Reunion Collation Address

June 1, 2024
President Robert W. Iuliano
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Thank you, everyone!

Thank you, Al, for that kind introduction.

We’ve celebrated a number of loyal and impactful alumni today, but there is one more I’d like to recognize and extend our deepest thanks to.

Someone who, in my view—figuratively and quite literally—towers above every other Alumni Relations leader in higher education.

I am, of course, speaking of our dear friend, Joe Lynch.

Joe, will you please come forward?

A few months ago, Joe announced that after 24 remarkable years championing our Alumni Relations efforts here at Gettysburg College, he will be riding his bicycle into the sunset to embark on a new adventure: a very well-deserved retirement in Delaware with his wife, Kelly, Class of ’82, and their dog, Milo, whom I don’t believe graduated from the College, but there’s still time.

At his very core, Joe embodies, if I may borrow from the Alma Mater, “the glorious Orange and Blue.”

He graduated from Gettysburg in 1985, having majored in history—and he remains a proud member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.

Joe played three seasons on the men’s basketball team and even earned All-America honors in men’s swimming as part of the 400 free relay in 1983.

After beginning his career in athletic communications at the University of Southwestern Louisiana—now University of Louisiana at Lafayette—where he obtained a master’s degree in mass communication, he joined the Association of Tennis Professionals Tour in 1993 as a Communications Manager and ultimately became the Director of Communications.

When Joe returned to his alma mater in 2000, he put those communication skills to good use, not only by forming lifelong bonds with more than 32,000 Gettysburg alumni across the nation and around the world, but also by sending—brace yourself—286 consecutive editions of our Bullet Points newsletter.

That’s an alumni newsletter every month… for over 23 years! Just extraordinary.

This commitment speaks to one of Joe’s most fundamental values: Connection.

Our people make the place.

As Gettysburgians, we choose one another. We support one another. We cheer for one another. We uplift one another.

Joe Lynch is a shining example of this in every way.

Joe, on behalf of our entire community, I want to thank you for your dedicated and truly outstanding service to Gettysburg College.

As a token of our appreciation, we have a special surprise for you.

Upon word of your retirement, an anonymous donor stepped forward to commit $25,000 toward an endowed fund in your name. Their generosity has since inspired even more alumni and parents, and current and former employees, to add to the fund—which now stands at $77,000 and counting!

Today, I am proud to share that the newly established Joseph W. Lynch Jr. ’85 Endowed Internship Fund will support student internship opportunities for rising sophomores or juniors here at Gettysburg—fostering within them the values of relationship-building and teamwork, two hallmarks that have defined your distinguished career.

This fund serves as a beautiful tribute to your enduring impact.

Joe, I know I speak for everyone in this room, as well as Gettysburgians across the generations, when I say how deeply grateful we are for everything you’ve done for your alma mater.

Will you please join me once again in congratulating Joe Lynch on his exceptional service to Gettysburg College?

Joe and all of our incredible award-winners are leading truly consequential lives out in the world. This is precisely what we want for our students as well.

This message was a common refrain at this year’s Commencement ceremony.

Two weeks ago, gathered in front of Pennsylvania Hall, we were joined by acclaimed film producer and entertainment trailblazer, Debra Martin Chase, who delivered a rousing address to our graduates.

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from this unforgettable ceremony.

VIDEO: Congratulations, Class of 2024! | Gettysburg College Commencement Highlights

Speaking of graduation season, we started a new tradition this year. A class’s flag flies over the Cupola on three occasions: Get Acquainted Day, matriculation, and graduation.

In years past, a member of the facilities team would raise the class flag. This year, the senior class president and I made it up the rickety wooden steps leading to the Cupola and jointly raised the flag.

First time up there for me, and I joined the ranks of people going back to the 1800s in writing my name on the beams, windowsills, and stairs.

I should note that the senior class president is none other than our own—yes, Marsha [Comegno], I’m claiming him as one of ours—Jack Comegno. It was a wonderful memory we will share for years to come!

Throughout our Commencement Weekend, our graduates often reflected on the people and the personal connections that made their Gettysburg experience so rewarding.

The same can be said for our graduates at Special Commencement, which is a separate ceremony we host each year for our senior student-athletes who are participating in the NCAA playoffs.

This year, we were honored to recognize six senior women’s lacrosse players at their own exclusive graduation. You don’t get much more personal than a graduation for six students!

Yet another reason Gettysburg is unlike anywhere else!

We had such a remarkable year for our Athletics program. Our teams combined had their best overall winning percentage in six years. We were even better in Centennial Conference play with 14 programs competing in the post-season or finishing among the top three in their respective championship events.

Highlighting the year were a pair of conference titles claimed by women’s basketball and softball, under the leadership of Head Coach and Class of 2014 grad Brooke Kalman—who is celebrating her 10-year Reunion this weekend.

Some more good news on the athletics front: This year, Gettysburg ranked in the Top 10 by the Princeton Review for Best Athletics Facilities and this summer they’re going to get even better. Thanks to the generous donations from a group of alumni and families, will be constructing new game lights at Musselman Stadium.

