As the pandemic begins to slow, our society is seeing with even greater clarity the importance of educating the whole person. We want Gettysburg graduates to benefit not only from having met the vigorous demands of a high-caliber academic experience, but also from having had curricular and co-curricular experiences that have allowed them to strengthen their tenacity, creativity, and flexibility—qualities they will surely need to maintain their balance in a world that will continue to shift beneath their feet. Ours needs to be the education that will equip graduates for fulfilling lives and careers in the time in which they live. This has been, after all, the ambition and purpose of the College since 1832.
Today’s Gettysburg graduates are likely to hold many positions in multiple fields during the course of their dynamic careers. In fact, I was recently in a meeting of The Annapolis Group of Liberal Arts Colleges, where a leading higher education expert shared that this current generation of students on average will change jobs an astonishing 17 times, and change industries five times.
It’s up to us to prepare them for this future.
To respond to this charge—and in the spirit of our strategic planning process actively underway—the College launched its inaugural virtual January Term (J-Term) this past winter break, attracting nearly 1,000 student registrations. Our J-Term provided Gettysburg students with free, hands-on programming designed to build upon their classroom learning with tangible college, career, and life skills (read more on page 7).
I have spoken with many alumni who still look back fondly on their own J-Term experience at the College, and who fully recognize and value the transformative effect it had on their personal development. I am pleased to share that our students found this year’s virtual J-Term sessions to be equally as gratifying, as it further deepened the human and intellectual capacities they’ll need to thrive at every turn and in every pursuit.
I’d like to extend a hearty thanks to this special community of Gettysburgians, specifically our alumni and parent volunteers, as well as our faculty and staff, for helping to make our new J-Term such a treasured experience for our students. We look forward to expanding this offering in January 2022.
Of course, this is just one of the many exciting ways the College is reimagining its curricular and co-curricular experiences through our new strategic plan, Living Our Promise. Work on conceptualizing the programmatic aspects of the plan is actively underway, and we anticipate the entire plan to be adopted before the conclusion of the 2021-22 academic year. I encourage you to continue to add your voice to this planning (www.gettysburg.edu/plan).
While this past year has presented our community with many obstacles to overcome, it also has encouraged us, in the enduring words of President Lincoln, “to think anew, and act anew.” Armed with renewed confidence in our ability to adapt to changing conditions, coupled with our faithful commitment to the mission and values of this remarkable institution, Gettysburg College is uniquely positioned to deepen its national footprint in the years ahead, and deliver to our students a truly consequential education.
I look forward to partnering with you in this important work!