By Laken Franchetti, Editor-in-Chief
Yesterday afternoon, an email was sent to faculty from President Iuliano and Provost Jamila Bookwala revealing the termination of The Gettysburg Review. The email stated that the decision came as a result of finding that the Review did not significantly enhance the student experience.
Iuliano is holding meetings for the employee community throughout October in order to discuss the challenges and opportunities at the College.
“As we have discussed as a community, and will continue at our meeting on October 4, the changing demographic and enrollment realities across higher education require us to be as strategic as possible in the investment of our limited resources,” the email said. “We must have a more intentional focus on the programs and activities that directly and significantly enhance student demand and the overall student experience.”
The email to faculty members also acknowledged how the Review has been active at the college since its debut in 1988.
“The dedication, creativity, and passion that have gone into the Gettysburg Review over the years have enriched our community and the broader literary world. We are especially grateful for the Review’s dedicated and talented editors and staff who have made the Review what it is,” the email said.
Gettysburg Review editor Mark Drew and Managing Editor Lauren Hohle questioned if the administration truly understood what the Review’s mission was.
“There’s a lot of moving parts that the administration has no concept of,” Drew said. “We do a lot of developmental editing with writers. We are professionals. We do professional work.”
Drew and Hohle were informed of the Gettysburg Review’s termination at a meeting this past Friday, and they were not involved in prior conversations about this decision or what they could do to reverse it. The administration found that the Review’s budget could be used better elsewhere.
“We, Lauren and I, personally are heartbroken and devastated. We’re angry too, and that is the sort of thing that fuels us to keep going,” Drew said. “Honestly, in that meeting, we got the very distinct impression that they [administration] would have been okay if we had just left that day.”
In preparation for this meeting, Drew had been instructed to give the Provost’s office a “Welcome Pack” about the Gettysburg Review to introduce the new administration members to the publication and their mission. Drew and Hohle then discovered that the meeting was about ending the Gettysburg Review, and one of the administration’s arguments was that the Review did not publish work by students or faculty.
“My response to that was that was never our mission, which says to me that she didn’t bother to read the materials I gave her in that ‘Welcome Pack,’” Drew said. “It took me away from doing my job for something that someone wouldn’t read and didn’t read, and then it all resulted in that insulting and demeaning firing.”
Hohle shared her disappointment that the Review was not consulted prior to this decision.
“It is disappointing that the administration has had three years of financial crisis to have a single conversation with us and chose not to. There was no discussion about fundraising or how we could generate more income or further serve the campus with the curriculum reform that supposedly values co-curricular engagement and internship opportunities,” Hohle said.
Hohle additionally shared that the Review has expanded their grant funding by $20,000 during the past few years, yet the administration would not allow discussions on how to further fundraise or recognize financials.
“We’ve increased our funding, and there’s been no effort to talk about how we can make this more sustainable in their eyes, or even expand the way we serve the campus,” Hohle said. “We could, potentially, take on more interns, we could potentially be in more classrooms, like there are definitely more things we could be doing and we want to do, but there is no discussion about how to implement those changes.”
The English Department has worked closely with the Review to provide a publishing internship opportunity for students. The internship program started in 1995, and the Review has had approximately 80 to 90 interns over the time that this opportunity has been available. Hohle believed that the Review and its internship opportunity held a value that the college administration did not recognize.
“There is significant value to the Gettysburg Review that goes beyond our value to the literary community—value that I just don’t think they [the college administration] see,” Hohle said. “We are considered to be one of the top-ranked literary magazines in the country, if not in the English language—I don’t know of many other programs at the college that can make that claim.”
The Gettysburg Review, along with their student interns, will be active until December, and they have been told they are allowed to publish the final issue by then. The Review had already selected three interns for the spring semester, yet they will now be unable to take part in this publishing opportunity.
Current Gettysburg Review intern Savannah Metzger ’25 shared her disappointment at the Review’s termination, and she expressed her belief that the college administration does not recognize the importance that the Review holds for students.
