John Zeller III


John Zeller IIIIf it is possible in the afterlife, John F. Zeller III'41, M'42, H'10, G'12 will find a way to remain a part of daily life at Bucknell.
Zeller was a de facto Bucknellian even before he was born. His mother graduated from what was then the Bucknell Institute for Women, and when it came time for him to attend college, the Lewisburg native gravitated naturally to the school on the hill. The recipient of bachelor's and master's degrees from Bucknell, he was also a member of Bucknell's first Phi Beta Kappa class.

After serving in the Army in WWII, Zeller earned a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania and returned home to practice law and teach political science at Bucknell. He taught for seven years, with a brief interruption to serve his country again during the Korean War. By 1955 he had met his future wife, then Assistant Dean of Women Martha Harris. He also found his true calling, as the University's chief financial officer and general counsel.

For the next three decades Zeller occupied an office in Marts Hall from which he helped to steer Bucknell through periods of tremendous growth. Calmly, intelligently and with unparalleled dedication to his alma mater, he provided leadership and assistance as Bucknell doubled its enrollment, increased its endowment by 20-fold to $100 million, built or improved dozens of buildings on campus, and strengthened the relationship between town and gown. He also served as acting president in 1984.

In a sentiment shared by many, former president Gary Sojka described Zeller as "exemplar first citizen of the University," but he was also referred to more simply as "Mr. Bucknell."

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