March strategic planning update

Message sent on March 17, 2021

Kristin Stuempfle, Chief of Staff and Professor of Health Sciences, and Timothy Shannon, Professor of History, update the community on the activities of strategic plan working groups, and invite feedback.

Dear Colleagues,

This past October, Gettysburg College launched its new strategic planning process. If you haven’t already done so, we highly encourage you to explore the Living Our Promise website and to read or watch President Iuliano’s address on how our strategic plan will help our students to lead lives of meaning, service, and consequence.

To advance this planning, our working committees are focused on reimagining the College’s programs, structure, and resources. We are very pleased with the thoughtfulness, creativity, and collaborative spirit that the committees are bringing to this essential work. Today, we’d like to update you on the progress that has been made.

As you know, given the extraordinary confluence of factors at play in this moment in time, and the unique opportunities such factors provide for us as we seek to elevate our educational experience and better our market position, we have established an ambitious timeline for our strategic planning. Please note that draft committee reports are due beginning in May 2021, final committee reports are due in October 2021, and the final strategic plan is scheduled to be approved by the Board of Trustees in February 2022.

Be sure to add your voice and perspective to this important process through our Strategic Plan Feedback Form.

Strategic Planning Committee

Members of our Strategic Planning Committee, in addition to coordinating and integrating the work of the other committees, have participated in deeply informative conversations that have highlighted how Gettysburg College may best situate itself to meet the needs of students and society in the years ahead.

At the Board of Trustees meeting in February, committee members—alongside trustees and members of Faculty Council—attended a presentation and breakout discussions led by Jeff Selingo, a leading voice on higher education and its future. The insights and forecasts presented by Mr. Selingo resoundingly reaffirm the aspirations and early planning of our new strategic plan, particularly as the demographic landscape for liberal arts colleges becomes increasing competitive. Attached are several articles that Mr. Selingo shared that we encourage you to read.

Strategic Planning Committee members have also collected information and solicited feedback from key College constituents, including the Alumni Board of Directors, BOLD Council, and Parents Leadership Council. The committee will soon be meeting with the President’s Advisory Circle, as well as current and emeriti trustees, to inform their thinking as this planning progresses.

Curriculum Review Committee

Our Curriculum Review Committee (CRC) is charged with advancing Pillar 1 (A rigorous liberal arts and sciences education). To broaden their perspectives, the CRC has read, reviewed, and discussed materials relevant to curriculum design and assessment. In addition, several members of the committee participated in the AAC&U Conference on general education, pedagogy, and assessment, held virtually in mid-February.

The CRC has developed a draft set of learning goals and outcomes for the new curriculum. The CRC administered an online survey to solicit feedback on these learning goals and outcomes. The committee has since been actively reviewing and revising the learning goals and outcomes based on the feedback received. CRC members will be available for Zoom sessions with faculty on April 8 at 11:30 am and 4:00 pm. Additional details will be shared soon.

To solicit student feedback, the CRC has invited 29 Gettysburg students, representing each class year and all three divisions, to participate in a Student Advisory Board. The CRC intends to host focus group sessions every month with a number of these students, who will offer reactions and recommendations to complement the committee’s ongoing work.

Finally, it is important to note that committee members have been a part of the conversations with the Alumni Board of Directors, BOLD Council, and Parents Leadership Council and also will participate in conversations with the President’s Advisory Circle and trustees.

Integrated Learning Committee

The Integrated Learning Committee is responsible for bringing to life Pillar 2 (Teaching students how to have an impact), Pillar 3 (Experiential learning), and Pillar 4 (Integration). The committee consists of three subcommittees dedicated to each individual Pillar. The subcommittees have worked to refine their charges and to clarify the key questions that will guide their approach.

The subcommittees are systematically reviewing data from a variety of sources, including institutional surveys and meetings with the Alumni Board of Directors, BOLD Council, and Parents Leadership Council. Committee members will also participate in upcoming meetings with the President’s Advisory Circle and trustees. This information is helping to inform what a dynamic 21st century education at Gettysburg College should entail for our students to prepare them to lead more effective and fulfilling professional, civic, and personal lives.

Teagle Bridge

The Teagle Bridge, funded by a planning grant from The Teagle Foundation, includes members of the Curriculum Review Committee and the Integrated Learning Committee. The group is focused on preparing students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences to have meaningful impact on the civic life of their communities—locally, regionally, nationally, or internationally.

Members of the Teagle Bridge and others recently heard an opening presentation from Dr. Ashley Finley, senior advisor to the president and vice president of strategic planning and partnerships at the AAC&U. Dr. Finley will be working with the Teagle Bridge group this spring as part of our Teagle planning grant. She shared how Gettysburg College can be among the leaders in higher education in creating civic-minded graduates. Attached to this e-mail is an issue of the AAC&U publication Diversity and Democracy titled “Creating a Civic-Minded Culture.” We encourage you to read the second article written by Dr. Finley titled “Defining and Developing Civic-Minded Institutions.”

Structure and Resources Committee

The Structure and Resources Committee is reimagining our size and structure to best amplify the College’s reach and impact. The committee also will work to better align our resources and expenses.

In December, a subset of faculty and administrative members of the committee formed a working group to prepare and circulate a Request for Proposal from higher education consulting firms to assist the Committee in meeting its charge. During January and February, the working group received and reviewed proposals, interviewed finalists, and conducted reference checks. Members of the working group also consulted with members of the Board of Trustees Advisors Group on designing the proposal process and evaluating respondents. Based on this work, the committee tri-chairs submitted a recommendation to President Iuliano for a final decision. The College recently retained Huron Consulting Group to assist the Committee in its work.

Also during February and March, the Structure and Resources Committee has been refining its committee charge and clarifying key questions. The Committee has reviewed and engaged in discussion of foundational reports and analyses, including earlier internal research on enrollment size options, summer hybrid courses, and summary report from the Sustainable Excellence Initiative, which our campus community undertook a few years ago.

Next Steps

As these committees continue to work with both wisdom and urgency to advance our strategic planning, President Iuliano will host a virtual town hall on Thursday, March 18 at 1:30 pm on the importance of our strategic plan in addressing the College’s present financial realities. The town hall will mirror President Iuliano’s message from a Senior Administrator Financial Meeting on March 2 and the Faculty Meeting on March 4. We encourage any Gettysburg employee who did not attend the meeting on March 2 or March 4 to participate:

In closing, it has been inspiring for us to not only see the dedicated work of committee members from across the College bring our new strategic plan to life, but also to hear from outside experts in higher education just how much this work matters and that we are on track in our thinking and planning. We have a tremendous opportunity at our fingertips to make a profound difference in the lives of a new generation of Gettysburg College students. A special thank you to all who are contributing to this noble effort through your collaboration, ideas, and support.


Kristin J. Stuempfle, PhD
Chief of Staff and Strategic Advisor to the President
Professor of Health Sciences

Timothy J. Shannon, PhD
Professor of History