Friday, November 07, 2008

Latschar Named New Head of Foundation

Gettysburg National Military Park and Gettysburg Foundation Press Release


Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent Named New
President of the Gettysburg Foundation

John Latschar to take over reins from retiring President Robert Wilburn

Gettysburg, Pa. (November 7, 2008) - Gettysburg National Military ParkSuperintendent John Latschar will be leaving his post on March 1, 2009 to become the new president of the nonprofit Gettysburg Foundation, it was announced today by the Gettysburg Foundation and the National Park Service.

“John’s vision and leadership are an important part of the successful public-private partnership between the Gettysburg Foundation and the National Park Service,” said Robert Kinsley, Chair of the Gettysburg Foundation. “John’s experience and dedication exemplifies the type of leader we are looking for as we continue to work with the National Park

Service to preserve Gettysburg for future generations.” Latschar was selected after a unanimous vote by the Board of Directors of the Foundation.

“Obviously, Bob Wilburn is leaving some huge shoes to fill,” said Latschar. “No one else could have taken the Gettysburg Foundation from a concept to the opening of our new museum and visitor center in eight short years. I’m excited about the opportunity to continue to work towards the preservation and care of Gettysburg NMP and Eisenhower NHS from a new perspective. My goal will be ensure that we continue our momentum, and to move the organization forward into a new era of philanthropy for the benefit of this and future generations.” said Latschar.

Working as a partner with the National Park Service, the Gettysburg Foundation raised $103 million to build a new park Museum and Visitor Center which has ensured the preservation of the Gettysburg’s museum collections and the Cyclorama painting. The facility’s 24,000 square feet of museum exhibits have improved visitor understanding of the significance of the Battle of Gettysburg within the context of the causes and consequences of the American Civil War. A final keystone to the project will begin this winter when the park and the Gettysburg Foundation demolish two outdated visitor facilities located upon the center of the Union Army’s battle line of July 1863.

“John’s background and perspectives as an army officer, a combat veteran, a Ph.D. historian, and park superintendent contributed to his success in addressing preservation challenges at both Gettysburg NMP and the Eisenhower Site in innovative ways,” said Dennis Reidenbach, Regional Director for the National Park Service Northeast Region. “The projects and partnerships he created have dramatically improved the park’s ability to meet its mission now and for the future.”

“It has been a pleasure to work with the dedicated park staff, our partners, and the community to create the new museum and implement battlefield rehabilitation to restore Gettysburg’s historic integrity and enhance visitor understanding of the battle. I’m also proud of our combined efforts with Main Street Gettysburg and others to develop the David Wills House, a National Park Service museum opening February 2009 in downtown Gettysburg about the aftermath of battle and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address,” said Latschar. “As President of the Gettysburg Foundation, we will continue to work with all our Gettysburg-area partners on the implementation of the Borough of Gettysburg Interpretive Plan.

Latschar has been superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park since 1994. He is a 31-year veteran of the National Park Service. Prior to his appointment at Gettysburg, he served as the first Superintendent of Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, PA, and in various capacities at the NPS Denver Service Center. He has been recognized by the National Park Service for his leadership numerous times, including being named Superintendent of the Year for the Northeast Region of the NPS in 1991 and in 2001, Superintendent of the Year for Natural Resource Stewardship in 2003 and for Cultural Resource Stewardship in 2000.

The Gettysburg Foundation is in the midst of a $125 million Campaign to Preserve Gettysburg, which includes the construction—now complete—of the new Museum and Visitor Center at Gettysburg National Military Park. The Foundation’s broad preservation mission began in 1989 and includes land preservation, battlefield rehabilitation, artifact preservation and monument and cannon-carriage preservation. The Foundation has more than 30,000 members and supporters nationwide and internationally.

Current Foundation President Robert C. Wilburn will step down March 1. Wilburn came to the Gettysburg Foundation in 2000, after being President and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

“Gettysburg is one of the most important places in American history,” said Wilburn. “It has been an honor to work to preserve this hallowed ground and to excite and inspire the millions of visitors who come here each year.

With John’s leadership, Gettysburg’s future will be preserved.”

The Gettysburg Foundation,, is a private, nonprofit educational organization working in partnership with the National Park Service to enhance preservation and understanding of the heritage and lasting significance of Gettysburg.


Katie Lawhon
Public Affairs Specialist
Gettysburg National Military Park
1195 Baltimore Pike, Suite 100
Gettysburg, PA 17325

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Anonymous said...

I find it amusing that in a recent Ciivil War News, Dr. Latschar defended the $380,000+ salary of the outgoing foundation head! I believe the attendance figure of 52,000 visitors are needed just to support that person. Quite frankly, for the low number of artifacts on display at the new visitor center (can't really call it a museum now, can we?), I'm puzzled by the "preservation urgency" that sparked this program. Can see it coming now, we got the new visitor center without visitors--we got to do something in the area to attract people to Gettysburg! Can we restart the casino? How about a water park? Maybe we'll get some collateral visitors.

Situations such as this have a habit of cleansing themselves after a few years and maybe a "new guard" will emerge. This past weekend we were in Gettysburg again, but we did not visit the visitor center as we used to do.

I really applaud what has been done on the battlefield. I disagreed with the new visitor center and will remain in opposition to this boondoggle. I just got a renewal form for the Friends of Gettysburg and will not renew my membership. There is just too much apparent "cozyiness" in the present arrangement.

VNVets said...

I appreciate all that you say. I think, however, that you should perhaps think twice about the Visitors Center. Even with the inflated prices in the gift store, and the snack bar, and even with the dearth of "preserved relics" on display, the building is an architectural gem in a perfect setting, and does provide enough space for all the NPS staff and the collections and archives. The storage is safer than it was in the old VC. And the newly refurbished Cyclorama is much more splendidly displayed than in the old building.

While I have a problem with the fee structure, at least the VAlue is there. $7.50 is not a bad price for the Cyclorama Painting, just a few dollars more than it had been for decades. I look at it that way. I pay for the Cyclorama Painting and the rest is free, no matter how the Park/Foundation break it down.