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. As always, we look forward to greeting you at this year’s opening events, which are listed at the end of our letter.
Even in today’s competitive higher education environment, we had another exceptional admissions season this past year, receiving more than 6,300 applications from 46 states and 106 countries. Our talented Class of 2021 includes approximately 725 students, and it is among the most racially diverse classes in the College’s history.
We are also pleased with how our recent graduates are performing beyond Gettysburg. Our “One-Year-Out” survey indicates that 98% of the Class of 2016 is now employed or attending graduate/professional school. This is a testament to the high quality education we provide here at Gettysburg College.
Our strategic plan, adopted last year by our Board of Trustees, builds upon this strong student preparation and is designed to equip Gettysburg graduates to tackle the challenges of our time. The Unfinished Work: A Strategic Direction for Gettysburg College focuses on three key themes—Impact, Inclusion and Internationalization, and Innovation—and thanks to the work of many, its influence is already being felt across campus. A great example of this is our most recent $800,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This grant will help us enhance our curriculum and improve the hiring and retention of diverse faculty in the humanities. As we move forward this academic year, we will also advance newly established strategic priorities in support of the student learning experience both within and outside the Academic Division. Specifically, we plan to expand opportunities for students to apply their academic experience through high-impact educational practices such as faculty-mentored research and creative activity, leadership and career development experiences, and community-based learning and research. Moreover, we will explore the best ways to provide our students with outstanding mentoring, advising, and support from our faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and peers. To support that effort we will establish a Mentoring Working Group, which will include members of the faculty and administration, to guide our efforts in this area.
As you know, fundraising continues to be a key priority for supporting academic strength and our overall health as an institution. Our Campaign enters its seventh and final year with tremendous momentum. Since the public launch of our Gettysburg Great Campaign three years ago, our alumni, parents, employees, and friends have embraced and advanced our five priorities: global initiatives, scholarships, faculty support, engaged learning opportunities, and annual giving. To date, we have raised more than $136 million of our $150 million goal. This is a tremendous accomplishment in which we hope all members of our community take great pride.
Certainly Gettysburg is on the move—and there’s no greater visual representation of this progress than our current facilities projects.
Our new Admissions Welcome Center—a 4,500 square-foot addition to the Eisenhower House—is on pace to open this fall. The addition will provide a beautiful reception space for visiting families and our broader campus community, as well as much needed interview rooms and offices for our admissions staff.
This summer, we also kicked off a substantial renovation of our College Union Building (CUB), as we replace the old swimming pool and Bullet Hole with a 26,000 square-foot addition. The new space will allow us to provide a central location for the Center for Career Development and Garthwait Leadership Center—two programs that are attracting a substantial number of our students each year and that resonate well with prospective students and their families.
In the coming weeks, we will complete an addition to the west side of our Dining Hall that will serve as the temporary Bullet Hole while the CUB is under construction. Currently, we are also pursuing a number of smaller-scale facilities upgrades related to our inclusion and internationalization efforts. Specifically, we have relocated and enriched our International House, and we are working to do the same for our Office of Multicultural Engagement and Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.
We appreciate your patience as we make these important upgrades to our campus.
There is no doubt that freedom of expression will continue to be an area of focus on our campus and on campuses across the country. It seems important that we, as a community, review our current related statements and policies and work towards a new institutional statement on the freedom of expression. This process will involve collaboration among faculty, administration, staff, students, and trustees. More information will be forthcoming as we open the new year.
We are pleased to announce that over the next year, a committee of faculty, administrative, support staff, and student representatives will partner with an outside firm to redesign the Gettysburg College website, which is now 11 years old. The new website is scheduled to launch in January of 2019. In addition, the College will conduct a study this fall to gain further insights about how best to advance the College’s academic reputation by helping us to articulate “who we are” as an institution. There will be many opportunities for members of our community to be involved with this important work, and we strongly encourage you to participate.
The College’s First-Year Common Reading Program, titled'21 Reads: Circumstances, Choices, Challenges, enters its fourth year featuring Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, a novel that delves into the power of art, fame, friendship, and love. Mandel will give a public presentation on Tuesday, September 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the CUB Ballroom, and the entire first-year class will engage in small group discussions about the book on Thursday, September 14. For more information on the novel and Emily St. John Mandel, please access the library’s first-year reading website:
Finally, we have some important dates for you to note as we prepare for the start of classes:
- Convocation for the Class of 2021 will be on Wednesday, August 23, at 4:00 p.m. on the Beachem Portico of Pennsylvania Hall. This year’s faculty speaker is McKinley Melton, Assistant Professor of English.
- The First-Year Walk to the National Cemetery will depart from the Chapel at 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, August 24. Jennifer Bloomquist, Associate Provost for Faculty Development, Dean of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Programs and Associate Professor of Africana Studies, will deliver her reflections on the Gettysburg Address.
- This year’s opening faculty meeting will take place on Thursday, August 31, at 4:00 p.m. in Masters Hall, Mara Auditorium (Room 110), followed by a reception at the President’s home at 243 West Broadway from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Once again, we extend a warm welcome to all of you. We look forward to all that we will accomplish together this year!
Janet Morgan Riggs ’77 Christopher J. Zappe