So, mark your calendar for Friday, October 4. Football will host its first-ever night game against McDaniel College and we will mark the occasion with the type of party only this campus can throw. It’s sure to be an amazing event! We hope to see you there!

As you know, coaches and teammates have a lasting impact on our students—so too does our devoted faculty. I’m sure even today, you have memories of a Gettysburg professor who profoundly shaped your life.

What is so transformative in my eyes is that our professors are intentional about partnering with our students to help them see the connections between their many passions—and in encouraging students to reach even higher in their pursuits.

Indeed, it is our faculty’s belief in our students to Do Great Work, that in turn inspires that great work.

Here’s a video that speaks powerfully to how our approach to student development is preparing graduates to thrive in their lives and careers beyond Gettysburg.

VIDEO: The Gettysburg Approach: Fergan Imbert ’16 on Communication

This is what Gettysburg College is all about—and this is what we’re seeking to build on in the years ahead. At the heart of our new Strategic Direction is a promise—a promise we have made to our students since the College’s founding in 1832, but one we now are being even more purposeful in naming and living: the promise of A Consequential Education.

So, what makes our education consequential? It is 3 things.

First and foremost, it is our people. The partnerships that form here. The belief we have in each other. This global community of Gettysburgians and how we care for one another and support one another.

Second, it is our place. These hallowed grounds that inspire us to take up the “unfinished work” of our time. And our proximity to major cities of influence that position us to advance this work.

And finally, it is our distinctive approach to teaching and learning—what we call The Gettysburg Approach. This is where we are dedicating our efforts and it’s also the focus of our new comprehensive fundraising campaign.

For those of you who have not previously heard about the Gettysburg Approach, let me say a word about it and why I’m so excited for what it promises for our students.

It is predicted that this generation of students will change jobs 17 times and change industries 5 times over the course of their careers. Just think about that. We need to prepare them for that future.

The Gettysburg Approach builds within every student a breadth and depth of knowledge and set of enduring skills to prepare them for a world marked by change.

We can’t just prepare students for their first job. We need to prepare them for the entirety of their career—10, 20, 40 years into the future—for jobs that haven’t even been dreamt of yet. And likewise, we need to prepare them for a world that needs their leadership, their engagement in issues that matter. In living a consequential life.

Today, everything our students learn at Gettysburg—inside and outside of the classroom—connects back to what employers and graduate programs desire most: those transcendent qualities that are the hardest to teach: leadership, teamwork, intercultural fluency, communication, problem solving, creativity, adaptability.

And knowledge and skills are being reinforced through our more intentional and curated co-curricular experiences, through what we’re calling our Guided Pathways.

Beyond that, every incoming student is now supported by their own Personal Advising Team, consisting of a Faculty Advisor, a Co-Curricular Advisor, and a Career Advisor, and after their sophomore year, an Alumni Mentor.

We just completed Year 1 of this vision and it is receiving rave reviews from not only students and their families, but higher education experts and industry leaders as well. We’re proud of that.

Here’s an insider’s look at how our new Personal Advising Teams work in practice.

VIDEO: The Gettysburg Approach: Personal Advising Teams

On the one hand, I know of few other schools focusing so purposefully on amplifying the learning impact of co-curricular activities and the curation of these enduring skills. And, yet, what we’re doing is so distinctively us, making full use of the type of supportive community we have here and the impulse of our alumni to get involved.

The Gettysburg Approach is Gettysburg at its finest.

Next spring, we will be actively recruiting our first cohort of Alumni Mentors for our Personal Advising Teams. If you want to positively influence the life of a young person, I can think of no greater way than to serve as an Alumni Mentor.

When the time comes, I’d ask you to consider raising your hand and joining us in this important work. It’s work that matters to our students and to the College. Your engagement will make all the difference.

Let me conclude.

Everywhere you turn, we see our Strategic Direction taking root. From the Gettysburg Approach to the faculty’s exploration of generative AI, to the launch and growth of our new online master’s program in American History, to the creation of our Center for Student Success and Donna Jean Brogan Center for Quantitative Learning, and so much more.

Gettysburg College is on the move.

Every day, we are taking yet another bold step forward—from a college endeared by 32,000-alumni strong to a college revered across the country and around the world.

Gettysburg is a special place—and your alma mater is poised to impact society in immeasurable ways.

This morning, my ask of you is simply this: Continue to Choose Gettysburg.

Choose Gettysburg by championing our education in your communities, in your workplaces, and online. Inspire a future student to enroll!

Choose Gettysburg by being engaged, getting involved, and encouraging others to join you.

Choose Gettysburg as a top philanthropic priority through your loyal support of the Gettysburg Fund and other priorities of interest to you. The College is what it is today because of generations of dedicated alumni, like you.

And lastly, choose Gettysburg by living our mission in all that you do.

If we continue to choose each other, if we continue to choose this community, I promise you there is nothing we cannot accomplish together—for our students, for our College, and for the broader good.

As one of my predecessors, President Milton Valentine, Class of 1850, put it so succinctly, “Our work lies invitingly before us.”

Again, I hope you have a wonderful Reunion Weekend. I look forward to building this bright future with you.

Thank you.