Gettysburg College adopts new mission, strategic plan

By Jamie Welch, Editor-in-Chief

Gettysburg College has a new mission statement and strategic plan that will guide decision making for at least the next five years, according to a statement released Oct. 19 by College President Janet Morgan Riggs.

The importance of a diverse and inclusive learning community and the value of ethical leadership are two major changes to the mission statement, last updated in 2003. Riggs says these changes reflect ideas that emerged during the College’s 2014 Middle States reaccreditation process.

“The work before our nation—and before our world—is far from finished.”

“I am grateful to the many members of our College community who offered their ideas as we considered these revisions, and to Faculty Council who endorsed this statement prior to its approval by the Board,” Riggs said in an email to students.

Impact, Inclusion & Internationalization and Innovation are the three overarching themes of “The Unfinished Work: A Strategic Direction for Gettysburg College,” the new strategic plan for Gettysburg College released to the public on Oct. 19. The plan uses these three themes to build a series of goals the college hopes to achieve over the next five years.

“Today it is clear that the work before our nation—and before our world—is far from finished,” the 20-page plan reads in part.

“We face complex social, cultural, environmental and global issues: inequality and discrimination, hunger, war, climate change and disease,” the plan continues. “This strategic plan focuses on reinforcing that preparation, on preparing our students for lives of impact, for lives that will be played out in an increasingly diverse and globally interconnected society, and for lives that will embrace innovative approaches to the complex issues before us.”

The plan draws inspiration from the words of Abraham Lincoln, with quotes from the former president used to tie the themes together into one cohesive document that recognizes the influence the rich history of Gettysburg has on our campus community.

The Impact portion of the plan details the College’s commitment to “prepare students for a life of impact.” The plan says the College will work to achieve this goal by offering increased opportunities for undergraduate research, greater access to professional conferences and additional leadership development experiences through the GLC. Additionally, the college will work to enhance the opportunities for mentoring, networking and other experiential educational experiences on campus.

The Inclusion & Internationalization section of the plan describes a greater focus on the cultivation of “a diverse, inclusive and welcoming campus community that inspires a sense of social responsibility and enables our students to thrive in and contribute productively to an increasingly diverse and globally interconnected society.”

“We will promote an institutional culture of thinking and acting anew that honors the visionary leadership of President Abraham Lincoln.”

The College plans to increase the engagement of students, faculty and staff in issues of social justice through the Center for Public Service by promoting courses that include community-based learning and research and encouraging participation in social justice education and dialogue groups.

Another goal of the plan is an increase in the domestic and international diversity of students, faculty and staff as well as courses. The results of the Campus Climate Study will be used to inform efforts to improve the climate on campus, the plan states.

The final theme of “The Unfinished Work” is centered on increasing innovation on campus.

“To prepare our students both personally and professionally for lives of innovation,” the plan says, “we will promote an institutional culture of thinking and acting anew that honors the visionary leadership of President Abraham Lincoln.”

The College plans to achieve this goal by working to encourage and reward faculty for innovation and risk-taking, expanding programming offered through the Johnson Center for Creative Teaching and Learning, and continuing to explore opportunities to use new technology in the classroom.An increase in innovation will also be achieved through expansion and integration of entrepreneurship learning experiences, and the creation of prizes for innovation to be awarded annually to campus community members, the plan says.

The broad goals outlined in the plan will be utilized to develop more specific implementation plans that will allow the College to set timelines and identify funding, the implementation section of the plan states. Annual reports will be prepared by the President’s Council each year to allow the campus community to track the College’s progress toward achieving the goals laid out in the strategic plan.

“I am thankful for the many members of this campus community who participated in our strategic planning process. I would especially like to thank those students who served on our strategic planning work groups, as well as Provost Chris Zappe and Professor Sharon Stephenson who provided oversight for this year-long process,” Riggs said.

The full strategic plan and new mission statement are available to read below.

Strategic Plan:

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Gettysburg College Mission Statement:

Gettysburg College is a residential, undergraduate college of the liberal arts and sciences that prepares students from across the nation and around the globe to pursue lives of personal and professional fulfillment and to engage the complex questions of our time through effective leadership and socially responsible citizenship.

This statement is grounded in the core values of the institution:

  • The worth and dignity of all people and the limitless value of their intellectual potential;
  • The commitment to a diverse and inclusive learning environment;
  • The power of a liberal arts education to help students develop critical thinking skills, broad vision, effective communication, a sense of the inter-relatedness of all knowledge, sensitivity to the human condition, and a global perspective, all necessary to enable students to realize their full potential for responsible citizenship;
  • The enrichment of the traditional liberal arts and sciences curriculum with the most promising intellectual developments of our time;
  • The free and open exchange of ideas and the exploration of their ethical and spiritual dimensions;
  • The value of a lifelong commitment to service, and the role of the College in both providing an example of public service for students and fostering a commitment to service among our young people;
  • The value of ethical leadership that is inclusive, collaborative, and directed towards effecting change for the greater good;
  • Our conviction that a residential college best promotes the sense of community, central to a liberal arts education, in which personal relationships between students, faculty, and staff can flourish.

This statement was adopted by the Gettysburg College Board of Trustees and Faculty Council in the Fall of 2016.

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Author: Jamie Welch

Jamie Welch '18 serves as editor-in-chief of The Gettysburgian, a position he has held since May 2016. Jamie also served as the webmaster and as a staff writer for the features and news sections. He is a computer science major with a business minor. Follow him on Twitter @welchjamesk.

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