Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,

I hope the summer months left you rested and restored for what I know will be an exciting 2015-16 academic year. We begin the semester with challenges to overcome, opportunities on which to act and accomplishments to celebrate. Under the latter, my thanks to all of you who worked to make possible a very successful New Student Orientation program, culminating with Convocation and another beautiful Candlelighting ceremony. You'll find more online about these events, including photo highlights. I also invite you to watch this brief video, which captures the essence of what is always an exciting time at Bucknell.

Below is my annual update on summer and fall initiatives. I wish you great success as we embark on another academic year together, and offer my sincere gratitude for your commitment to each other, to our students and to Bucknell.

My best,

John

 

New Students

As you'll recall, Bucknell received a record number of applications for admittance into the Class of 2019. Thanks in large part to the good work of our Admissions team, along with significant contributions from many of our faculty and staff colleagues, alumni and parents, we are happy to welcome to Bucknell 940 new first-year students, along with 22 transfer students, 17 of whom are Bucknell Community College Scholars. Once again, our new class comprises students whose academic accomplishments meet or exceed those of previous classes, demonstrating our continued ability to compete with some of the country's top colleges and universities for these talented individuals. This is also the most diverse group of incoming students in Bucknell's 169-year history. More than 23 percent are students of color and more than 5 percent are international students. In addition, more than 11 percent are first-generation students. They come to Lewisburg from 32 states and the District of Columbia, and 37 countries. I invite you to learn more about the Class of 2019.

New Faculty

A deeply committed, academically rich faculty is critical to delivering the promise we make to all of our students, and to the very reason this institution exists. I am pleased that upon completion of two-dozen national searches, we welcome the following new tenure-line faculty to Bucknell this fall:

  • Philip Asare, assistant professor of electrical & computer engineering
  • Peter Raphael (Rafe) Dalleo, associate professor of English
  • Christopher Dancy, assistant professor of computer science
  • Ken Eisenstein, assistant professor of English
  • Catherine (Cymone) Fourshey, associate professor of history and international relations
  • Mai-Linh Hong, assistant professor of English
  • Deepak Iyer, assistant professor of physics & astronomy
  • Nicholas Jones, assistant professor of Spanish
  • Jennifer Kosmin, assistant professor of history
  • Katarzyna (Kat) Lecky, assistant professor of English
  • Carl Shu-Ming Lin, assistant professor of economics
  • Elena Machado Saez, professor of English
  • Emily Martin-Moberley, assistant professor of music
  • Darakhshan Mir, assistant professor of computer science
  • Ilona Moore, assistant professor of international relations
  • John Penniman, assistant professor of religious studies
  • David Rojas, assistant professor of Latin American studies
  • Andrew Sloboda, assistant professor of mechanical engineering
  • Ibrahim Sulai, assistant professor of physics & astronomy
  • Jennifer Thomson, assistant professor of history
  • Durul Ulutan, assistant professor of mechanical engineering
  • Brian Utter, associate professor of physics & astronomy
  • Corrie Walton-Macaulay, assistant professor of civil & environmental engineering
  • Beth C. Willer, assistant professor of music

Congratulations to our newest faculty members. We look forward to the myriad contributions you will undoubtedly make to the Bucknell community.

Administrative Changes

Many of you have already had an opportunity to meet our new provost, Barbara Altmann, who officially joined us on Aug. 1. You can read more about her background and academic interests . As I shared with you earlier this month, Barbara's arrival is one of several important additions and changes to the University's Operations & Management Group. The others include:

  • Naming Andy Hirsch as our chief communications officer
  • Promoting Pierre Joanis to vice president for human resources
  • Naming Amy Badal as our dean of students

Again, congratulations to Barbara, Andy, Pierre and Amy on these well-earned positions. We are also in the midst of another important executive search. As announced during the summer, Keith Buffinton has decided to step down as dean of the College of Engineering at the end of this academic year so that he can turn his attention back to what initially brought him to Bucknell: working directly with our students in the classroom as a professor of mechanical engineering. We will of course find time to formally celebrate Keith's many contributions to the College of Engineering and to Bucknell. I would like to thank Professor Dan Cavanagh, biomedical engineering, for chairing the search for our next dean, and to the other members of the committee for the time they have and will continue to invest in this process. Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates, one of the country's foremost recruiting firms specializing in higher education, will assist the group with this endeavor.

Diversity and Inclusion

We began the semester with an ugly reminder that our diversity and inclusion work is both challenging and necessary. We must continue to confront discrimination on our campus. In the days ahead, we will share the first annual report of the Diversity Plan (pdf) from the President's Diversity Council providing an overview of the key indicators related to the Plan's stated goals, and updating the community on our efforts toward creating a more inclusive Bucknell. I look forward to continued dialogue and action on this critical topic.

