Much like its pioneering namesake, the Donna Jean Brogan Center for Quantitative Learning will open doors and break down barriers in higher education. The Center, which was officially dedicated on Oct. 2, is designed to ensure that students master the enduring skills and breadth of knowledge needed in quantitative subjects in order to thrive in a society dependent on understanding the power and impact of data and numbers.
Funded by a grant from the George I. Alden Trust and a generous donation from Donna Brogan ‘60, the Center for Quantitative Learning, located in the lower level of Glatfelter Hall, provides students with a spacious and accessible 24-hour hub for quantitative learning of all kinds. In front of a packed audience of students, staff, and faculty, Gettysburg College President Bob Iuliano dedicated the Center to Brogan, Professor Emerita of Biostatistics at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.
“It is all together fitting that the Center bear the name of Donna Jean Brogan because she is an innovator, breaking ground for women both in her career and in her personal achievements,” said President Iuliano. “As a first-generation college student, Donna faced challenges that are familiar to many of our students today. We hope that her name and her accomplishments will inspire them to approach these issues with the confidence that they need to overcome their own obstacles to achieve great things and make an impact in the world just as Donna has done.”
Falling in love with mathematics as a child in inner city Baltimore, Brogan affirmed her passion for the certainty of numerical calculations and problem solving as a mathematics major at Gettysburg, where doors opened to new opportunities and helped her discover her career path.
“Personally, I am very grateful to Gettysburg College for the academic education that I received,” said Brogan, who also minored in chemistry and psychology. “Gettysburg solidified my interest in and fascination for math which I had held since first grade. In addition, it exposed me to statistics, via its Math Department, which launched me into graduate education in statistics, followed by a very enjoyable 36-plus year academic career in biostatistics. Through the College’s required courses and elective courses outside of mathematics, I received a superb liberal arts education and discovered many areas of study that I had known nothing about before coming to college.”
Brogan earned a master’s degree in statistics from Purdue University and completed her doctoral degree at Iowa State University in 1967. She was a member of the faculty at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before arriving at Emory in 1971. She has published more than 140 scholarly works and has received numerous awards, including the Thomas Jefferson Award for dedicated service to Emory University and Gettysburg College’s Distinguished Alumni Award. She has stood on the front lines as an advocate for women’s rights and equity in the workplace, becoming the first woman to register to vote in her own name in DeKalb County, Georgia in 1972, without first disclosing her marital status. Up to that time married women were required to register to vote using only their husband's name.
“I view the Center at Gettysburg College as contributing to quantitative literacy of adults in this country, and I am pleased to help support this effort.” – Donna Jean Brogan ’60
The Center for Quantitative Learning will provide that space for skill-building in quantitative learning, which focuses on numerical, categorical, or ordinal data found predominately in the natural sciences, including mathematics, chemistry, data science, physics, and many other academic programs offered at Gettysburg. This continuing education will provide students the ability to understand large datasets and how to scrutinize its misuse as well. Moreover, students will become more prepared for occupations that require quantitative skills. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor, quantitative literacy is one of the top three most sought-after knowledge areas among employers.
“Disciplines are becoming more quantitative in nature, but even more importantly than that, the world is becoming more quantitative in nature and we are well aware that these are skills our students need,” said Mathematics Prof. Darren Glass, who served a key role on the Center’s planning committee. “The Brogan Center will provide a place and structure to getting support to make sure all those students succeed.”
Overseen by Mathematics Prof. Catherine Frost, the Center for Quantitative Learning is open 24 hours and hosts mathematics and chemistry peer tutoring sessions from 7:30-9:30 p.m. every Sunday through Thursday. Many students visit the quiet confines to study, meet with faculty mentors, or use the expansive whiteboard surfaces on most of the walls and tables to work out complex equations with their peers. Glass and Frost envision more academic departments and campus organizations using the space as word spreads across campus in the coming months.
Brogan’s education at Gettysburg helped develop essential skills that served her well as an educator and as a woman leader in a male-dominated field. She encountered roadblocks often in her career, but being able to adapt and problem solve—skills she honed and developed at Gettysburg—allowed her to create a successful and rewarding path in higher education.
“Current and future society in a democracy needs an educated citizenry and a defined workforce to sustain and improve itself,” said Brogan, who retired from Emory in 2004. “I view colleges and universities as providing education, training, and skills to a subset of society’s citizenry and a subset of society’s required workforce. However, I believe that higher education also can provide education to future workers that is not only related to their future job or career but can enhance their future enjoyment of life and personal success.”
Learn more about how Gettysburg College is preparing students for a lifetime of career advancement and personal success through the Gettysburg Approach.
By Corey Jewart
Photos by McKenna White ’25, Abbey Frisco and Kailey White '21