To the Editor:
American higher education is facing a set of pressures unlike any seen in decades. As the president of Gettysburg College, I wake up every day thinking about what all of this means for our responsibility to prepare students for that world. How do we preserve the essence of our liberal-arts education while also recognizing that the future promises to be dramatically different from the past? This is challenging work, but it is essential and has been our focus at Gettysburg College during my presidency.
For too long, higher education has been accretive — adding new programs to enhance demand and student experiences. That’s become increasingly difficult to do in an environment with pressure on cost and tuition revenues. College and university leaders need to make tradeoffs across competing priorities.
Making those choices is hard, but it’s also something the academy cannot ignore. At Gettysburg College, we’ve recently experienced some of these challenges when we decided to wind down The Gettysburg Review — a literary journal published by the College for the last 35 years (“Why Is Gettysburg College Giving Up on ‘The Gettysburg Review’?, The Chronicle Review, October 12).
The Gettysburg Review is well-respected, and rightly so. However, its direct impact on the student experience was limited and required a significant subsidy from the college. At a time when choices need to be made — hard choices —we have prioritized investments with the greatest impact on shaping our students’ future.
For Gettysburg College, our vision is focused on providing every student with a breadth and depth of knowledge, together with a set of enduring skills that will permit them to handle whatever life throws at them. This learning is being reinforced through strategic investments we’ve made over the past few years, including strengthening student advising, adding more resources to our career center, and developing a new program, called the Guided Pathways. And there’s more investments like those to come.
The complexity of the challenges facing our world compels us to prepare our students with a heightened degree of intentionality, and at Gettysburg we will make choices that continue to put our students at the very center of what we do.