Middle States Update

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education requires a five-year periodic review report (PRR) that examines, among other key institutional areas, the University's progress toward the recommendations made in the 2014 re-accreditation evaluation. Bucknell's PRR is due June 1, 2019.

While not as intensive or as wide in scope as the 2014 self-study, the PRR process involves a significant amount of planning, data collection and analysis, drafting and review by the University community. To allow adequate time for Bucknell to complete a thorough and high-quality report, the University will soon convene a steering committee. I am pleased that Professors Tom Solomon, physics, and Katie Faull, German and humanities, have agreed to extend their excellent leadership of the successful decennial renewal process by co-chairing the PRR steering committee, which also includes:

  • Barbara Altmann
  • Amy Badal
  • Param Bedi
  • Keith Buffinton
  • Kim Daubman
  • Kevork Horissian
  • Michael Johnson-Cramer
  • Carol Kennedy 
  • Ed Loftus 
  • Molly O'Brien-Foelsch
  • George Shields

You may review our self-study and other Middle States material, including the visiting team's final reaccreditation report (pdf). The report includes the six recommendations the PRR is required to address. These recommendations focus on student engagement, campus climate, diversity and student learning. The PRR will also cover significant changes and challenges that have occurred since the last evaluation, enrollment trends and financial status and projections, the status of implementation of assessment of academics and student learning, and the extent to which linked institutional planning and budgeting processes are in place.

My thanks in advance to Katie, Tom and the members of the steering committee for this important work on behalf of Bucknell.

Residence Halls and Campus Construction Projects

If you haven't yet had an opportunity to visit the new South Campus Apartments, I encourage you to do so. Officially opened this month, the 165,000-square-foot complex is simply stunning. The four new residence halls feature apartment-style living for more than 340 students. The Commons Building includes a beautiful, open multi-purpose room, several lounge and hearth spaces, and The Commons Cafe, an à la carte restaurant with booth and table seating for 80. The grounds offer spectacular views, particularly facing north toward Academic West, and unique features, such as an outdoor classroom space. This story offers more details, as well as several photos. Please also enjoy this brief time-lapse video that shows the construction of the complex in just about two minutes.

Meanwhile, the restoration of the Carnegie Building is underway and on pace for completion by early 2016. When it first opened as the Carnegie Library in 1905, the open space housed the University's book collection and offered hearth space for students, naturally lit by skylights that peered down through the atrium. As its purpose changed over the decades, the building's character was lost. Space constraints forced the construction of a second floor for offices and classrooms, eliminating the atrium and skylights, and hiding nearly every source of natural light behind office doors. The work underway there will restore Carnegie back to its original elegance, bringing back the atrium, mezzanine and skylights, and will provide additional student lounge and study areas. It will also include offices and other spaces for student and academic support services.

You've also likely noticed that crews have broken ground on the Graham Building, just to the east of Sojka Pavilion. The Graham Building will be home to our new Health & Wellness Center, and will include Bucknell Student Health and our Counseling & Student Development Center. It will also house a new wrestling center comprising locker rooms, practice areas and additional student-centered spaces, including those for academic support and athletic training. This project was made possible by the extreme generosity of Trustee Emeritus Bill Graham '62. My deepest gratitude to Bill for his passion and commitment to Bucknell.

The WE DO Campaign

We continue to see strong support for the WE DO Campaign, which has now raised more than $358 million in gifts and pledges toward our half-a-billion-dollar goal. That includes more than $111 million for financial aid, the campaign's top priority, and more than $42 million to help Bucknell recruit and retain top-tier faculty and staff, including endowments to support eight professorships, three academic fellowships and a coaching position. Upcoming WE DO Tour events include stops in Baltimore on Sept. 19 and northern New Jersey in November.

University Calendar

This academic year brings with it changes to the University's calendar. Among them was the decision to move the first day of classes from Wednesday to Monday, allowing for a full week of classes at the start of the semester. As a result, our students will not have classes the entire week of Thanksgiving, providing them more time to travel home for the holiday, which is of particular importance to those who live great distances from Bucknell. As a reminder to staff, University offices will remain open on Monday, Nov. 23, and Tuesday, Nov. 24. That Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will once again be University holidays.

The published winter holiday schedule indicates that the University will be closed from Thursday, Dec. 24, through Friday, Jan. 1. I am pleased to share with you that we will once again extend the winter break so that it also includes Monday, Dec. 21, Tuesday, Dec. 22, and Wednesday, Dec. 23. I hope the extra time off provides you time with family and friends and some well-earned rest and relaxation. Expanding the winter holiday period also allows us to shut down the University, to the extent possible, giving us a great opportunity to save as much energy as we can. As always, those required to work during these periods will take time off as their schedules allow, in consultation with their supervisors.

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