From the President

From the President

President Janet RiggsExcellent faculty are the indispensable element of an excellent academic experience. But what does it mean to have an excellent faculty?

At Gettysburg, it means that faculty are teacher-scholars, dedicated to both undergraduate teaching and active engagement in their disciplines’ scholarly pursuits and creative activities. At some institutions these activities may be seen as mutually exclusive, but at Gettysburg we see a wonderful synergy that enhances teaching:

First, faculty who are actively engaged in their fields stay up-to-date with new developments, which inform their teaching. You would be hard-pressed to find a Gettysburg faculty member using the yellowed notes that you might remember from decades ago.

Second, being an active scholar or performer creates an invigorating mix of enthusiasm and humility. Enthusiasm for one’s work overflows into interactions with students both inside and outside the classroom and is often contagious, igniting intellectual passions in our students. On the other hand, critique of one’s work by peers provides healthy context for faculty as they critique students’ work. Intuition tells me that this experience makes for a more compassionate faculty member.

Finally, our faculty often take students with them on their intellectual adventures, collaborating with students on research and creative projects. Students become research assistants, data collectors, experiment designers, collaborators onstage and in the studio, co-presenters at conferences, and co-authors. These are invaluable learning experiences that provide excellent groundwork for graduate or professional school. These experiences are often the fodder for life-long mentoring relationships.

Of course having an excellent faculty requires significant institutional support for teaching and scholarship. Being able to promise this support is essential to attracting the best faculty. Providing the professional development opportunities that our faculty need and want is critical to providing an academic experience for students that is among the best in the nation.

One of our campaign priorities is to raise endowment for faculty support. Endowed funds can accomplish great things:

$50,000 provides $2,500 each year to support a faculty member’s research expenses, participation in a teaching conference, or development of a new course or teaching methodology.

$1.5 million provides a named professorship for a current faculty member, which is a wonderful way to honor and support that faculty member and secure that faculty position into the future.

$2.5 million allows us to establish a new named faculty position and attract a new faculty member who will expand the offerings we can provide to our students. For example, a recent gift from the Cargill Foundation will provide initial funding for a sorely needed new position for the vibrant Environmental Studies department described in this issue of Gettysburg magazine. Our goal is to secure an endowment to support that position into the future.

If you have an interest in supporting our faculty at any level, we would be pleased to discuss this with you. Endowments, both large and small, assure that faculty at Gettysburg will remain truly exceptional and will have the support they need to provide the high-quality educational experience for which Gettysburg is so well known.

As always, on behalf of today’s students and those to come, thank you for the many ways in which you support Gettysburg College.

Janet Morgan Riggs ’77

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