Long days are the norm for President Janet Morgan Riggs ’77, appointed the College’s fourteenth (and first alumna) President in 2009. Her office in Penn Hall is a space to work in peace, but more often a busy hub where she welcomes students, faculty, alumni—and recently Gettysburg magazine—to visit.
- 620-step commute
When she is not traveling to meet alumni and parents around the country, her day begins with a quick walk from the President’s House on West Broadway to the office in Pennsylvania Hall.
- Orange and Blue, through and through
A scarf made by Bonnie Chemel (wife of Board of Trustees Chair Jim Chemel ’71) complements the many hats Riggs wears as a Gettysburgian: student, alumna, professor, administrator, and President.
- Nod to the past
Riggs earned her PhD in social psychology at Princeton University and was recruited by her undergrad mentors to return to Gettysburg as a faculty member. One textbook from her College days has been with her through the journey: Calculus of Vector Functions for a course taught by (now) Professor Emeritus David E. Flesner.
- First and foremost, a teacher
In her top drawer there’s a grade book that she used as recently as 2010. Riggs received the Gettysburg College Student Senate Faculty Appreciation Award after a mere three years of teaching, as well as the Thompson Distinguished Teaching Award and the Gettysburg College Woman of Distinction Award. She was psychology department chair from 1996-2001 and continues to hold office hours.
- The face of Gettysburg College
Representing the College at official functions has many rewards. Among her mementos: jingle bells made by Cly-Del Manufacturing Company from College benefactor Bob Garthwait ’82; commemorative medallions; and photos with luminaries such as retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and director Steven Spielberg.
- Simple and familiar
Except for some personal items, the office looks much the same as it did when Riggs became President, in the midst of the economic turmoil that began in 2008. As the College weathered the downturn, Riggs did not want to use College funds to change the décor of the office or the President’s residence.
- The President’s view
From her window she can watch chairs go up for Commencement and Convocation. Past the library and the path of the Twilight Walk, she can see Plank Gym. “That’s where I first met Ed,” she said. The two met on their third day on campus and married in 1978.
- Hitting the beach
A photo of flip-flops on the sand and orange- and blue-framed starfish hearken back to summers at Long Beach Island, New Jersey. “As a kid, it’s where we always went on vacation, and I’ve gone to the beach every summer of my life except the year our twins were born,” she said.
- Speaking of family
Janet and Ed Riggs ’77 have three adult children: Brian and twins Rachel and Tommy. Rachel painted the flower as a Mother’s Day gift and Tommy is known for his iconic photo of Cory Weissman ’12 hitting his 1000 to 1 foul shot. Oldest son Brian is a structural engineer in the Philadelphia area.
If they could, these walls might talk about the wounded Civil War soldiers who were cared for in 1863. Or of student pranks and break-ins in the late 1800s. Or about John Jaeger and Eric Kolbe, both members of the Class of 1965 who visited and made multimillion dollar commitments to support Gettysburg Great: The Campaign for Our College.
A blog by President Janet Morgan Riggs ’77, Cupola Conversations, can be found online.Posted: Fri, 27 Jun 2014