College mourns the loss of President Emeritus Gordon Haaland

Haaland at the podium

Beloved Gettysburg College President Emeritus Gordon Haaland passed away Monday, October 23, 2017 at the age of 77 due to complications related to an extended illness.

Haaland was named the 12th president of Gettysburg College in 1990. Under his leadership, Gettysburg College strengthened its student recruitment and enrollment; enhanced its academic reputation and curricular offerings; and reinvigorated its campus grounds and facilities, all while advancing the College’s community relations and fundraising efforts. Haaland left office in 2004 having achieved his major goals, including the completion of a $100 million capital campaign.

In short, Haaland instilled an institutional confidence that propelled Gettysburg into the top tier national liberal arts college that it is today.

“Gettysburg mourns the loss of a great leader. Gordon Haaland was a visionary, a mentor, and a friend. He believed one of the most important jobs of a president was to bring people together and help them to see the potential in themselves and in the College,” said President Janet Morgan Riggs ’77, who worked as an executive assistant to Haaland from 1991 to 1994. “He will be deeply missed by our entire Gettysburg College community.”

The family has requested that memorials be sent to the Carol and Gordon Haaland Scholarship Fund at Gettysburg College, 300 North Washington St., Gettysburg, PA 17325 or made online. A memorial celebration will be held on Sunday, November 5, at Indian Creek Country Club in Kilmarnock, VA from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Other memorial celebrations will be held on future dates in Florida and Maine. We also plan to have a celebration of Dr. Haaland’s life on the Gettysburg College campus at a later date.

The Haaland Presidency

During his tenure, Haaland increased both application and enrollment totals, and expanded Gettysburg’s student population by roughly 20 percent. What’s even more remarkable, however, is that Haaland never sacrificed quality amidst this rapid growth—assuring that Gettysburg would become a more selective institution during and after his presidency.

In his 14 years at the helm, Haaland was instrumental in establishing new academic chairs, majors, minors, programs, and departments, as well as the Common Hour and First-Year Seminar Program. He also played a positive role in helping the Center for Public Service (CPS) to take root on campus. CPS has since earned national recognition for its approach to social justice and community outreach.

The College undertook several facility projects under Haaland, most notably the construction of the Science Center and Quarry Suites, and the renovation of Breidenbaugh Hall and a number of residence halls. In addition, Haaland and his late wife Carol also established the Benefactors Wall, which now honors the names of more than 60 visionary Gettysburg donors.

His commitment to the future of Gettysburg extends well beyond the physical campus, however. When Haaland arrived, the College endowment was $41 million, and by 2004 it reached $194 million. Today, the Gettysburg endowment stands at $314 million—thanks in part to Haaland’s leadership as president.

Haaland was also a driving force behind Gettysburg’s $100 million capital campaign, The Unfinished Work—which at the time was the largest fundraising campaign in the College’s history. It was during this period that Gettysburg secured its largest gift to date, $14 million from F. William Sunderman, Class of 1919, to establish the Sunderman Conservatory of Music.

Haaland shown on his inaugeration day, flanked by interim president Charles Anderson (l) and former president Charles E. Glassick (r)

Haaland shown on his inauguration day, flanked by Interim President Charles Anderson (l) and Former President Charles E. Glassick (r)

Timeline: Making Gettysburg Great
(1990 - 2004)


  • Haaland appointed 12th president of Gettysburg College


  • First Lincoln Prize awarded to filmmaker Ken Burns
  • Center for Public Service created
  • Latin American Studies program established


  • Environmental Studies major established
  • Campus fully networked with fiber optic cable


  • Biochemistry major created
  • Edwin T. ’51 and Cynthia (Shearer) ’52 Johnson Distinguished Teaching Chair in the Humanities established


  • First-Year Seminar Program introduced
  • Common Hour created


  • Haaland appointed by President Clinton to America Reads program
  • Theatre Arts major created
  • East Asia minor created


  • Haaland appointed to the NCAA Presidents Commission
  • Long-Range Campus Plan approved


  • Theatre Arts Department created
  • Extensive renovation of Paul, Rice, and Stine Halls


  • Commission on the Future meets (350+ alumni and friends)
  • Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era established
  • David M. LeVan Professor of Ethics and Management established
  • Benefactors Wall established with gift by the Haalands
  • Study abroad program begins to build


  • Board approves Strategic Action Plan


  • The Gettysburg Civil War Semester debuts
  • Quarry Suites residential complex opens
  • Largest class ever admitted from a record pool of applicants


  • The Attic opens
  • College kicks off $100 million campaign, The Unfinished Work
  • Benjamin Franklin Chair in the Liberal Arts established


  • U.S. News & World Report ranks Gettysburg in the top 50 liberal arts colleges
  • College raises $13.6 million in cash—the most raised in a given year to this point
  • College’s Moody’s rating improved to A2
  • New softball field constructed
  • New Science Center opens


  • College receives the largest gift in its history—$14 million to establish the Sunderman Conservatory of Music
  • Admissions applications top 5,000
  • Newly renovated Breidenbaugh Hall opens
  • Shirk Field dedicated
  • Asian Studies Department created


  • College completes $100 million campaign, The Unfinished Work
  • Haaland retires as president of Gettysburg College