GETTYSBURG, PA - Gettysburg College President Katherine Haley Will announced March 25 that she will leave her post at the end of the academic year after nearly four years in office, citing personal reasons. The College's Board has accepted Dr. Will's resignation with regret and appointed Gettysburg's Provost, Dr. Janet Morgan Riggs '77, as interim president until a national search for the College's 14th president is completed.
"My husband Oscar has taken a wonderful job in Kansas as editor of GRIT magazine," Dr. Will told her colleagues. "He has been so supportive of my career over the past decade that of course I wholeheartedly supported his move, but we have found that being so far away from one other is difficult, and the travel back and forth has been a strain." Oscar Henry Will III, Ph.D., is a molecular geneticist and former college professor.
Will also stated that Gettysburg needs a president now who will commit to stay through a future campaign which will commence in 2009 or 2010 and run for at least six years after that. "I could see that committing to that trajectory, especially given my husband's position in Kansas, was more than I could do. But I feel very good that we have a compelling new strategic direction in place that will guide the campaign and a strong senior staff to implement it. Therefore, it became clear to me, after careful consideration over the last few months, that this is the most advantageous time for the College to secure a new leader who will lead the campaign and see it through to completion.
"I am proud that I have helped Gettysburg to move upward to a position of strength from which to launch a major campaign and I am excited to see where the next administration will take it," she said. "I will miss so many people at Gettysburg-it's an exceptional place-but I am convinced that this decision is best both for me and the College. I am grateful that the Board of Trustees understands my decision, and that they have been so thoughtful as to provide a sabbatical next year as part of my transition. And we are all confident that Provost Janet Riggs will be an outstanding interim president."
Board of Trustees Chairman James Weaver noted Dr. Will's accomplishments over the past four years. "She presided over the completion of the College's new strategic direction and a long-term campus facilities master plan," he said. "She oversaw the move to a five-course teaching load to allow faculty to spend more individual time with students. In addition, she initiated a comprehensive student career networking program, obtained approval for construction of the new $26 million Center for Athletics, Recreation and Fitness, and secured the largest single gift from a living donor in College history.
Dr. Will also expanded the Eisenhower Institute of Public Policy at Gettysburg. She currently serves as Chair of the Annapolis Group, an organization of more than 100 of the leading national independent liberal arts colleges - who come together to share mutual interests and information that will strengthen their respective educational programs. Dr. Will has been a leader in higher education, and has published numerous op-eds and articles on higher education policy issues. She brought visibility to Gettysburg through these efforts.
"For the 2006-07 academic year, Gettysburg received a record number of applications leading to the highest degree of selectivity in our history, in the same year that we experienced a record graduation rate," Weaver concluded.
Dr. Will previously served as president of Whittier College in California and had been provost and professor of English at Kenyon College, where she was leader of the college's academic program, faculty and curriculum. As a faculty member in Victorian literature, Dr. Will received the Burlington Northern Award for Excellence in Teaching. The author of works on Victorian literature, women's literature, and trends in educational technology and public policy, Dr. Will earned her master's and doctoral degrees in English from the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana. She completed her bachelor of arts degree at Tufts University, which awarded her an honorary doctoral degree in 2002.
Dr. Janet Morgan Riggs, currently the College's provost, will assume the role of interim president in June. Dr. Riggs, a Gettysburg College professor and a graduate of the College, assumed the role of provost in 2007. Dr. Riggs has served the College for more than 25 years as a professor of psychology and a college administrator. She served as interim provost from 1995 to 1996 and again from 2006 to 2007. She was also executive assistant to the president from 1991 to 1994.
After graduating summa cum laude from Gettysburg with a B.A. in psychology and mathematics in 1977, Dr. Riggs received her M.A. and Ph. D. in social psychology from Princeton University.
"Gettysburg College is fortunate to have in place an exceptional leadership team," said Weaver. "I am confident that Dr. Riggs will continue to work cooperatively with her colleagues and move forward on the many important initiatives of the College. We look forward to continued success and an exciting future."
Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with approximately 2,600 students. It is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania. The College was founded in 1832.