Penner Retires from the College of Architecture after 30 Years of Service

Penner Retires from the College of Architecture after 30 Years of Service

By Kerry McCulloug...

July 15, 2016

Jay Penner

The UNL College of Architecture extends warm wishes to Jay Penner as he prepares for retirement this summer. His retirement reception will be held August 1st at the Van Brunt Visitors Center from 4-6:00 pm.

Penner has served the College loyally as their accounting clerk for 30 years. For the past three decades, Penner has assisted students, faculty, staff and visitors with numerous finance and building needs.

“Jay represents the quality of person that serves within our College,” commented Katherine Ankerson, College of Architecture Dean. “He represents the commitment to quality, the willingness to go the extra mile time and again and the desire to help. He has often been the first person to greet a stranger or a student looking for information or directions. For faculty and staff, he was likely the first person they saw in the morning and the last one they saw at night. I’m proud to say he has been my friend and a friend to everyone else here at the College. I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say, ‘Jay, you will be dearly missed.’”

During his tenure, Penner has seen many faces, changes and transitions. He served under three deans, W. Cecil Steward, Wayne Drummond and Katherine Ankerson; four interim deans: N. Brito Mutunayagam, Jim O’Hanlon, Kim Wilson and Scott Killinger; and seven associate deans: Joe Luther, N. Brito Mutunayagam, Bill Borner, Mark Hoistad, Sharon Kuska, Katherine Ankerson and Rumiko Handa.

Penner says he has thoroughly enjoyed working with all of the administrators as well as his staff colleagues. The students have always carried a special place for Penner as well.

“Students are the reason we are here. I am awe-struck at their creativity and enthusiasm for design and planning,” Penner said. “Our students always amaze me.”

“If a student came in the Dean’s office for something, Jay would always stop what he was doing to help them and made sure they were taken care of. He provided remarkable customer service and carried himself with true professionalism,” commented colleague Olivia Wilson.

In addition to changing faces, Penner has also seen his position evolve with the churning of technology.

“My first desk did not have a computer on it. I kept the books with pencil and ledger paper, added debit and credit columns with an adding machine, and then reconciled the paper work with the University Main Frame printouts,” recalls Penner.

“Not long after that, I received my first desktop computer, a Macintosh with a nine inch screen. I was thrilled to explore Microsoft Excel for the first time. When I saw the first 15 inch color monitor, I thought I was in a Cinerama Theatre.”

When needed, Penner also used to make special trips to Harman’s Camera store on O Street for film purchases, which eventually would be developed in the College’s darkroom.

How times have changed, gone are those days of paper ledgers, Penner now enjoys utilizing the SAP campus software enabling him and other users to see real-time data for accounting activities. Technology has also eliminated any need for Penner’s film runs and the College’s darkroom and replaced them with digital cameras, computers and large format printers.

“We thank Jay for his dedication and service to this College and the University over these 30 years,” commented Ankerson. “We wish Jay only the best in his well-deserved retirement years!”