The Center for Public Service

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“Our work is to engage the institution in community change and social justice.”

— Gretchen Natter

Gettysburg College prepares students to be leaders and active citizens in their professions, communities, nation, and the world. Through the Center for Public Service (CPS) our mission is made manifest. CPS connects our students and faculty to the needs and aspirations of others.

It provides avenues for collaboration and information exchange among our faculty and community experts around the world. CPS supports service learning as a teaching strategy and creates invaluable reciprocal partnerships. CPS brings what is best about Gettysburg College to the world and returns great benefits to our campus.

By securing funds to sustain CPS, we will ensure that CPS will fortify the academic and community connection, making it possible for every student to have at least one service learning experience.

Think Critically and Act Compassionately

Founded in 1991 by then-College Chaplain Karl Mattson, CPS quickly became a model for other institutions seeking to integrate meaningful community service, service-learning, and curriculum development.

CPS builds bridges through service, research, dialogue, and advocacy: bridges that bring ready assistance to those in need, connect the College’s considerable academic strengths to society’s complex problems, and integrate the global community into life at Gettysburg. Students are challenged to “think critically and act compassionately” through six program areas:

Student Leadership — program coordinators inspire and organize action for social justice on campus and in the community.

Dialogue — dialogue about race, class, and gender in safe, respectful, frank, and humorous spaces — to dismantle myths, expose privilege, and confront internalized messages.

Reflective Service — co-curricular opportunities for meaningful service.

Community-Based Learning — integration of traditional classroom learning with hands-on experiences, challenging students to link academic theories with community realities.

Community-Based Research — partnerships between students, faculty, and community members to engage in research to address a pressing community concern.

Immersion Projects — travel opportunities in the U.S. and abroad for students to engage with a community, encounter challenges, and deepen understanding of social justice issues.

National Recognition

Thanks to the CPS, Gettysburg College was one of the first institutions to receive the Carnegie Community Engagement Elective Classification. The College has been included among “Colleges That Encourage Character Development” by the Templeton Foundation and CPS is repeatedly recognized on the nation’s “President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll,“ the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service-learning and civic engagement. The College is a member of Campus Compact, the only national network of colleges and universities committed to campus-based civic engagement.

The difference that gifts have made

Generous benefactors have provided endowment or annual funds to implement innovative programs or make it possible for those students who rely on earned income from jobs during the summer or the school year to participate.

Mattson Summer Experience Fund: established in honor of founding director Rev. Karl J. Mattson to support innovative social justice projects.

Projects for Peace: a competitive national grant established by Dr. Kathryn Wasserman Davis.

Dee Hess ’82 Memorial Fund for Service Learning: established in memory of Diana “Dee” Hess ’82 to honor her passion and commitment to public service.

Joe Derrig ’83 Memorial Fund: created in memory of Joseph P. Derrig ’83 to support student participation in service-learning trips and campus programs related to AIDS.

The Heston Summer Program: made possible through the generous annual gifts of College Trustee Jim Heston ’70, so that students have opportunities to engage in community action work locally and abroad.