President Iuliano congratulates students on maintaining health and safety protocols and updates students on upcoming campus events.
As I walked across campus to Pennsylvania Hall this morning, my eyes were drawn to tulip sprouts just beginning to peek out from the soil. It is a welcome sign that spring is fast approaching, and with it the vibrancy and renewal this season brings.
One year ago, today, I delivered a video message to the College community outlining our need to suspend residential activities for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester. It represented one of the many extraordinarily difficult decisions, with the associated disruption to our plans and traditions, that the pandemic would present to our community. While this past year, in many respects, has been a long one, it makes the fast approaching spring all the more welcome.
Thanks to the remarkable commitment of our College faculty, staff, coaches, alumni, families, and especially you—our students—we are witnessing real signs of change and progress at Gettysburg. It is a tribute to this community that we were ultimately able to invite every student to campus this spring, with more than 1,400 returning to residence, and to provide virtual learning for many fellow students to advance their studies remotely. Our College employees have worked extremely hard to reimagine every facet of the experience we provide—from how we teach, to how we prepare and deliver our meals, to how we clean, to how we compete and perform, to how we gather, to the development of so many other protocols to keep our entire community safe. Our students, in turn, have made tremendous sacrifices in every facet of their personal and academic lives to meet these health and safety protocols. In so many ways, you have stepped forward and adapted—and through this helped make it possible for you and your fellow students to continue to gain access to a Gettysburg College education that has particular relevance and importance, now, in this most challenging of times.
I believe this speaks to the inspiring character of this community, our students, and especially our seniors, who are setting an example for all of us in their final months of residence of what it truly means to be a Gettysburgian.
As of today, we have zero positive cases among all Gettysburg College students tested on campus, and we have not had multiple positive tests in a week since February 17. I cannot overstate what a significant accomplishment this is, and how proud I am of every single one of you. We know these results aren’t easy to obtain. We lived it in the fall, and we see the challenges that so many other colleges and universities are confronting with containing the spread of the virus on their campuses—including the decision this week at Duke University to quarantine its students as a result of a spike in cases attributed to a student gathering. A consistently low case count, as we have experienced this semester, can happen only when every one of us is fully committed to our shared goal of a safe and successful semester together. It can happen only when we’re all in for each other.
I am very pleased to share, with our continued vigilance and low case counts, that the College is in a position to safely reintroduce more traditions and engagement opportunities for students this spring. Below are the latest updates:
- Servo Thanksgiving – The College’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner will be held on Tuesday, April 13. Dining Services will have primary seating and grab-and-go options for all residential students. We are so grateful to be able to bring this time-honored Gettysburg tradition back to our campus this semester and to do so safely! More information about dine-in seating and grab-and-go locations will be shared in the weeks leading up to the event.
- International Food Fest – A joyful celebration of culture and cuisine, our International Food Fest is scheduled for Friday, April 23. The event will occur outdoors on campus from 4:30 - 7 p.m. Additional information will be made available in the weeks leading up to the event. I look forward to seeing you there!
- Athletic Competition – Earlier this month, the Centennial Conference Presidents’ Council endorsed a plan for intercollegiate competition this spring. It is welcome news for our student-athletes, coaches, and training staff, who have eagerly awaited a return to the playing fields, so they may represent the Orange and Blue in competition once again. The Conference and Gettysburg College continue to work in close partnership with Keeling & Associates to implement health and safety guidelines that are above and beyond those currently required by the NCAA. While all in-person spectators are prohibited by Conference rules, the games will be livestreamed by our Athletic Communications team. Review the spring game schedule and virtually cheer on your classmates—Saturday is Opening Day!
- Outdoor Offerings and Ambience – You may have noticed a number of changes to our campus grounds in recent days. Outdoor seating, string lights, fire pits, table umbrellas, and our iconic Adirondack chairs have all returned, setting the stage for more safe and enjoyable outdoor interactions among students this spring. Our facilities staff has also set up large tents and, weather permitting, they will be available for outdoor class opportunities and small group gatherings beginning March 22. Please note that we continue to engage in conversations about additional opportunities we can make available this semester to take advantage of the longer days and warmer weather, provided cases continue to remain low. I’d encourage you to visit engageGettysburg for the latest offerings.
As has been true from the outset, our in-person events and offerings will be dependent upon our ability to contain COVID on the Gettysburg College campus. I am confident that, with vigilance, we will continue to do so. I am also confident that we will find innovative ways to bring our traditions and activities to life, necessarily in modified forms, for our students currently studying remotely. As I have shared on many occasions, we are at our best when we are benefitting from the participation of each of our members.
Of course, this year’s Commencement has been on the mind of many of you, particularly our seniors and their families. In an email to the seniors last week, I asked that our Senior Class Officers and Senior Class Advisory Group meet with our standing Commencement Committee to discuss what may be possible for this year, given the disruption of the pandemic and the associated health and safety directives in place, including from the Commonwealth. These conversations, while ongoing, have been very thoughtful and productive. I want to thank our senior leaders for the valuable insights they have offered to this process to date. They have represented their classmates and a Gettysburg education well. We anticipate coming to a decision shortly.
In closing, now one year into this pandemic, I believe we as Gettysburgians are writing a remarkable chapter in a history of a College marked by triumph and challenge. While our community’s path these past 12 months has not always been easy or linear, we are positioning ourselves—through your resiliency and commitments—to tell a story of perseverance altogether fitting of our namesake. Again, I want to stress just how immensely proud I am of you and what you have done to help the College in this distinctive moment in our long history.
In a year unlike any other before it, let us continue to partner with one another, and for one another, to make this spring as bright and rewarding as we know it can be.