President Davie Jane Gilmour
Launching a legacy
After 23 years as president, Gilmour announces retirement
by Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour, President of the College
Published Friday, August 27, 2021
On May 13, I informed the Pennsylvania College of Technology community of my plans to retire on June 30, 2022. After 44 years, the last 23 as president, it was not a decision arrived at lightly.
I have spent virtually my entire professional career at Penn College – a rewarding and fulfilling experience like no other. I knew there would be mixed emotions as I prepared to embark on a new life journey.
I knew, too, there would be much work to be completed in the months remaining before my retirement; I would have it no other way. As I told employees who gathered in Bardo Gymnasium and online at the end of the 2020-21 academic year for an all-college meeting: There is much to be done, and we need to move Penn College forward – to position us for our future students and the future leader.
In my four and a half decades of service to this remarkable institution, nothing has motivated me more than providing deserving students with ample opportunities to succeed – in their future careers and in life itself. There has been no more gratifying moment as Penn College president than to shake the hand of a student crossing the stage at commencement and wish them well, knowing that a universe of possibilities beckons because of the unique education and training they have received on this campus.
With 2014 student-athletes of the year Christopher Brennan, a soccer player, and Kendel Baier, an archer.
The president gathers with student volunteers prior to an on-campus picnic for Little League World Series players.
Gilmour often says that shaking the hands of students at commencement and wishing them well is one of her most gratifying experiences as president.
Gilmour congratulates the women’s soccer team on its 2016 North Eastern Athletic Conference semifinal win.
Gilmour helps to welcome the family of Lauren Bitting on move-in day in 2014.
I am reminded of a lengthy conversation with my father – normally, a man of few words – when I was deciding whether to accept just such an opportunity: as the first dental hygiene faculty member at Penn College’s immediate predecessor institution, Williamsport Area Community College, in 1977.
The gist of his sage counsel was: “What an opportunity, the first faculty member in a new program. You will have many opportunities. Look at it as an adventure, a first step in a journey, and see what happens. If it does not fit, you can always leave.”
Well, it certainly did fit for me. And now, nothing would please me more than to see our students presented with similar opportunities that turn out to be the perfect fit for them and their unique circumstances.
As I told the college community on May 13, my response – whenever I am asked about a potential legacy associated with my presidential tenure – is quite simple. I do not think in terms of personal legacy. The legacy I prefer to address is institutional. It is setting the stage for future leaders, students, alumni and employees for the next 100 years.
How do we ensure that lofty aspiration is achievable? Well, if you know me, and if you know Penn College, you know that we pride ourselves on doing things differently. No one starts a fundraising campaign during a pandemic, right? No one except Penn College, that is. We need to launch the college’s legacy into the future for generations of deserving students, and there is no time like the present to begin.
There will be no flashing campaign-goal thermometer for all to behold. That has never been our style. I will tell you, however, that our alumni, industry partners, parents, employees, retirees and friends have contributed $28 million in gifts and pledges that have impacted our students tremendously over the past four years. Philanthropic support makes a profound difference for so many of our students. This campaign is not just about how much money we can raise; rather, it represents an education, a calling, an investment.
As I seek support from the entire Penn College community, let me tell you a bit about the foundation of my own philanthropic passions. My parents were my earliest educational and philanthropic role models. They were involved in our community as long as I can remember; they volunteered both their time and treasure.
My teachers and my elementary school principal were great influencers, as well. In third grade, our principal organized a “bank day” when we brought our money to school, and the “bank lady” came to record it in our passbooks. We watched her add interest and saw our investments grow. It was a great lesson in finances at an impressionable age.
When I give to Penn College today, I believe I am contributing to the future of our community in every sense. There simply is no greater reward than watching a student succeed. If you share my enthusiasm for student achievement and possibility, I hope you will see fit to join us in our campaign.
Since Day One as president, I have always said that people make the difference. Accordingly, I will be asking those who value what we do for students to be champions for Penn College in their personal and professional communities. Together, we will launch the legacy for the next generation.
Gilmour kicked off the public phase of the campaign with a six-figure gift that will support the existing Tomorrow Makers Scholarship and establish two new funds: the Gilmour Global Experiences Endowment and the Gilmour Student Competition Endowment.
