This year at Gettysburg: 2021 in review

Orange and Blue adirondack chairs outside on Gettysburg College's campus
Move-In Day for the Class of 2025, featuring new orange and blue Adirondack chairs

As we reflect on the year and look toward the future, we celebrate all that we’ve accomplished and all that’s ahead. With an enduring commitment to our people, place, and approach, this year shines bright.

Read highlights from 2021 below. Did we miss any? Share your favorite Gettysburg College moments on social media using #gettysburgreat.

Community rallies around strategic planning process

In October 2020, President Iuliano introduced Living Our Promise, a new strategic plan for Gettysburg College to reimagine our student experience. Beginning in January 2021, faculty, administrators, staff, students, and alumni alike rallied around our strategic planning process and its framework founded on four pillars to enhance and differentiate the College. Capitalizing on our institutional strengths, Living Our Promise will seek to combine our rigorous liberal arts and sciences education with a more integrated and intentional student experience. It speaks boldly to our commitment at Gettysburg to inspire students to lead lives of meaning, service, and consequence. Learn more about the strategic planning process.

Tracie Potts speaking at a welcome reception
Eisenhower Institute Executive Director Tracie Potts at her welcome reception at Gettysburg College on October 15

Tracie Potts joins Eisenhower Institute

Tracie Potts was named the new executive director of the Eisenhower Institute. Tracie served as a Washington correspondent for NBC News Channel and as a daily contributor to “Early Today,” CNBC, and more than 200 NBC affiliates.

In this role, Potts continues to lead and inspire students, challenging them to care about issues that affect their lives, listen to diverse perspectives, and explore their talents and future impact on the world with clarity and creativity.

“President Eisenhower said it best: youth are our greatest resource,” she said.

J-Term makes a comeback

Gettysburg College’s January Term returned and launched its inaugural virtual J-Term this year! The free, creative programming combines curricular and co-curricular instruction in new ways to provide students with real-world applications that complement their classroom experiences. With nearly 1,000 student registrations, sessions were led by the College’s most distinctive programs including the Center for Career Engagement, Center for Public Service, Eisenhower Institute, Garthwait Leadership Center, and Peace and Justice Studies. No matter where students were in their college careers, they valued enhancing their personal, professional, and life skills through conversations with alumni, lessons on leadership, and more. Surveys showed 96% of respondents gave the experience a positive score. Register before December 21 for the next J-Term from January 3 to 14.

Athletics return to competition

After nearly a year away from intercollegiate competition, the Bullets returned in full force in the spring of 2021. Softball rose to the occasion by claiming the Centennial Conference championship and competing in the NCAA Division III playoffs. The end of the spring saw the retirement of longtime men’s lacrosse coach Hank Janczyk, who finished his coaching career with the second most wins in NCAA history.

Action resumed in the fall with men’s soccer making a run into the NCAA tournament and both volleyball and women’s soccer competing in the conference playoffs. A total of 11 Bullets earned All-American accolades in men’s swimming, men’s lacrosse, women’s lacrosse, and volleyball, while three student-athletes were tagged Academic All-Americans in 2021.

Students walking on a path in a cemetery with the sun setting behind them
Class of 2024 First-Year Walk
Students sitting at a table covered in thanksgiving food
Fall 2021 Servo Thanksgiving
Speaker at a podium during Gettysburg Colleges commencement ceremony
Class of 2020 Commencement
People posing for a photo on Orange and Blue day
Orange and Blue Day

Beloved traditions return and a new one begins

The campus community enjoyed a return to time-honored and well-loved traditions that build upon a shared commitment of our people and this place—and also welcomed a new one.

“The radiance of a community’s history often dims if it is overlooked or undervalued for long—that’s why traditions are so important,” said President Iuliano as he addressed the Class of 2025 before they embarked on the symbolic First-Year Walk during Orientation. The Class of 2024, who began their academic careers during a global pandemic, also participated in the First-Year Walk, 13 months later than originally planned on September 23 as sophomores.

In the warm days of April, with a socially-distanced spread of turkey, gravy, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, students happily waited in line to enjoy one of the College’s most filling traditions: Servo Thanksgiving. The reimagined dinner extravaganza allowed students to celebrate with friends and faculty—and embrace the season of change and gratitude. The tradition resumed its rightful place this November with students, staff, and faculty more than willing to serve with a smile.

