This year at Gettysburg: 2019 in review

Introducing Robert. W. Iuliano, Gettysburg College’s 15th President

Bob Iuliano at the Eternal Light Peace Memorial

As we prepare to enter a new decade, we reflect on this past year’s top moments that show our growth as an institution and our triumphs both individually and together.

Relive the best of 2019 by reading below. Did we forget one of your favorites? Be sure to share your top Gettysburg College moments on social media using #gettysburgreat.

Gettysburg recognized for study abroad

At Gettysburg College, a curious mind often leads to a colorful passport. For the fifth consecutive year, we have earned a Top 10 ranking from the Institute of International Education (IIE) for our study abroad offerings. The College also received top marks by The Princeton Review—No. 10 for “Great Financial Aid,” No. 11 for “Best Campus Food,” and No. 18 for “Best Classroom Experience.”

Learn more about our rankings and recognition, including the value of a Gettysburg education, and see why Gettysburg College ranks No. 8 in the nation (video) for study abroad.

15th President Robert W. Iuliano is installed

On September 28, Gettysburg College formally installed Robert W. Iuliano as its 15th president in its 187-year history. Iuliano delivered a captivating inaugural address that emphasized the distinctive role of liberal arts colleges—specifically, Gettysburg College—in the important work of sustaining our civic institutions and democracy. Then in November, the College launched a podcast hosted by Iuliano, entitled Conversations Beneath the Cupola. Its first episode continued that notion in a discussion with Harvard University President Lawrence Bacow.

14th President Janet Morgan Riggs ’77 retires

In June, Janet Morgan Riggs ’77 retired from Gettysburg College as its 14th president, a leader who led from within during her 40-year career here. At a surprise ceremony hosted by the Board of Trustees on May 3, the recent addition at the College Union Building (CUB) was named the Janet Morgan Riggs Student Center in her honor.

entrance to Janet Morgan Riggs Student Center
Photo by Shawna Sherrell

Jerry Spinelli ’63 shares wisdom with grads

During Gettysburg College’s 184th Commencement ceremony in May, the 611 members of the Class of 2019 graduated. Themes of challenge, failure, resilience, and triumph reverberated throughout. Said Newbery-prize winning author and commencement speaker Jerry Spinelli ’63, “My wish for you is not that you never fail, but that you never waste your failures.”

Watch Jerry Spinelli ’63 address the class of 2019 (video).

Ryan Bilger ’19 succeeds on Jeopardy!

Through five Jeopardy! games in July, the former founder and president of the Gettysburg College Quiz Bowl Club, Ryan Bilger ’19, won a total of $107,049. The former history major and Civil War era studies and public history double minor reflected on the extraordinary experience that garnered national attention and shared his success story.

Bullets make it to the big stage

Gettysburg athletics was prominent on the national stage in 2019, sending a total of eight programs to NCAA Division III Championship events in 2019. Women’s basketball, women’s lacrosse, and men’s lacrosse hosted national tournament contests, while wrestling and women’s golf continued their streak of appearances on the big stage. Men’s golf, men’s soccer, and women’s soccer also made triumphant returns to the NCAA Championships after extended absences. Long-time coaches Mike Rawleigh (swimming) and Aubrey Shenk (cross country/track & field) announced their retirements this past year. The two beloved coaches combined for nearly 70 years of coaching Bullets and played a part in 49 conference championships.

Students engage the climate crisis

As fall neared, not only did members of Biology Prof. Alex Trillo’s tropical terrestrial biology course share their opinions on the Amazon wildfires that started just two months after they visited Manu National Park in the Peruvian Amazon, fellow classmates convened September 20 on the steps of Pennsylvania Hall to discuss climate change. The Women’s and LGBTQIA+ Resource Center then hosted a follow-up conversation, which was organized by Lindsey Ukishima ’20, one of Trillo’s students.

Professor Alex Trillo and her students visit Manu National Park in the Peruvian Amazon
Gettysburg students visit Peru’s Manu National Park with Prof. Alex Trillo.

New academic programs, scholarship, and faculty

In October, Gettysburg College announced the launch of a new major in business, organizations, and management, available to students beginning in the 2020-21 academic year. Grounded in the liberal arts, it is designed to provide students with exposure to the fundamentals of business within a dynamic global environment. Watch Management Prof. Heather Odle-Dusseau explain the design of the Business, Organizations, and Management major at Gettysburg College (video).

Next in November, the Eisenhower Scholarship—the College’s most selective scholarship awarding $160,000 for four years of full-time study ($40,000 per year)—was announced. Then in December, the College announced the addition of a new data science minor, available to all students beginning in January 2020. It is designed to prepare students for success in a data-driven world. They will gain an understanding of interpreting, integrating, and communicating data.

Additionally this year, Gettysburg College hired five new faculty members who are Mellon Faculty Fellows—English Prof. Aristides Dimitriou, Spanish Prof. Aarón Lacayo, English Prof. Kalyan Nadiminti, East Asian Studies Prof. Yoko Nishimura, and Philosophy Prof. Mercedes Valmisa.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant provides financial support and research opportunities to diverse faculty in the humanities, as they acclimate to tenure track positions during their first year of employment. For example, Dimitriou, a first-generation college student with a disability and a first-generation citizen from a multi-ethnic immigrant family, has devoted himself to teaching and researching the literature of marginalized groups.

Magazine and website get a new look

To kick off the year in January, the College’s website,, was redesigned. Then in November, the fall issue of Gettysburg College Magazine, our redesigned flagship publication featuring a Q&A with President Iuliano, was delivered to more than 30,000 alumni across the nation. The latest issue sports a refreshed look and content in response to a recent readership survey.

Gettysburgives raises $2.09 million in 36 hours

On February 12-13, during the College’s fifth annual Gettysburgives Challenge, donations flowed in from across the country and around the world—all in support of Gettysburg students. Once again, the College surpassed its fundraising goals, raising a grand total of $2,091,274!

Your generous support benefits every Gettysburg student, every day. Please consider making your gift for 2019 by December 31.

By Megan Miller
Posted: 12/20/19