Administration building named for retiring college president
The Student & Administrative Services Center at Pennsylvania College of Technology will soon bear the name of retiring President Davie Jane Gilmour.
The college’s Board of Directors convened a special meeting to approve the action at a gala event honoring Gilmour’s 24-year presidency. The board also granted emeritus status to Gilmour, who retires June 30.
The Student & Administrative Services Center, known in campus shorthand as “the SASC,” houses offices for student services such as Admissions, Financial Aid, the Registrar, Veterans & Military, the LEAP Center (first-year student assistance) and more. The upper floors of the three-story facility, which opened in 2003, includes spaces for People & Culture (formerly Human Resources), Financial Operations, Information Technology Services, Public Relations & Marketing and executive offices, including the President’s Office and Academic Affairs.
“It is entirely appropriate that a campus facility impacting the lives of virtually all students and employees will be named for a president who did so much to advance the status of this institution for nearly a quarter century,” said state Sen. Gene Yaw, chairman of the Penn College Board. “Davie Jane Gilmour has served with distinction, guiding the college through a period of robust growth and dynamic innovation while overseeing its development into a national leader in applied technology education. Her leadership has been integral to the college’s success.”
Gilmour joined the college in 1977 as an instructor and curriculum developer in the Dental Hygiene Program. In 1983, she was appointed to the first of many administrative positions. In 1993, she became the college's highest-ranking academic officer, vice president for academic affairs; in 1996, she assumed the position of vice president for academic affairs and provost. On May 4, 1998, Gilmour became president of Pennsylvania College of Technology.
The emeritus honor accorded to Gilmour is reserved for retired faculty and staff who have demonstrated a record of distinguished service to students, their department, their academic school and/or the college itself.
During Gilmour’s tenure as president, Penn College, a special mission affiliate of Penn State, has substantially increased its baccalaureate degree offerings and established its first graduate-level programs. The college is also a recognized leader in apprenticeship development through its Workforce Development department, co-administering an $8 million federal grant program to create industry-driven strategies for apprenticeships in advanced manufacturing fields and serving more than 3,200 apprentices in the process.
The college’s partnerships and support from business and industry have grown exponentially during Gilmour’s time as president, as have the number of employers (including many Fortune 500 companies) visiting campus to recruit students at Career Fairs and other events.
Gilmour oversaw a significant expansion of main campus through construction of a new main entrance, the Student & Administrative Services Center that will bear her name, the Madigan Library, College Avenue Labs, the Center for Business & Workforce Development, the Construction Masonry Building, Rose Street Commons student housing complex, the Field House, UPMC Field, and an expansion of the Welding Lab within the Lycoming Engines Metal Trades Center. She has also overseen extensive renovations to a number of campus facilities, including the Klump Academic Center.
Under her leadership, and sparked by her advocacy efforts with elected officials and the state Legislature, Penn College’s appropriation funding has risen to nearly $27 million. The college’s own fundraising efforts logged record growth, as well, and student scholarship assistance has grown to the highest level in the institution’s history.
Penn College is a national leader in applied technology education. For more, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free at 800-367-9222.
– Photos by Larry D. Kauffman, digital publishing specialist/photographer (unless otherwise noted)
Library displays – this one featuring Gilmour's mantra from day one of her administration – provided a retrospective of an illustrious career.
A collaborative industrial robot, with software donated by ABB, awaits interaction with guests.
... and place settings were accented with roses that were also fabricated by welding faculty and students.
The Madigan Library, one of the many campus additions during Gilmour's presidency, is transformed for a milestone celebration.
Gilmour and husband Fred arrive for an evening the president would later describe as "perfect."
The guest of honor is surrounded by the President's Council members in attendance.
Reed and spouse Christina, executive director of BLaST Intermediate Unit #17, prepare to enjoy the evening.
The president joins Valerie A. Baier, coordinator of president's office operations, with whom she has shared "sadness, craziness and happiness" during a 29-year personal and professional relationship, and Baier's alumna daughter. Kendel F. Baier, a national champion archer and member of the Penn College Athletics Hall of Fame, is a project manager and urban planner in Lititz.
The Gilmours, with grandson Beckett.
Former employees were among those turning out for the festivities, returning to campus for the tribute to their retiring colleague. Greeting the Gilmours on the receiving line are Nancy J. Schick, who retired in 2004 as secretary to the vice president for student affairs, and James E. Fitzpatrick, former dean of student affairs.
Nancy C. Bowers, a retired member of the mathematics faculty, views an exhibit on "Academics & Affinity" (one of the three pillars of the Legacy Campaign for Penn College). Bowers' husband, Robert G., who was unable to attend, was singled out by Gilmour during her remarks. "Bob is the person most responsible for me standing here today. In 1977, he hired me for a whopping $11,000 as a curriculum developer and faculty member for Williamsport Area Community College's brand-new dental hygiene program," she said. "Over the years, he became a trusted colleague, mentor and good friend."
Larry A. Ward (center), whose philanthropy equipped the explosive metamorphosis of the college's machining labs, talks with Ana Gonzalez-White (left), director of development at the Community Arts Center, and John M. and Linda D. Confer.
Another hands-on attraction (and reminder of the college's profound industry support) was the welding simulator, staffed by Elizabeth A. Biddle, director of corporate relations, standing between Erin S. Shultz (background), career events manager, and Aurora V. Gilmour (left), widow of Fred Gilmour's brother, Scott.
A photo montage serves as a reminder: Styles change, but the president's commitment is a constant.
In prerecorded remarks, Robert E. Dunham, chairman emeritus of the college's Board of Directors, promised to remain Gilmour's "best cheerleader" into her retirement. "In her years as president, she has led and inspired and enabled, has brought academic integrity and high standards to the college, and she has fostered an environment in which all people feel genuinely included. When she helped someone, she also encouraged them to help others," he said. "I am so proud of you for all that you have done. You have exceeded all of my expectations."
