Board Releases Renaming Principles, Forms Committee to Weigh Garthwait

(Photo courtesy of Gettysburg College)

(Photo courtesy of Gettysburg College)

By Benjamin Pontz, Editor-in-Chief

The Board of Trustees approved a policy entitled “Policy for Renaming Principles and Process” over the weekend, Board Chair David Brennan ’75 announced in a campus-wide email disseminated Sunday afternoon.

The principles were proposed to the Board by an advisory group composed of trustees, faculty, staff, and students. That group, chaired by Trustee Richard Scheff ’77, held a series of listening sessions on campus on Apr. 22 and solicited further feedback via a web-based form.

Brennan said the Board unanimously approved the group’s recommended principles.

The two principles that speak directly to whether to rename a college entity, which could include a building, program, or scholarship, are:

  1. Renaming is an exceptional event and the decision should be made only after careful and deliberate consideration. There is a strong presumption against renaming, and in evaluating the information available, substantial weight shall be given in favor of continuity. The presumption against renaming is at its strongest when a building or program has been named for someone who has made major contributions to the College
  2. Renaming should be strongly considered where the actions or words of a namesake directly conflict with the College’s mission statement and the core values of the institution. In reviewing the matter, the actions or words should not be taken in isolation. They must be evaluated as part of a holistic approach that considers the historical context of the conduct and the individual’s larger patterns of behavior and personal values.
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Guided by these principles, the Board has convened an ad hoc committee to consider renaming the Garthwait Leadership Center. Executive Vice Chair of the Board Charlie Scott ’77, who most recently chaired the Presidential Search Committee, will chair this ad hoc committee and make a recommendation to the full Board of Trustees “within the next few weeks,” Brennan said. From there, the Board will vote, and, according to the newly-approved policies, their decision is final.

Controversy around Former Trustee Bob Garthwait ’82 spurred the creation of the initial advisory group. In February, a photo of Garthwait wearing Nazi regalia as part of a “Hogan’s Heroes”-themed fraternity party was found in the 1980 edition of Spectrum, the college yearbook. At the time, Garthwait resigned from the Board of Trustees. He has given more than $2.5 million to the college over the years, a wall in the College Union Building states.

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Author: Benjamin Pontz

Benjamin Pontz '20 serves as editor-in-chief of The Gettysburgian. Previously, he served as a staff writer, event coverage coordinator, news editor, and managing news editor. During his tenure, he has written more than 150 articles, and he led the team that won first place in the 2017 Keystone Press Awards for ongoing news coverage of Robert Spencer's visit to Gettysburg College and co-wrote the package of editorials that won first place in the 2018 Keystone Press Awards. Ben is a political science and public policy double major with a minor in music, and he reads up to seven newspapers daily. Follow him on Twitter @benpontz.

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1 Comment

  1. Please make sure that along with the “renaming”, a check is returned to Mr. Garthwait for the full amount he has graciously given in support of the colleges “mission and principles “ After all, it only seems fair that once the college has determined his costume of a 40 year old sitcom is not in support of its “mission” , neither should his financial contributions be deemed in line with its “principles “.

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