From the President - Spring 2012


The word “engaged” has become standard in the admissions materials and on the websites of today’s colleges and universities. Gettysburg College is no exception and has focused on engaged learning for years.

Engaged learning refers to students taking a proactive approach to their education. It implies active, rather than passive, learning. Engaged learning goes far beyond simply attending class, listening to lectures, and taking notes. It means wrestling with ideas, conducting research, asking questions, generating solutions, and applying one’s education.

Engaged learning occurs both inside and outside the classroom, through research experiences with faculty, study abroad, public service, internships and externships, and other opportunities to explore firsthand in the field what has been learned in the classroom.

Engaged learning can be truly transformational. Take senior Gianina Galatro, who has a strong interest in public health. At Gettysburg she created an individual major, Biomolecular Impact on Public Health, which she has paired with a chemistry minor. Gia describes engaged learning as “taking my education from a product to a process,” and says it has “infiltrated all aspects of my life — my self-designed major, my study abroad experience in Kenya, and my senior capstone.” Through the Center for Public Service, Gia worked as a Heston intern in a senior center, and has also participated in the Adams County Circles initiative, building relationships across socioeconomic lines. Gia says her engaged learning has changed her way of thinking and her planning for the future. She hopes to work in the areas of public health and social justice.

Of course career-related experiences also exemplify engaged learning and are of great interest and value to our students. For example, Prof. Peter Carmichael, director of the Civil War Institute, has built a network of summer internships at museums and National Park Service battlefield sites. This experiential approach to learning deepens students’ knowledge about the subject matter and gives them a career-related experience to build on as they seek employment.

Opportunities for engaged learning help students connect thought with action and classroom with career. These experiences enrich learning and help students to consider how they will put their education to good use. Expanding the availability of these kinds of opportunities requires additional funding and is therefore a campaign priority. Funding for engaged learning experiences can come through annual support or the establishment of endowed funds for student research, public service experiences, or other areas. It can also come through the provision of internships or other career-related experiences for our students.

I’d like to conclude my message by calling your attention to the article regarding the $5 million pledge made to the campaign by John Jaeger ’65. John has directed his generous gift to general endowment, which provides overall support for the extraordinary learning experience that we provide to our students. I am so grateful to John for his leadership and his financial support, and I am grateful to all of those who give what they can to assure that Gettysburg continues to offer one of the best liberal arts experiences in the country.


Janet Morgan Riggs ’77

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Posted: Thu, 26 Apr 2012

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