Taking place for the first time in Musselman Stadium on May 17 to remain socially distanced, the graduating Class of 2021 was extolled to meet the moment, motivated to lead a life that truly makes a difference. Then on September 26, delayed from May 2020, the Class of 2020 returned home. In honor of their perseverance in the midst of uncertain times, carrying the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic on their shoulders, and doing it with grace and grit, members of the Class of 2020 were bestowed the first-ever Stole of Gratitude given to a graduating class at their Commencement ceremony.

Closing out 2021, Gettysburg College added a new tradition this November: Orange and Blue Day. On the first Friday each month, students, faculty, staff, and alumni wear orange and blue or Gettysburg apparel to show their spirit and love of Gettysburg. Show us your spirit by sharing your picture with us at!

Voices for change speak out

Gettysburg College community members enact meaningful change in word and in deed.

Admissions counselor Darryl Jones, an ally in the LGBTQ community who was featured in our College’s magazine, appeared on HBO’s “We’re Here,” a real-life series aimed at elevating LGBTQ voices in small-town America by using drag as a pathway toward inclusion. Honorary alumnus Rev. Karl Mattson, the founding director of the College’s Center for Public Service and College chaplain from 1977-1991, created signs of change—illuminating the truth that “this battle was fought because Black Lives Matter.” In September, mathematics Prof. Beth Campbell Hetrick was asked to serve on Pennsylvania’s Redistricting Advisory Council and will encourage students to participate in the Draw the Lines competition.

Whether advocating for social justice issues, fostering dialogue about anti-racism, or engaging in local and global change, we are passionate about making a difference.

Gettysburg College earns platinum status for civic engagement

Gettysburg College students were recognized as leaders in civic engagement when 80% of students voted in the 2020 presidential election, earning platinum status from the ALL IN Democracy Challenge—a national and nonpartisan initiative to encourage informed participation, citizenship, and civic learning in higher education. Only 47 colleges across the country received this honor. The Center for Public Service created a community-wide network of campus partners, students, and faculty to increase involvement, which resulted in a 24% increase in turnout since the 2016 election.

Students sitting on the ground in front of an archeological dig site
Archeological dig outside Pennsylvania Hall, co-directed by Anthropology Prof. Ben Luley and Prof. Kirby Farah

Faculty, students collaborate on archaeological excavation

Throughout October, the land between Musselman Library and Pennsylvania Hall became the site of an archeological dig. Anthropology and Classics Prof. Ben Luley, Anthropology Prof. Kirby Farah, and their classes worked together to investigate and excavate artifacts and architectural remains of an 1830s building which served as the residence for the College janitor John “Jack” Hopkins, his wife, Julia, and their two sons. Hopkins was a pillar of the Black community. This educational and collaborative work is part of the College’s efforts to share stories and voices that have been ignored or unacknowledged.

Gettysburg remains top-ranked

Members of the Gettysburg College community do great work—and it’s recognized. We’re consistently listed among rankings that matter, including being named a Best Value College by the Princeton Review, ranking No. 1 in Pennsylvania and No. 3 in the nation for our mid-length study abroad programs by The Power of International Education (IIE) Open Doors Report, and more. Nationally ranked among top colleges in the country for value, programs, and creating futures—a Gettysburg College education prepares individuals to make a positive impact on the world.

College community rises to the occasion

In a record-breaking year for annual giving, the College raised more than $4,071,016 for the Gettysburg Fund, marking only the third time in the College’s history that giving to the Gettysburg Fund exceeded $4 million. The Bullets Teams Challenge also saw record totals with more than $251,950 raised in support of our intercollegiate varsity athletics program.

To help us break new records, please consider supporting the Gettysburg Fund by December 31 and look for ways to get involved and give during the 8th annual Gettysburgives Challenge on Feb. 23-24—our 36-hour challenge to support students and advance our shared mission. Thank you in advance for your generosity!

By Nicole Patterson
Photos by Abbey Frisco, Hang Lian, Shawna Sherrell
Posted: 12/17/21