Dear Members of the Gettysburg College Community,
Abraham Lincoln once observed that “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” I am writing today about one of the sturdiest oaks this College has ever known, who in character and reputation alike has few peers: Julie Ramsey. Julie has let me know that, after 40 years of truly remarkable service at the College, she will be stepping down as Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students on December 31, 2020. She anticipates retiring fully from the College at the end of the academic year or at the conclusion of the strategic planning process, with which she has been intimately involved to date. I cannot overstate the debt our College owes to Julie and our very best wishes for all that is ahead for her.
Speaking personally, Julie has been an extraordinary resource for me during my first year and a half at the College. I consider her one of my closest colleagues and a dear friend. She offers wisdom and a perspective borne of enormous experience in higher education and at the College. A singular commitment to our students runs through all that she does. She is determined that we offer students the very best experience that both connects them to each other and prepares them for their post-graduation lives.
Julie has true and unwavering passion for this work, for our students, and for this community. It is evidenced in her long tenure, but also in my everyday interactions with her. I am sure that anyone who has had the privilege of working alongside Julie can say that it has been truly inspiring. There is a certain light that Julie brings with her—one made up of passion and determination to do whatever it takes to elevate and empower our students. She acts with a remarkable degree of collegiality, humility, and humor, all of which makes her team, and the College, both more effective and more engaging.
She has been the architect of many programs that today define our students’ co-curricular experiences. For example, she has overseen the expansion and transformation of programs including the Center for Public Service, the Garthwait Leadership Center, Religious and Spiritual Life, the Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation Initiative, and the Office of Multicultural Engagement. She also helped conceptualize and bring to life the expanded College House System and has long been focused on the quality of the first-year experience, including the creative approach to housing First-Year Seminar students together to bring an academic focus to the residential experience. Most recently, she played a key role in the launch of the Student Success Advocate program, introduced this fall and designed to help students navigate the college experience and bolster campus and classroom connections. All of these programs, and others, will have an enduring impact on students for years to come.
I would be remiss not to mention the extraordinary work that Julie has undertaken over the past eight months as she led the College’s COVID-related efforts. I had known well before the pandemic that Julie was anticipating her retirement, but there is no clearer sign of her commitment to the College than her determination to guide our COVID preparations and execution for the fall. As society and higher education experiences every day, the pandemic presents an evolving set of complexities and challenges, and I am grateful for everything Julie has done to help us navigate these turbulent waters.
In the coming days, I will have more to say about the leadership of College Life and our COVID-19 response pending a search for Julie’s successor. But, today is about Julie, and our acknowledgment that the College is a better place because of her. Please join me in extending a deep and hearty expression of gratitude to an unparalleled Gettysburgian.