Garthwait Leadership Center Will Retain Name After Review by Board
By Benjamin Pontz, Editor-in-Chief & Gauri Mangala, Senior Editor
The Garthwait Leadership Center will retain its name, the college announced Wednesday afternoon, May 29.
The recommendation came from an ad hoc committee chaired by Charlie Scott, Executive Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, and was approved by the full board in accordance with a set of renaming principles unanimously approved at the Board’s May meeting.
According to the principles, “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.”
Garthwait has given more than $2.5 million to the college, most notably for his namesake leadership center, which he endowed with a $1 million gift in 2010.
The college released a summary of the committee’s work, which states, in part: “The ad hoc committee concluded that the controversial yearbook photograph is not reflective of the way Mr. Garthwait has led his life.”
The committee included three members of the Board of Trustees, Richard Scheff ’77 (who chaired the committee that drafted the renaming principles), Joan Schweizer ’76, and Scott. Flora Darpino ’83, a member of the Advisory Group that created the policy, served as a peer reviewer.
Patrick McKenna ’20, who is the President of Student Senate and was a member of the advisory group that helped to develop the renaming principles, said that, in his view, the Board’s handling of the matter fits into a “broader pattern of neglect” and that the renaming principles became a “smoke screen to appease students.”
“I’m disappointed,” McKenna said, “that it appears that rather than use the robust principles we developed in the naming committee it seems that the board just made a decision, used the principles as a way to deflect from engaging with the campus community, and washed their hands of the issue.”
The committee did state that dialogue around the issue should continue.
“The ad hoc committee observed that the College community would benefit form continued meaningful dialogue with under-represented voices in the community,” the report said. “These conversations should lead to a better community-wide understanding of the challenges these individuals face, as well as the actions required to address those challenges.”
“In addition, the ad hoc committee encouraged the Board and the Administration to provide support for Jewish students; to work to remediate any damage done to the GLC’s reputation; to restore goodwill with those constituents who were disappointed with the way in which this matter was handled; and to communicate a final decision in a way that will mitigate additional stress for the Garthwait family and the Gettysburg campus community,” the report added.
Cameron Sauers ’21, the student who originally found the photo, declined to comment.