What a pleasure it was to see so many of you at the inaugural festivities last month. I have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support and good wishes from this community. Thank you for helping to make my inauguration as Gettysburg's 14th president so memorable. Your continuing support is essential as we look at all that is to be done to prepare our students to be effective participants and leaders in this changing world.
As I noted in my inaugural remarks (see page 10), Gettysburg College develops intellect, encourages initiative, and values integrity - with a goal of preparing Gettysburgians who will positively impact their professions and communities. This preparation begins for first-year students even before their first day of class.
The Ascent program offers a choice of several five-day, off-site expeditions that combine elements of community service and wilderness education. The trips introduce participants to the College's academic and social expectations and impart life-lessons about leadership and self-discovery. This summer's offerings included kayaking on the Chesapeake Bay to explore the impact of environmental changes and assisting the homeless in the nation's capital.
Back on campus on their second day of Orientation, students connect with Gettysburg's rich history by participating in the First-Year Walk to the National Cemetery. This walk is a reenactment of that taken by Gettysburg students in 1863 as they followed President Lincoln to the National Cemetery where he delivered the Gettysburg Address. Along the way students pass the Wills House in Gettysburg Square, the home of David Wills, Class of 1851. Wills invited President Lincoln to Gettysburg to deliver a "few appropriate remarks" at the dedication. Had it not been for Wills, Lincoln's visit and one of the most significant speeches in our nation's history might never have taken place. This year Bruce Gordon '68, former president and CEO of the NAACP, recited the Gettysburg Address and shared his reflections. He challenged students to "make your own history during these next four years."
In his remarks Lincoln reflected on the importance of action over rhetoric in a sentence that is familiar to us all: "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here." That sentiment is woven into our own sense that we have important things to do here at Gettysburg, and our belief that our actions informed by a strong academic experience will speak for us.
That academic experience is rich in variety and challenges, and our first-year seminars serve as an introduction to the rigorous intellectual environment students discover at Gettysburg. These seminars also acquaint students with the values that sustain a community of learners. To learn more about the variety of first-year seminar choices offered this fall, see page 14.
Of course, we continue to look for ways to enhance our students' academic experience. We recently launched a new opportunity for students with an interest in public policy. Inside Politics is a semester-long mentoring experience offered by the College's Eisenhower Institute. Kasey Pipes, a speechwriter and presidential historian, is this semester's featured Washington insider. The program will include discussions on current political topics as well as a visit to Washington, D.C., where Kasey will introduce students to key Washington figures. Inside Politics is one of several examples of opportunities Gettysburg students have to broaden their intellectual experience and make connections that have the potential to shape their lives.
Many of you have asked how you might help support our work as I begin my first full year as Gettysburg's president. There are many ways you can help. Certainly giving to the Gettysburg Fund is always important, but in this economic climate, these gifts are even more essential. Annual giving supports many critical areas - financial aid, student and faculty research, the academic and co-curricular programs. You can also assist students by providing internship and externship opportunities and by sharing your connections with high-profile individuals who might be interested in visiting campus to talk with students. Spread the word. Wear Gettysburg clothing and display the College name on your car; but above all, talk about Gettysburg with your friends and neighbors.
Thank you all for your willingness to share your time, expertise, and resources with Gettysburg College. It is a great investment in our collective future.
About The President
Janet Morgan Riggs is Gettysburg College's 14th president. She has served her alma mater in a variety of faculty and administrative roles for 27 years. From March 2008 to February 2009, she served as interim president prior to being named president. She also served as provost for one year, after having served as interim provost in 2006-07, a post she also held in 1995-96. Dr. Riggs was also executive assistant to the president under President Gordon Haaland from 1991 to 1994.