Gettysburg students engage in public service


President Riggs pens op-ed as part of Aspen Institute’s Summit at Gettysburg

This week, President Riggs, Provost Zappe, and a number of student volunteers will be joining nearly 400 world leaders as part of the Aspen Institute Franklin Project’s Summit at Gettysburg. The conference will focus upon how to enhance young Americans’ civic engagement through a year of public service.

Speakers and attendees at the event will include retired General Stanley McChrystal, Global Health Corps CEO Barbara Bush, Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr., and City Year Co-Founder and CEO Michael Brown.

In leading up to the event, President Riggs authored an op-ed as part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and The Franklin Project at the Aspen Institute to recognize the power of national service in conjunction with the Summit at Gettysburg.


“Ready to Serve: Fostering a New Generation of Engaged Citizens”

This month, hundreds of government, military, private sector, education, faith, philanthropic, and nonprofit leaders will gather on Gettysburg College’s campus for the Aspen Institute Franklin Project’s Summit at Gettysburg—and we are eager to join them in discussing how we might revive a sense of engaged citizenship in the next generation of Americans.

That’s because, as president of a residential college in historic Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—a town steeped in a history of famous leaders, politicians, and generals—the connection between education, citizenship, and service seems natural to me.

When the Civil War made its way to Pennsylvania, Gettysburg College stood in its midst. Heeding the call of duty, 48 of the College’s 116 students postponed their studies to join the Union Army in June of 1863. Just weeks later, as the Battle of Gettysburg engulfed our town and changed the course of the Civil War, our campus and community members sprang to action to tend to the wounded.

Months later, at the invitation of Gettysburg College alumnus David Wills, President Abraham Lincoln attended the dedication of the National Cemetery. In his remarks, Lincoln reflected, “The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here”—conveying the idea that actions carry far more weight than words.

This theme of action, particularly action in service of the greater good, has remained central to Gettysburg College's mission, and our students' commitment to engaged citizenship has continued to grow since 1863.

Our Center for Public Service provides students numerous opportunities to exercise informed citizenship beyond the classroom. We offer summer grants, internships, and faculty mentorship as our students research issues such as poverty, women's health, immigration, and food justice. Our students participate in weekly dialogue groups and host a blog where they share personal stories and sort through thorny issues of inequality. They attend weeklong immersion trips around the nation and the world, meeting community leaders who share their struggles and describe grassroots efforts to overcome them.

Experiences like these help students appreciate the complexity of social issues, the time and energy required to foster meaningful change, and the value of lasting community partnerships. They change the way students think about politics and policy, how they approach and treat others, how they advocate for those in need, and how they see their roles as citizens in their local and global community. They help students develop into engaged community members and leaders of our next generation—citizen-servants who will proudly answer the question posed by the Franklin Project, “Where did you serve?”…

You can read President Riggs’ entire piece on The Huffington Post.


Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Contact: Christine Shanaberger, associate director of communications/coordinator of presidential communications 717.337.6806


Posted: Wed, 4 Jun 2014

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