“Growing up, I was fascinated by the thought that one AC unit could cool an entire house on the hottest of summer days. I look forward to earning my degree and creating temperate environments. Scholarship support from The Donald B. and Dorothy L. Stabler Foundation is helping me on my journey, setting up a solid financial future.”
William Hugar, ’22, heating, ventilation & air conditioning technology
“Knowing that people I’ve never even met want to support me and other students so that we can change the world is amazing to think about. I’m especially inspired by our very own President Gilmour’s support of students. Knowing that we have someone leading us who cares about us so much made me want to do the best I could here. I hope someday I’ll be able to support Penn College, as well, as a way to thank those who have given before and while I attended.”
Mary Watts, ’21, information assurance and cyber security
“As a scholarship recipient, the financial support has positively impacted my experience at Penn College. I currently pay for my tuition in its entirety, so the scholarships provide me more peace of mind throughout the year when I am determining how I will be able to pay for the next semester’s tuition. This enables me to focus more on my schoolwork, excel in my classes and get more involved on campus, without the worry of money.”
Sydney Telesky, ’23, human services and restorative justice
Expanding minds and horizons
A Penn College education prepares our students for the world beyond campus. Here, learning begins in the classroom and lab, but it stretches to the field, the gym and even halfway around the world.
Academic schools and programs keep our students at the forefront of their fields, preparing them for the world beyond campus.
Our study abroad program gives students opportunities to deepen their studies of art and history, provide nursing and dental care in developing countries or even observe the repair of Lamborghinis in Italy. The Global Experiences Fund makes these life-changing experiences possible.
Closer to home, our Wildcats attract tens of thousands of fans each year and unite students, alumni and the local community. Enhanced athletics facilities will further enable our talented student-athletes.
A gift to one of these areas will keep Penn College on the cutting edge of applied technology education and continue to transform our students into committed, thoughtful and active citizens and leaders.
Ways to give
Academic Programs: Give to grow
Consider a gift to one of our schools or programs. Our 100+ majors and 150+ learning labs create valuable opportunities for our students to learn and grow.
Athletics: Get on the team
Become a Wildcat Club member. Consider a gift to Wildcat Athletics or one of our 16 teams, providing student-athletes with opportunities on the playing surfaces and beyond.
Global Experiences: Expand horizons
Support life-changing experiences. Establish a named endowment or annual award, or make a gift to the Global Experiences Fund to help students sharpen their skills and discover a world of opportunities.
“I can literally do anything with my licenses and the skills that I’ve learned in the aviation maintenance technology program. I can stay in general aviation, work on small aircraft, work for a corporate airline or work for businesses that have fancy corporate jets. I can work on wind turbines. I can work with drones. I can work with the military. It feels like my options are limitless.”
Kate Ruggiero, ’20, aviation technology
“Contributions from Wildcat Club members make it possible for student-athletes like myself to participate in the sports we love. We appreciate the continued support and always look forward to everyone cheering us on from the sidelines.”
Colin Browne, ’22, human services and restorative justice, wrestling
Megan Mecouch, ’21, dental hygiene
“The experience I had studying abroad in the Dominican (Republic) ignited a fire for volunteer work in me that will continue to burn throughout my life, as I continue to follow my dreams of providing dental care to those who are less fortunate, both in other areas of the world and right here in the U.S.”
Megan Mecouch, ’21, dental hygiene
“There is a wide array of machines that I can now say that I know how to use, thanks to the updates made to the Larry A. Ward Machining Technologies Center. When I show up for my first week of work and they’re expecting to train a kid who doesn’t know how to do anything, I can show them that I actually know a thing or two about the control.”
Dakota Harrison, ’22, manufacturing engineering technology
“All of this new equipment gives us the chance to take these real-life scenarios that will be placed in front of us, and allows us to get that hands-on experience in class. It’s one of the biggest things that we can do in school to learn the skills we’ll need to join the workforce.”
Kurt Maly, ’22, automation engineering technology: mechatronics
Tina Marie Kline
“While there are other nursing programs out there, what makes Penn College unique is the commitment to hands-on learning. Our curriculum includes clinical experiences in a variety of settings including nursing homes, hospitals, schools and clinics, to name a few. We also augment those experiences with simulations that allow students to learn skills and develop clinical judgment in a safe environment. We have several high-fidelity manikins that talk, breathe, cry and sweat, and have real-life heartbeats, pulses and lung sounds.”
Tina Marie Kline, associate professor of nursing