President Gilmour says farewell to the Wilkes University community

Austin Loukas

Tim Gilmour, Wilkes University President

The title of my inaugural speech was “The Courage to Be Great.”  Throughout my presidency, I’ve challenged our University community to have the courage to work together to build a truly great institution.  And as a community – our students, faculty and staff – I think we have been courageous.  I look back over the past 11 years and see so many achievements. We’ve been able to accomplish them because of the courage, the talent and the hard work of the people here at Wilkes.

As an institution, we’ve grown significantly, setting records for enrollment on the undergraduate and graduate levels. We’re a more diverse institution, doubling our minority population and drawing more than 100 international students representing 21 countries.

We’ve earned significant honors such as the grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and research grants to our faculty from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Several of our faculty has been recognized by their national associations as leaders in their field.  There have been additions to our program offerings – such as the Sidhu School of Business and Leadership, four master’s degree programs, and two doctoral degrees. And recently, we’ve opened the Pocono Center and begun construction of the new, state-of-the-art science building.

We’re making a lasting impact in the city of Wilkes-Barre and in the region, with over $20 million in investments in the Downtown and initiatives such as the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development and the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research for Northeastern Pennsylvania. And we sent an Army of Colonels out to help our community after the flood last fall.

So before I say farewell, I want to say thank you to everyone who made these achievements, and so many more, possible. There is no way I could list all of our successes in one article. And no president accomplishes these things alone. The members of the University community are who make it all possible and deserve the credit.

I’ve talked about some of the changes and accomplishments during my tenure at Wilkes. But one thing endures: This is really a wonderful place that brings a lot of people great joy. I’ve been honored to be a part of it.

Here at Wilkes, we care about the people we serve. We remain focused on our mission of educating our students. It’s what is great about this institution. Our faculty members come to work every day, committed to doing a good job.  You, our students, are the beneficiaries of their commitment.  Your growth and achievements make it all worthwhile.

I feel a bit like a graduating senior as I prepare to take my leave. I have enjoyed being here. Now this time is coming to an end and I don’t know what it’s going to be like when I leave. I have always been what I would describe as a “Point A to Point B” kind of person. I’ve always known where I was going next. As I anticipate leaving Wilkes, I have an opportunity to do new things. And this time, I’m trying to leave myself open to opportunities that have yet to present themselves.

The field of higher education will continue to be a focus for me: I’m planning to write a book about its future. We are going to have to re-think the way we do things at our colleges and universities and I’ll be spending the next year talking to people about how they see that future. New ways of teaching students and new ways of delivering instruction will surely be part of what’s on the horizon.

In closing, let me say thank you once again for the privilege of serving this institution.  I’m optimistic about the future of Wilkes – and about the future of you, our students. If there’s any thought I leave you with, it’s the same one that I shared when I started my presidency: Have the courage to be great!