President's Message

"All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity." – Robert Kennedy

Trying to weather difficult times can leave us feeling as if we're walking through a thick fog. The path is unclear. The outcome is uncertain. The future seems beyond our control.

At times like these, we can benefit from a reflection upon our core values. Seeking to define our place in the world, we can often find answers to many of our questions.

We may not be in a position to right every wrong, fight every foe, fix everything that needs fixing, but we can gain strength and hope by centering our thoughts upon what we believe is our true purpose.

The 2009-10 academic year challenged Pennsylvania College of Technology in many ways. The bruised economy impacted our revenue, reducing state funding and enrollment. While we could not control the economic recession that led to pain and sacrifice in communities throughout the nation, we did take the opportunity to assess our priorities and to come to a new understanding of what it will take to be successful in the future.

The people of Penn College rose to the challenge, developing new values and mission statements that would form the foundation of a new, initiative-based strategic planning process. The process – built upon a cycle of assessment, planning and resource allocation – is our blueprint for our future.

At a time when the future seemed so uncertain, Penn College took a proactive approach to planning that focused on meeting opportunities with integrity and fiscal responsibility.

Academic and administrative units, including the Assessment, Research and Planning Office, now must annually review data and evaluate outcomes of the previous year’s approved (and funded) initiatives. The review takes place from May through September with results delivered to President’s Council by Oct. 1. President’s Council reviews the information, formulates major institutional initiatives for the coming year by Dec. 1 and secures the approval of College Council and the Board of Directors.

The approved major institutional initiatives guide budget development within academic and administrative units. Recommended budgets (developed March 1 – May 15) must include funding for new initiatives and be approved by President’s Council and the Board of Directors prior to the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.

The college’s first-year effort in initiative-based strategic planning resulted in a three-year plan (2010-13) with strategic goals to guide operations and budget development.

"With insightful planning and purpose, we will lead the way and inspire hope for the commonwealth's workforce."

The timing was right for such an undertaking, as the institution also was in the beginning stages of our accreditation self-study. This academic year, the steering committee and study groups were established, a collegewide activity was held during convocation to provide input to the study groups, and our design document was approved by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Connecting outcomes to planning and planning to budget development is necessary to good decision-making and to fiscal responsibility.

As individuals and as an organization, it is important that we live within our means. It also is important that we keep moving forward. Hard times can lead to new opportunities; we must allocate our resources in ways that inspire vision and encourage persistence in order to succeed in a changing world.

When the nation faced its Great Depression, the founders of our institution rose to the challenge and developed a nationally recognized program that partnered government, education and industry to solve training and workforce needs.

Ironically, even when unemployment was at its highest in the 1930s, there was a shortage of skilled workers. Those who were willing to learn and had access to education and training not only survived the tough times, they thrived. They were prepared for a new workforce, a new economy.

We face similar circumstances in the workforce today. There is a great need for men and women who know how to apply advanced and emerging technologies in a wide variety of fields, from the front lines and the assembly lines to the management teams and the executive offices. The ability to use technology and resources effectively truly is the keystone of career success in the 21st century.

As Pennsylvania’s premier technical college, Penn College can be proud of its purpose and its opportunity to impact the future. This is a defining moment in our history. With insightful planning and purpose, we will lead the way and inspire hope for the commonwealth’s workforce.

Davie Jane Gilmour

Davie Jane Gilmour, Ph.D.