I have procrastinated on writing this message, as it is my last to appear in our College magazine. By the time the next issue appears, I will be in the process of transitioning out of the role of Gettysburg College president. I have told many members of the Class of 2019 that I am graduating with them. I share their excitement about what the future holds, but I admit that I am also feeling the same sadness that some of them are experiencing— sadness about leaving a College that I love so much. I will return from time to time as an alumna, but things will certainly be different!
As I reflect on my career here, I often wonder how I could have been so fortunate to have had the opportunities that Gettysburg College has offered me over the years. I certainly never aspired to be a college president, but doors opened at various times and here I landed, much to my surprise. What a profound honor and privilege it’s been!
Although so many have supported my presidency, no one has done more to lift me up than my husband, Ed Riggs ’77. He has been with me through all of the trials and tribulations—offering a patient ear, enduring my long hours and travel schedule, cohosting numerous events, and providing the moral support that I have needed. I thank him and my three fabulous children—Brian, Rachel, and Tommy—for being my most ardent supporters.
I have also been blessed with a tremendous team of collaborators: the best office staff I could ever imagine and an experienced and wise senior administrative team who has taught me much and helped guide Gettysburg College through some challenging and exciting times.
Over the last 11 years, I have had the privilege of engaging with all of our constituencies: students, staff, faculty, alumni, parents, friends, and our volunteer boards and councils who support us in so many ways. I owe a special thanks to those who have served on our Board of Trustees, and especially the Board Chairs with whom I’ve had the honor to work: the late Jim Weaver ’64, Bob Duelks ’77, Jim Chemel ’71, and, this year, David Brennan ’75, P’00.
My interactions with all of our constituencies have caused me to marvel again and again over the strength of our Gettysburg community. We have received numerous accolades recently for everything from our alumni network to our great food, from our study abroad and internship experiences to our excellence in undergraduate teaching. These accolades are a result of a community that is mission-focused, that is dedicated to providing our students with the best education in the liberal arts and sciences and sending them off into their post-Gettysburg lives prepared—prepared for the workforce, prepared for further education, prepared for civic engagement, prepared for lifelong learning, and prepared for fulfilling personal lives. I have said many times that the Gettysburg experience is a personal experience. It takes a village to do what we do, and the Gettysburg village is as good as it gets.
I trust you share my pride in this great institution, in our adherence to our values and mission, in the transforming power of the education that we offer our students, and in the achievements and impact of our alumni. Gettysburg graduates are changing the world in large and small ways every day. They are a mighty force, and they give me great hope for, and confidence in, our future.
In closing, I want to extend my thanks to all of you. Thank you for your loyalty, for your volunteer and financial support, for your advice and good counsel, and for being such great ambassadors for Gettysburg College. I know you will continue to “Do Great Work!”
Janet Morgan Riggs ’77