On August 12, 2021, President Iuliano and Provost Zappe welcome the campus community for the start of the 2021–2022 Academic Year.
We hope you had a restful and enjoyable summer! In a few short weeks, we will be joined by four classes of Gettysburg students on campus. It is an ordinary occurrence for this time of year; yet, it feels quite extraordinary given all that we have encountered and overcome in the last year and a half.
Nelson Mandela once observed, “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” As we return to the familiar backdrops of our classrooms and campus grounds, it is important to remember that the events of these past three semesters have indeed changed us in profound ways. We have learned more about who we are as an institution; where our strengths reside; where we must strive to be better; and above all, amid the call for more globally minded leaders and engaged citizens, why we choose to offer today’s students a truly distinctive model of education—a consequential education.
At Opening Convocation on Wednesday, August 25—informed by the insights of our study on institutional distinctiveness—you will hear more about how we are beginning to articulate the defining characteristics of a Gettysburg College education. This will occur all within the context of welcoming a remarkably talented and diverse class of first-year students to our community. We are excited to host this special tradition once again!
Of course, this work of articulating our defining characteristics—who we are—has progressed and been informed by a number of other key areas of focus for the College, namely, the curriculum review; strategic planning; and our ongoing, College-wide commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Individually, each of these areas has the promise of elevating our Gettysburg experience. Brought together, however—as is the opportunity before us this year—we can intentionally and dramatically transform every facet of our liberal arts and sciences education, as well as the countless teachable moments outside of the classroom that equally give our students purpose and direction in their lives.
We are incredibly grateful for the exceptional work that so many across our community have put into advancing these institutional priorities, including the members of our Curriculum Review Committee (CRC), our Strategic Planning Committees, and our Bias Awareness Resource Committee (BARC). You have embraced this work on top of already busy schedules and full plates, and you have done so with the understanding of just how essential this work is to the future of our College. Please know that your commitment does not go unnoticed. Again, thank you for your service, your thoughtfulness, and most of all, your dedication to our students and our future. It makes all the difference.
It is because of the hard work of our people that we enter this fall with great momentum at our back. Likewise, it because of our colleagues’ exhaustive research to inform our planning that we have the traction beneath our feet to now advance these priorities. Our committees will aim to garner broader community feedback in the months ahead so we can refine and enhance our new curriculum, strategic plan, and DEIB initiatives—and ultimately take meaningful and necessary action this academic year. More information on how to get engaged will forthcoming.
As our students return to residence, and our classrooms, laboratories, playing fields, and performance venues are reawakened by the spirit they bring, may it serve as a reminder of how we’ve grown, how far we’ve come, the challenges before us, and why we are all stretching farther and reaching higher in this important moment in our history—as we chart the course for this great institution. We do it because we believe in Gettysburg College and in what this generation of students will mean to the world. Indeed, this is work that truly matters.
We look forward to a wonderful year. Together, let’s Do Great Work!