chef Hanlin are (from left) alumnus Rick Conrad, of Miller Electric; Jake Fisher, High Steel Structures Inc.; Justin Heistand, also of Miller Electric; and Max Williams, Hypertherm Inc.
No evening devoted to ongoing support would be complete without the Cunningham family, variously honored Monday – posthumously and in person – for its sustained giving. "Thank you to the Cunningham family for so thoughtfully making gifts to ensure their family legacy at Penn College," Gilmour said, singling out Jean Cunningham, the late matriarch, who provided a meaningful orientation when the president joined the college faculty. "She will forever be in my heart," the president said.
Stunningly restored and newly dedicated, the entrance pillars honor Gilmour's incalculable footprint and point to a vibrant future. (Photo by Larry D. Kauffman, digital publishing specialist/photographer)