Presidential Search Committee Holds Forum: Students Voice Hopes and Concerns

President Janet Morgan Riggs announced her plans last month to retire at the end of the 2018-19 academic year (Photo courtesy of Gettysburg College)

President Janet Morgan Riggs announced her plans last May to retire at the end of the 2018-19 academic year (Photo courtesy of Gettysburg College)

By Gauri Mangala, News Editor

On Tuesday, Aug. 21, the Presidential Search Committee brought representatives Jett Pihakis and Anne Coyle from Russell Reynolds to meet with students in an open forum in Mara Auditorium. Founded in 1969, the firm was selected “because they have outstanding credentials in higher education,” according to Vikesh Mahendroo, trustee and member of the committee.

Coyle proceeded to organize the forum into three conversations geared towards three separate questions.

“What do you think is special and distinctive about Gettysburg?”

Students spoke out about the programs that make the college stand out to them, including the Garthwait Leadership Center, the Eisenhower Institute, and the Sunderman Conservatory. They commended the faculty and administration for their accessibility and for their foresight to recommend students to internships and research opportunities outside of the classroom. Many students were ecstatic about the communities built on such a small campus, and stressed the importance of recognizing that while searching for the next president.

“What would you like to see improved?”

Many hoped to continue the momentum of developing Gettysburg’s understanding of diversity and inclusion. Conversations surrounding the recent resignation of many faculty members of color, including Professor Zakiya Whatley, and Director of LGBTQA Advocacy and Education Tiffany Lane; many voiced concern of a lack of diversity among faculty, and a lack of concern on the administration’s part. Lack of support for disability services and counseling services on part of funding made students question the college’s priorities.

“What are you looking for in a president?”

Students voiced a need for a champion of the student body: someone who is willing to help bridge the gap between faculty, staff, and the Board of Trustees. They want someone who is familiar with the workings of a small liberal arts college and educating students. Most importantly, the students want a president who goes above and beyond as president and is truly committed to their role in this community.

In response to the forum, Jay Hauser ’19 stated, “I want to hear more from, rather than the consulting firm we hired, I want to hear more from the committee itself. They’re the ones that are better going to understand the concerns we have.”

Hauser hopes to continue the conversation with the firm, but to also have a forum with the search committee.

On Thursday, Sep. 6, the Presidential Search Chair, Charlie Scott, will be hosting another open student forum in Mara Auditorium from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.

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Author: Gauri Mangala

Gauri Mangala '21 currently serves as the News Editor for the Gettysburgian, a position she has held since May of 2018. Gauri is originally from Langhorne, Pennsylvania. Aside from her work with the Gettysburgian, Gauri is the treasurer for the Owl and Nightingale Players. She hopes to study International Affairs and Anthropology during her time at Gettysburg.

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