By Jamie Welch, Editor-in-Chief
Gettysburg College President Janet Morgan Riggs announced at this afternoon’s faculty meeting that she plans to retire in June 2019.
“It’s been a very difficult decision, in some ways because I feel so connected to Gettysburg College and I have such great respect and admiration for this institution,” Riggs said, “and there are many things about this job that I love. It has truly been an honor to serve as Gettysburg’s president. But, I’ve been in this role longer than I ever imagined…it will be 11 [years] by this time next year. That far exceeds the average presidency these days which is about six years.”
Riggs says the she plans to use her retirement to cross items off her and her husband’s bucket list.
“I have given this job just about everything I have to give, 24/7. And so, I made a deal with my husband that I would wind this up so that we would have some time to do some of the things that we really have been waiting to do,” she said.
The retirement announcement came as the college is preparing to wrap up the $150 million Gettysburg Great capital campaign later this month. Riggs was instrumental in developing and ensuring the success of this campaign, the first such campaign since Gordon Haaland’s $100 million campaign which was completed just before his retirement in 2004.
A Gettysburg alumna from the Class of 1977, Riggs received her undergraduate degree in psychology and mathematics, and she proceeded to earn an M.A. and Ph.D. in social psychology from Princeton University. Riggs joined the psychology faculty in 1981, where she served as department chairperson. Riggs has served in many roles at the college, including executive assistant to the president, interim provost, and provost. Riggs was appointed the 14th president of Gettysburg College in 2009 after serving as interim president in 2008.
Riggs is the recipient of the Gettysburg College Student Senate Faculty Appreciation Award, the Thompson Award for Distinguished Teaching, and the Woman of Distinction Award. She has taught courses in experimental methods, social psychology and general psychology and has conducted research in the areas of attitude attribution and expectancy confirmation.
During her tenure as president, Riggs has overseen many campus improvement projects including the construction of the The John F. Jaeger Center for Athletics, Recreation and Fitness and renovations such as the Glatfelter Hall renovation, and the ongoing renovations to the College Union Building.
Riggs has earned a reputation as a kind-hearted and beloved president. Riggs can often be found walking around campus and talking to students, and helps serve turkey at the annual Servo Thanksgiving dinner. She is known affectionately by the nickname JMR, a nickname which came seemingly out of nowhere but one which she has come to embrace, she told The Gettysburgian last year.
“It just sort of happened, and then I thought, ‘Oh I kind of like that,’ and so then I started signing things that way on occasion … my own children now sometimes refer to me as JMR,” she said.
A national search for a new president will begin soon, and more details on that process will be released over the summer. Riggs made it clear at the faculty meeting and in her email to campus that she does not intend for her last year in office to be a “lame duck” year.
“I will continue to be engaged fully as your president until my retirement in June 2019,” she said. “We have much still to accomplish together over the coming year!”