The Unfinished Work

A Strategic Direction for Gettysburg College

One hundred fifty-three years ago the Gettysburg College community walked together to the south end of town for the dedication of the national cemetery that provided the burial site for more than 3500 Union soldiers killed during the Battle of Gettysburg four months earlier. There they heard Abraham Lincoln’s call to the nation to re-dedicate itself to the proposition that all men are created equal, to a new birth of freedom, to the unfinished work.

Today it is clear that the work before our nation—and before our world—is far from finished.

There is still much to be done to secure and advance our democracy. We face complex social, cultural, environmental, and global issues: inequality and discrimination, hunger, war, climate change, and disease. The leaders of tomorrow must be creative thinkers prepared to tackle multi-faceted problems, engaged professionals able to translate good thinking into effective action, and dedicated citizens prepared to unite rather than divide people. We need a new generation of thinkers and problem-solvers—judges, doctors, scientists, teachers, mathematicians, entrepreneurs, managers, artists—who are prepared to generate solutions and effect positive change. With the words of Abraham Lincoln still ringing in our ears, Gettysburg College’s mission is to prepare its students to be those leaders who will secure the worth and dignity of others, who will face the challenges ahead, who will step up to the unfinished work of our age.

This strategic plan focuses on reinforcing that preparation, on preparing our students for lives of impact, for lives that will be played out in an increasingly diverse and globally interconnected society, and for lives that will embrace innovative approaches to the complex issues before us. To that end, we developed this plan around three key themes—Impact; Inclusion and Internationalization; and Innovation—themes that we believe must be woven into a Gettysburg liberal arts education to prepare our students to make their contribution towards the unfinished work still before us.


The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here,
but it can never forget what they did here.

President Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

With this humble sentence, President Lincoln made clear that the actions of others mattered far more than his rhetoric. Of course, we do indeed remember what he said here in Gettysburg; but we also remember his focus on action as we prepare our students for the future. Building upon a strong foundation in the liberal arts and sciences, we will prepare our students for lives of impact by enhancing opportunities for experiential learning that will advance their personal and intellectual development, their sense of social responsibility, and their ability to take effective action in service of the greater good.

Explore Impact

Inclusion & Internationalization

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
President Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

President Lincoln’s reminder of our nation’s founding principles provides a context for preparing our students for the unfinished work of civil rights and social justice. We will cultivate a diverse, inclusive and welcoming campus community that inspires a sense of social responsibility and enables our students to thrive in and contribute productively to an increasingly diverse and globally interconnected society.

Explore Inclusion & Internationalization


As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew.
President Abraham Lincoln
December 1, 1862

To prepare our students both personally and professionally for lives of innovation, we will promote an institutional culture of thinking and acting anew that honors the visionary leadership of President Abraham Lincoln.

Explore Innovation