“I just think the college does not realize that by eliminating the Gettysburg Review, it would stifle student engagement,” Metzger said. “It would take away opportunities from English majors and interns to come. The Gettysburg Review is what sets this college apart and this English Department apart from other programs.”
Professor of English Fred Leebron echoed similar sentiments and felt that the Review is a treasure of Gettysburg College.
“I believe the Gettysburg Review is the essential partner of the English Department in everything pertaining to the literary arts at Gettysburg College; that it is also a national treasure is beyond doubt,” Leebron said. “It is hard to reconcile these facts with this unsettling and stunning news.”
Professor of English and former English Department Chairperson Christopher Fee shared similar thoughts. He believed that the Gettysburg Review was something that the college could offer to students that was not available at most English departments across the country.
“There are a handful of English departments in the United States that could boast a major literary magazine, which offered their students hands-on publishing experience,” Fee said. “And we have, in my career, been one of those, and without that what do we have that’s so different from everyone else?”
Fee felt that this decision was reminiscent of another administrative move to end the program in secondary certification in English. That program was lost as a result due to the end of the education department.
“The [English] department was against that, as well, but our concerns were unheard, even as our numbers of majors and college admissions suffered immediate set backs,” Fee said.
Interdisciplinary studies adjunct instructor Matt Greene agreed that the English Department would suffer a significant impact due to the administration’s decision to end the Review: “…while English & the Humanities are struggling, creative writing is booming, and the Gettysburg Review remains one of the absolute most important journals nationally (placing in the top 10 in all categories in Clifford Garstang’s Pushcart Prize rankings for the last 10 years running). That matters because creative writing classes are filling, and the demand is only growing. By axing the Review, the college is impacting the English department in a few ways.”
Greene also expressed how losing the internship opportunity for students at the Review is an equity issue.
“Standard publishing industry internships are unpaid and in Manhattan, therefore inaccessible to any student from a middle or working class background,” Greene said. The Review, meanwhile, represents one of just a couple opportunities nationally for undergraduates to intern for a top-ranked literary magazine… all while still on-campus.”
Drew shared that the Review has received emails and messages of disappointment from former interns, alumni, subscribers and published writers.
Alumna Anna Audia ’23 participated in the Gettysburg Review’s internship during the spring of 2023, and she questioned the administration’s decision: “It is difficult to be a proud alumna when your institution’s administration terminates aspects of the College that made your Gettysburg experience so rewarding. Hearing that the administration has decided to terminate The Gettysburg Review both worries and aggravates me—not only as a former intern of the Review and as a student of literature—but also as a Gettysburgian.”
The Gettysburg Review provided Audia the opportunity to gain experience in the publishing industry, and the knowledge she gained in this internship helped her after graduation from Gettysburg. Audia participated in the Columbia Publishing course at Columbia University, and she credits her time at the Review as helpful in gaining that opportunity.
“Publishing internships are highly competitive and limited,” Audia said. “My experience and mentorship at the Review got me accepted into the Columbia Publishing Course at Columbia University and has prepared me with the skills and knowledge required for a career in the publishing industry.”
Audia then reflected on the administration’s decision and what this loss means for the college.
“The Gettysburg Review is an important tool, foolishly terminated by the College’s administration, in connecting Gettysburg with the nation. The Review is a national literary magazine that offers writers the opportunity to showcase their work. The Review also serves as an opportunity for new writers to debut their talent,” Audia said. “The Gettysburg Review is a place where writers from around the country—and even around the world—have brought their voices to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and shared stories and taught lessons. That sounds pretty important to creating a consequential education.”
In a message posted to the Gettysburg Review’s website, Drew urged supporters of the Review to contact the administration to express the mission, merits and impact of the publication.
“It was made clear to us that they know little about who we are, what we do, and what our value is, and could be, to the Gettysburg College campus. We encourage you to reach out to the college’s president, Bob Iuliano, and provost, Jamila Bookwalla. Tell them what you think of this decision and the merits of publishing great literature,” Drew said.
Editor’s Note: The author of this article served as an intern for the Gettysburg Review last spring semester.