The past year was one of challenge and hardship. It was felt around the world, across our country, and within our community, too.
And yet, despite these challenges, we have seen first hand just how strong, resilient, and generous our community can be.
Our students, faculty, staff, and alumni came together to support one another in a time of need, reinvesting in and exemplifying the core values of a Gettysburg education.
As we celebrate the ushering in of a new year, let us also celebrate all that we overcame together as a community in 2020; each accomplishment a testament to how we’ll keep moving forward into a bright future.
New academic directions
We were excited to revamp two of our existing academic programs, and introduce a new one, to ignite the intellectual passions of our students now and set them up for career success in the future.
Last fall, the Management department announced the transformation of their Organizations and Management Studies (OMS) major to incorporate new courses on marketing, accounting, and finance, to create the Business, Organizations, and Management (BOM) major. The major opened for student enrollment during the spring semester of 2020, and will continue to prepare students well for career success.
“For many years, Organization and Management Studies (OMS)—one of Gettysburg College’s most popular and esteemed majors—has provided our students with the knowledge and reasoning abilities to excel in a wide range of professional endeavors,” said Provost Chris Zappe.
“Our new Business, Organizations, and Management major serves as an evolution of this rigorous curriculum, preparing students to address contemporary business and organizational issues, while developing the social consciousness to effectively navigate change throughout their careers.”
This past year also saw the merging of the International Studies major with the Globalization Studies major to create the International and Global Studies (IGS) major. The new major was announced in the fall and enrolled its first cohort of students in October 2020.
Students can choose from one of two tracks within the program. The international affairs path emphasizes political science and economics. A global studies path asks students to forge a self-designed path with courses related to a specific region and one of six themes (or students may design their own).
“As opposed to trying to fully merge international affairs and globalization studies into one single thing, we recognize that they had two different emphases to them,” said Dina Lowy, chair of the IGS department and associate prof. of history. “You can be interested in international and global things in different ways. So, as we designed the combined major, we kept what was unique about both and streamlined our resources in the areas that they overlap.”
The goal is to create a culture amongst the students where they can collaborate and have conversations within courses that have similar emphasis, while focused on developing an informed global perspective, enhancing critical thinking, and preparing for a lifelong journey of active citizenship in a more interconnected world.
The final academic program—a minor in data science—was introduced in Spring 2020 and aims to position students well for graduate school and careers in data-intensive fields. The minor can be paired with any combination of majors and minors. Since its launch, the data science program has grown to include students across seven different majors who are developing interdisciplinary skill sets as they discover connections between data science techniques and their major.
“There’s a lot of buzz about data science, and it’s well-deserved. We live in the era of big data where information is inexpensive to collect. Organizations and businesses rely on data scientists to transform raw data into solutions and communicate their findings in a way that positively affects decisions,” said physics Prof. and Data Science Chair James Puckett. “Across all disciplines and industries, employers value the skills needed to collect, understand, analyze and communicate solutions about data.”
Gifts to transform our campus and community
This past year has seen generous donations from our active and engaged alumni. Not only did they step up to help our students in a time of need—raising over $85,000 for a Student Emergency Fund to help students navigate the financial hardships and changing circumstances of the global pandemic—but they came together to help the College secure its future, as well.
In February 2020, the College’s sixth annual Gettysburgives Challenge saw generous contributions from 3,486 donors and raised over $1 million to create new opportunities for today’s students and bolster the College for future generations.
In addition to gifts given during the Challenge, two of our alumni made gifts to the College that stand out for the long-lasting impact they have secured.
The first was gifted by distinguished alumna and member of Gettysburg College’s President’s Advisory Circle, Daria Lo Presti Wallach ’76. She and her husband made a gift to the College of a $1.5 million endowment to create The Daria L. & Eric J. Wallach Professorship of Peace and Justice Studies. The endowed professorship was announced in November of 2020, with Peace and Justice Studies and Africana Studies Prof. Hakim Mohandas Amani Williams nominated to hold the title.
“Daria, via her gift, demonstrates to me that there are people of goodwill who want to invest in our student-leaders. An investment in peace and justice is an investment in the crafting of a better world,” said Williams. “This gift will allow us to offer programming, training and workshops to students in conflict resolution, restorative justice, mediation, and organizing.”
A second gift was announced one year after the creation of the new BOM major. The Management department received a generous commitment of $3.5 million from David R. Brennan ’75 P’00, Chair of the Board of Trustees, for the creation of an endowment for their BOM major. A dollar-for-dollar match from Brennan, the gift is intended to inspire other sizable gifts that will prepare students for meaningful careers in business.
“I attribute the success I had in my career to my Gettysburg education,” said Brennan, retired CEO of AstraZeneca. “It is my hope—in fact, my obligation—to do all that I can to ensure that future generations of Gettysburgians are as prepared as I was to serve as business leaders and engaged citizens in our complex and fast-changing world. I know there are others like me who owe a debt of gratitude to Gettysburg College, and I urge them to join me in supporting this essential and impactful program.”
For more information about the Brennan Challenge, please contact Kathleen Regentin, Assistant Vice President for College Advancement, at email@example.com or (717) 337-6594.
A strategic plan to drive our future
In a year of transformative change, Gettysburg College also started to lay the foundation for its future, kicking off a new strategic plan: Living our Promise. This process began with asking a simple question: how do we best prepare our students for the world that awaits?
The answer is not found in a radical reconceptualization of who we are as Gettysburgians. Rather, it is found in reinforcing and building upon our institutional strengths, and will be anchored by four guiding principles:
- The development of a robust, relevant, and integrated academic and co-curricular student experience.
- A commitment to diversity, inclusion, and belonging.
- Graduating students who are ready to make an impact.
- Improving our distinction, market position, and financial sustainability.
This past year was anything but what we expected. 2020 presented challenge and hardship at every turn. And yet the above accomplishments, as well as the countless other stories of Gettysburgians coming together in times of need are testament to the resilience of our community, our collective ability to rise above our circumstances, and Gettysburg’s steadfast commitment to continually move boldly into the future.
By Kasey Varner ’14
Photos by Miranda Harple, Shawna Sherrell, and courtesy of alumni