Penn College centennial celebration looks to connect past with present

With the turn of the calendar to 2014, Pennsylvania College of Technology officially will kickoff a year-long celebration of 100 years of education.

The celebration, which will see at least one event in each month of 2014, took about a year to plan, according to Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour, college president.

“We’ve been planning for about a year because your 100th birthday only comes around once,” she said.

The college begins its centennial celebration today with a number of social media activities. Penn College sent out a Vine video and messages on its Facebook and Twitter profiles. The college is encouraging others to use the social media websites to send well wishes to the school as it heads into its 100th year as an educational institute.

Gilmour said the college has plans to hold events celebrating the centennial throughout the year.

Events include speakers, a symphony orchestra concert and a variety of reunions. One reunion Gilmour highlighted is for the automotive program, one of the institute’s first programs.

Gilmour said all events look to connect the past with the present. The hope is that the various events will bring together current students and alumni, as well.

“As the events unfold throughout the year, people will have an opportunity to come back and visit the campus,” she said.

Two open house events planned for perspective students to visit the campus will be extended in order to invite alumni back. Time has been set aside from 2 to 4 p.m. during the open houses March 29 and Oct. 26 to allow the school’s alumni to revisit the ever-changing campus.

Through vintage apparel being sold at the college’s bookstore, Gilmour said she already can see students taking an interest in the school’s past. T-shirts and sweatshirts from the college’s bookstore feature the logos of the former Williamsport Technical Institute and Williamsport Area Community College, Penn College’s predecessors.

“I think people are very proud of our history,” Gilmour said.

And for Gilmour, the most important part of the celebration is the people.

“I’m most looking forward to making the connections with the people that made the college what it is today,” she said.

“All throughout the year, we’ll be celebrating the people that made (the school) special,” Gilmour added.

Although it has gone through various name changes – from Williamsport Technical Institute to Williamsport Area Community College to Pennsylvania College of Technology – the mission has remained the same, Gilmour said.

“The students were always the driving force of our mission,” she said. “We’ve stayed true to our mission.”

But as it is with everything, Gilmour said the college won’t remain stagnant. She said the celebration will be a launching point for the college’s next 100 years.

“I think it’s going to be celebrating our past and creating our new legacy,” she said.