Welcome to a new academic year at Gettysburg College!
I write this morning to express my excitement for you to begin your first day of classes. Today, you embark on a journey of truth, knowledge, and self-discovery. You will be offered the opportunity to see the world anew through rigorous study, hands-on research, and immersive learning experiences, but also through the relationships you forge with our dedicated faculty and your fellow classmates.
This past week, I had the privilege of engaging with many of our newest students, the Class of 2023, at Orientation events, from Opening Convocation, to the First-Year Walk, to GIV Day. In that time, we overcame extreme heat, pouring rain, and—if you can believe it—a squirrel cutting off power to campus! I can attest that this is a class of great resilience (and good humor), and I look forward to all we will do together in the weeks and months ahead.
I would also like to extend a warm welcome to all returning students who are back on campus. As a newcomer to this academic community, I am eager to get to know you, to hear from you, and to learn from you. When you see me around campus, please say hello and introduce yourself.
One of the joys of higher education is celebrating difference and our common humanity. We have much to learn from one another, and by embracing new voices, understanding different life experiences, and examining varying perspectives, we inch closer to cultivating a campus culture of openness and understanding. A dynamic educational environment—as well as Gettysburg College’s aspiration to graduate the next generation of society’s leaders—requires us to make further progress on diversity, inclusion, and belonging. This important work belongs to all of us—students, faculty, and administration alike—and I am confident you will help to foster a respectful environment where every member of our community can find themselves, be themselves, and thrive.
In that spirit, I am mindful of the many challenges faced by our undocumented students. Recently, the College urged Senators Casey and Toomey to cosponsor the Dream Act of 2019 and the SECURE Act. Please know that we will continue to stand by all of our students in their pursuit of a Gettysburg College education.
In closing, I would like to share three pieces of advice that I offered to our first-year students as part of my Convocation Address—advice that may help you all get the most from the year ahead.
- Engage with our dedicated faculty. They will broaden your intellectual, cultural, and social horizons and empower you to use your education for a higher purpose.
- Embrace difference and learn from it. A diverse campus ensures that we will see issues from multiple lenses and encourages each of us to interrogate our assumptions about the world and our place in it.
- Take intellectual risks. There will be few times when you are given such broad latitude to explore who you are and what interests you. Of course, this means you may fail along the way. But, as C.S. Lewis observed, “One fails forward to success.” If you live your life not to fail, you will inevitably come up short of your fullest potential.
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 transformative nature of this liberal arts education. Let us dedicate ourselves to the year ahead, take full advantage of the opportunities before us, and, together, do great work!