Loni N. Kline, vice president for college relations/chief philanthropy officer, welcomes guests "as we honor and celebrate the transformative leadership of President Davie Jane Gilmour." Kline and her College Relations staff spearheaded the gala with a focused eye toward telling "an incredible story of steadfast leadership, dedication to our students, commitment to people in our community, and an unwavering passion for the past, present and future of Penn College."
The senator introduces a salute to Gilmour, prepared (as was the Dunham tribute) by Tom Speicher, writer/video producer.
With heartfelt gratitude, the president unsurprisingly turns the spotlight on others for their role in her monumental journey through higher education: family, mentors, friends, co-workers, alumni, the college's supportive corporate partners ... and, always and forever, students.
Gilmour acknowledges the "great friendship" between her grandson and Emma Strickland, daughter of college administrators Elliott and Carolyn J. Strickland.
With August commencement looming, Gilmour passes a torch, of sorts: the medal that she has worn at graduation ceremonies since assuming the presidency in May 1998 ...
... and seals the handoff with a hug.
Applause erupts as an up-to-date total for the Legacy Campaign is announced, nearly $37 million (and counting) that will impact students' lives immeasurably. "Your outpouring of support has been truly remarkable," the president said. "I stand before you humbled by your collective response to our campaign."
Sydney M. Telesky, a human services & restorative justice student and incoming president of the college's Student Government Association, tells of her introduction the president – "the most influential experience to happen to me at Penn College." Similar sentiments were solicited from those attending the gala, and were collected in a box (visible at left) designed and handcrafted by Kat A. Valentine, manager of makerspace operations, from timber harvested by students at the Schneebeli Earth Science Center.
Reed invites board members to convene their special meeting ...
... as attendees watch history unfold with the approval of two resolutions: according emeritus status for the soon-to-be-retiree and renaming the Student & Administrative Services Center in her honor.
Board secretary Baier calls the roll to confirm a quorum.
Among the board members to speak during the meeting, Steven P. Johnson commends Gilmour for her "intellect, integrity and courage," as well as her philanthropic legacy with such organizations as the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, Little League International, the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania and UPMC Susquehanna.
"Humbled beyond words," the president can't conceal her surprise at the SASC's imminent rebirth as the Davie Jane Gilmour Center.
During the customary "public comment" portion of the board meeting, Jennifer D. Wilson, FCFP's president/CEO, invoked a song from "Hamilton" in which President George Washington "teaches 'em how to say goodbye." "You have done such a beautiful job at that over this past year," Wilson said, "and I thank you for yet another example that you've set for me and for our community."
The president warmly absorbs affection from the floor ...
... including from Confer, who chairs the Penn College Foundation's board, and who noted the growth under Gilmour's leadership of the foundation's scholarship assets from $1.8 million to $27.4 million. He also lauded her accessibility, which has allowed someone with blue-collar roots in the city's West End to forge a friendship with a civic luminary. "You changed my life because I can talk to you," he said. "I can talk to the president of the college and feel comfortable!"
At the end of an era, the assembled crowd shares real-time moments of adulation.
"As great of an educational institution as we are, we are an even better place to work, and it is thanks to her leadership," says Elliott Strickland, vice president for student affairs. "I want to thank you for what you have done for the employees at Penn College, so that we can carry out our mission."
Delivering accolades from Little League International, President CEO Stephen D. Keener said, "We're grateful for your belief and understanding that children playing baseball and softball on tiny fields can, in many instances, instill in them attributes that will carry over into their adult lives."
Mackenzie Yaw Conway, daughter of Sen. Yaw and Ann S. Pepperman – as well as a practicing attorney and Gilmour's goddaughter – traveled from Missouri to honor a "life coach ... and a great inspiration for what a woman can do." (Coincidentally, Conway and Kendel Baier, both of whom have demonstrably touched the president's life, were born in the same hospital on the same day: July 13, 1993!)
Yaw and Fred Gilmour unveil another of the evening's surprises: a portrait of the honoree, digitally enhanced from a photograph by Cindy Davis Meixel, writer/photo editor in Public Relations & Marketing.
"You're my rock, and you know that. We've had quite an adventure," Gilmour told her husband. "I can't wait to see what our next chapter looks like and, what we do, who knows?"
A champagne toast from William J. Martin, who retired as senior vice president, closes out the evening. "People are using words like 'legacy.' I heard tonight – twice – 'transformational leadership,'" said Martin, cited by Gilmour on the list of men who made her a better person and administrator. "Wow! Those are powerful words, Davie, and they're about you. But they're entirely appropriate, given the magnitude of the accomplishments that you've had here. So, as you go to your retirement, what I wish for you – what I think everybody here wishes for you – is enrichment; fulfillment; dare I say, relaxation. And we hope that they accrue to you in proportionate magnitude to the accomplishments that you've had as a president."
State Sen. Gene Yaw, who chairs the college's Board of Directors, shares legislative citations from Harrisburg in appreciation of Gilmour's "exemplary dedication to duty." (Photo by Becky J. Shaner, senior manager of donor relations and special events)
Obviously overcoming "the butterflies in (her) stomach" that accompanied their first meeting, Telesky embraces a new advocate and friend. (Photo by Becky J. Shaner)
Centerpieces by Karen R. Ruhl, an award-winning horticulture instructor, topped off by a metal rose, grace each table ...
The Reeds welcome guests as they exit the elevator to the library's second floor.
Where in the world have Penn College students traveled? An interactive map tells the tale! (Guests could also pinpoint the places they've been, as well as everywhere their bucket lists may transport them.)