Welcome Letter – August 15, 2019

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the new academic year!

The College enters the fall semester with impressive forward momentum, made possible in large measure by the talent, passion, and hard work that each of you brings to campus every day. We are grateful for your dedication and commitment, always in service of the College’s mission to transform lives and society through education, research, scholarship, and creative works. We look forward to working with you in the coming year, and to doing everything we can to support your efforts.

One of our greatest strengths is the community’s willingness to collaborate with one another. Let us continue to build off the progress we have made by finding new ways to work across boundaries, both in our academic and administrative activities; by further integrating the curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular experiences of our students; and by recognizing that the institution is strongest when we take fullest advantage of the remarkable talent on this campus.

That talent was on full display this summer, as students pursued a growing number of summer research opportunities through our Cross-Disciplinary Science Institute at Gettysburg College (X-SIG), Digital Technology Summer Fellows Program, CPS Summer Fellowships, Kolbe Summer Fellows Program,Digital Scholarship Summer Fellowships, and many other offerings. The rigorous student-faculty research undertaken this summer has been truly inspiring—once again underscoring the impact of hands-on research for our students’ intellectual development. We encourage you to read more about this research on the College website and social media accounts.

A big reason for our students’ growth and success, of course, is due to our dedicated faculty. We are pleased to share that several of our faculty and staff received grants for their scholarly and creative works this past year: Shannon Egan, Ian Isherwood, Amy Lucadamo, McKinley Melton, R.C. Miessler, Drew Murphy, Rud Platt, Dave Powell, Jennifer Powell, Sarah Principato, James Puckett, Robin Wagner, and Andy Wilson. Be sure to congratulate these colleagues when you see them next on campus.

This summer, we also pursued a number of improvement projects within our classrooms and across campus, including the renovation of several residence halls. In addition, we created two new serving destinations for students at the Dining Center—The Grille on Lincoln and Smart Eats. We are proud of the progress we’ve made and the efforts from many to make these changes possible.

The completion of these upgrades corresponds with the arrival of our talented Class of 2023. We received nearly 6,000 applications this past year and, in a few short days, we’ll welcome almost 690first-years from 11 countries, 27 states, and Puerto Rico to our campus. Almost a quarter of the class—23%—consists of domestic students of color (18.2%) or international students (4.4%). We have made positive strides in diversifying our student body over the last several years, but there remains much to do. A dynamic student experience—as well as our aspiration to graduate the next generation of society’s leaders—requires that we continue to enhance the diversity of our campus and to make further progress on the related responsibilities of belonging and inclusion. This work belongs to all of us, faculty, students, and administration alike. In the year ahead, we will look for additional opportunities to engage the campus in concrete efforts to ensure that Gettysburg College is a place where every student, from every background, has the fullest opportunity to thrive.

That work takes on a special urgency given the heightened level of discord and acrimony in society at large. As much as ever, society needs people, like our students and alumni, broadly educated and committed to working for the public good. Let us continue to model how an effective community lives by supporting one another, by celebrating our differences and our common humanity, and by acknowledging that our strength comes from the many forms of diversity found on our campus. In that spirit, we are mindful of the many challenges faced by our undocumented students, which is why the College recently urged Senators Casey and Toomey to cosponsor the Dream Act of 2019 and the SECURE Act. We will continue to stand by all of our students in their pursuit of a Gettysburg College education.

Operating within a national context also requires us to ensure our institutional footing is secure, especially given the realities of today’s complex and challenging higher education environment. We must continue to evolve and innovate to meet the changing needs of our world—an instinct deeply ingrained in the College’s fabric and history.

As President Lincoln observed, “As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew.” Ultimately, this means being open—open to asking ourselves the hard questions; open to new ideas and approaches in answering those questions; open to new ways of responding to shifting demographics, new technologies, and student interests; open to exploring new academic, co-curricular, and institutional initiatives to keep pace with the rapidly changing environment into which our students will graduate; open to discussing new means of doing our work and finding new sources of revenue to support our mission; and most importantly, open to considering new ways for how we operate without ever sacrificing who we are as Gettysburgians.

This year, like many of our peers, we began to experience financial implications brought about by changes in applicant demographics and philanthropy. These shifts affected our financial forecast, and we asked many across campus to examine their department and divisional budgets and to identify ways to take fullest advantage of their resources. This work is difficult, but it is an underlying responsibility we share as stewards of this institution. Ensuring that the College remains well-positioned in the evolving higher education landscape is a key priority for the two of us, President’s Council, and the entire College. We value your good thinking, voice, and support as we ensure that Gettysburg’s future is as bright as its past.

Collectively, we have chosen to be a part of Gettysburg College because we believe in it. We believe in our people, our mission, and the education we provide for our students. Let us dedicate ourselves to the year before us and, together, do great work!


Bob Iuliano

Chris Zappe