August 13, 2018
We write to welcome all of you to a new academic year and to offer a special welcome to our new colleagues and to those who have been away on leave. We look forward to greeting you personally at this year’s opening events, which are listed at the end of our letter.
As many of you know, we had a remarkable Admissions season this past year. While many colleges have struggled to fill their classes in today’s competitive higher education environment, we experienced an increase in yield for the Class of 2022. Consequently, we expect a large first-year class of approximately 760 incoming students. This class will be the most diverse in the College’s history, with approximately 30 international students coming from 12 countries, 155 domestic students of color, and 150 first-generation college students. To address the needs of a larger-than-expected class, we have added class sections and adjusted housing.
We trust that you join us in our commitment to supporting a successful experience for this talented group of students. They will benefit immensely from our meaningful engagement with them in the coming months and years and from our dedicated work as advisors and mentors. In fact, the promise of close mentoring relationships with faculty and staff is what has attracted many of these students to our campus. Thank you in advance for helping to fulfill that promise.
As many of you know we completed a process last year to approve an institutional philosophy about freedom of expression. We encourage all of you, and especially those who are new to our community, to review that statement as the year begins: www.gettysburg.edu/freedomofexpression. With this freedom comes responsibility, and so we must strive to teach and model for our students the importance of respect and empathy as we engage with one another—skills that are of vital importance to the well-being of our community and in an increasingly diverse society.
Work on our facilities has progressed well this summer. Of course the most notable project has been the renovation of our College Union Building. We’re happy to report that this 26,000 square-foot addition is nearing completion, as are some renovations to the older part of the facility, and the building will open as the academic year begins. The new space will provide a central location for the Center for Career Development and Garthwait Leadership Center—two programs that attract a substantial number of current students each year and that resonate well with prospective students and their families. We invite you to wander through the CUB after it opens and to enjoy the new Bullet Hole and Commons areas. In addition, our new Atrium, adjacent to the student Dining Center, will open for faculty and staff lunch, as well as special events.
Certainly, many of the enhancements you’ll see across campus, including our new Admissions Fourjay Welcome Center, would not have been possible without the generous financial support of our alumni, parents, employees, and friends during the Gettysburg Great Campaign. To celebrate our tremendous fundraising success—and to reveal just how far beyond our $150 million goal we reached—we will host a marquee event for our key donors during Homecoming Weekend. A big thank you to everyone who helped to make this Campaign so successful!
We have continued to make excellent progress on our new College website, which will launch in January of 2019. Thank you to our web redesign committee of faculty, administrative and support staff, and a student representative, who have consulted with Happy Cog, our design agency. The new website will enhance communication on campus, support student recruitment, and represent Gettysburg College in a more up-to-date and vibrant way.
The College’s First-Year Common Reading Program, titled ’22 Reads: Circumstances, Choices, Challenges, enters its fifth year featuring Bryan Stevenson’s novel Just Mercy, a powerful true story that serves as a clarion call to improve our justice system. We hope you’ll attend our public presentation with Anthony Ray Hinton on the evening of Tuesday, September 25. After spending 30 years on Alabama’s death row for a crime he did not commit, Hilton was released in 2015 through the assistance of Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative. Hilton is the author of The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row, which was chosen in June for Oprah’s summer book club.
In the weeks ahead, we encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to provide guidance to our Presidential Search Committee (PSC) as they search for the next president of Gettysburg College. In July, Charlie Scott ’77, P’09, P’12, PSC Chair and Board Executive Vice Chair, announced that the PSC retained Russell Reynolds Associates—a global search and leadership advisory firm—to assist with the presidential search. Later this month, the PSC will host on-campus meetings for faculty, administrative and support staff, and students on Monday, August 20, and Tuesday, August 21. Another opportunity for student input will take place on Monday, September 6. The PSC has also distributed an online survey to gather feedback, and they encourage you to respond by Friday, August 24.
Finally, we want to call out some important dates for you to note as we prepare for the start of classes:
- Convocation for the Class of 2022 will be on Wednesday, August 22, at 4:00 p.m. on the Beachem Portico of Pennsylvania Hall. This year’s faculty speaker is Megan Sijapati, Associate Professor of Religious Studies.
- The First-Year Walk to the National Cemetery will depart from the Chapel at 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, August 23. Darrien Davenport, Executive Director of Multicultural Engagement, will deliver his reflections on the Gettysburg Address. Everyone is welcome to join us.
- This year’s opening faculty meeting will take place on Thursday, August 30, at 4:00 p.m. in Masters Hall, Mara Auditorium (Room 110), and will be followed by a reception for all employees at the President’s home at 243 West Broadway from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Once again, we’re pleased to welcome all of you back to campus, and we look forward to the coming year!
Janet Morgan Riggs ’77 Christopher J. Zappe