Blavatt Resigns Position as Executive Director of the Eisenhower Institute
By Gauri Mangala, News Editor
On Monday, May 21, Provost Christopher Zappe announced in an email to the campus community that “Jeffrey Blavatt ’88 has decided to resign from his position at The Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College.” Blavatt had served in leadership roles with EI since 2007 and was its Executive Director from its integration with the college in 2009. He also served as a member of the college’s Board of Trustees from 2000 to 2008.
Marley Dizney Swanson ’18, an EI Undergraduate Fellow during the 2017-18 academic year, remarked, “Jeffrey was not only a wonderful Executive Director, but a wonderful person. He went above and beyond to make sure that students’ voices were heard at EI. Jeffrey always worked tirelessly to ensure that EI programs were effective and beneficial for students and for the communities they worked with. His creativity, tireless drive, and kind heart will be dearly missed on campus.”
Blavatt was not available to comment on his departure, which has already taken effect.
With former assistant director Ben Hill also recently having left, EI is currently being led on an interim basis by Susan Eisenhower in conjunction with Associate Provost and Dean of Public Policy Programs Robert Bohrer. Eisenhower, granddaughter of 34th U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, serves as Chairman Emerita of EI.
In an email to the EI community, Eisenhower stated, “In my role as the Chairman Emerita of the Institute, I’m excited to serve as the interim leader of the Institute working in partnership with College Provost Christopher Zappe and Rob Bohrer.”
The team will review the programs and offerings of the institute in the hopes of strengthening the experience that students gain.
Tension over funding and other aspects of EI’s distinctive expert-in-residence programs, one of the primary innovations of Blavatt’s tenure, had grown acute in recent years between college officials and certain students and experts according to numerous sources with direct knowledge of the situation who declined to be named due to their ties with EI.
Zappe and Bohrer denied that the college having a different vision for EI than Blavatt forced him to resign. They did, however, acknowledge their concern over sustainable funding for EI’s programs.
In a joint statement to The Gettysburgian, Zappe and Bohrer acknowledged the expert programs as the “foundation of the Eisenhower Institute offerings,” but stated, “We will need to make sure that our funding for EI programming is sufficient to sustain the existing programs, as we consider opportunities to engage students from their first year on campus through their senior year.”
Eisenhower and Bohrer will focus on engaging students in the coming academic year on programs relating to the legacy of President Eisenhower.
The Undergraduate Fellows, for example, will examine “President Eisenhower’s Vision and Values in a 21st Century Context” under new Harold G. Evans Professor for Eisenhower Leadership Studies Brendan Cushing-Daniels.
The college has not yet determined a timeline for hiring a new permanent executive director nor a profile for that position. That process is expected to begin later this calendar year.
Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Pontz contributed to this report.