Verbatim text of address || Audio of address

By Sam Alcorn
LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Bucknell President Brian C. Mitchell on Saturday reaffirmed a bold vision for the University and highlighted ambitious investments intended to provide students with the premier undergraduate experience in America.

"The University is strong, and it will remain strong," said Mitchell in a broad-ranging Family Weekend address that included an update on The Plan for Bucknell and major milestones accomplished under the strategic plan since its campus-wide endorsement and adoption in early 2006.

"This is not a plan meant to sit on a shelf and gather dust," Mitchell said in Trout Auditorium. "It is meant to be a living document that makes this University better with each passing day."

Blessed inheritance
The University president, noting that The Plan's vision builds on the "blessed inheritance provided to today's generations of Bucknellians," said that nearly 400 tactics supporting the five major strategies in The Plan had been submitted from constituents across the University. To date, about two dozen of those tactics have been implemented.

"These initiatives affect every aspect of life on campus, from the faculty in the classroom to living spaces, from safety issues to breadth of degree programs offered," he said. The Plan was designed to have a "comprehensive impact, and through the tactics, that is happening."

Among them is the faculty's five-course teaching load, a reduction from six, which Mitchell said will give Bucknell's teacher-scholars more time to "work with students and on research and scholarship and thereby strengthen their teaching. This change marks Bucknell's recommitment to offering the best possible liberal arts education."

35 new faculty
Implementation of the new teaching load by fall 2009, he said, will require significant investment by the University and the hiring of more than 35 new faculty.

Calling them "significant enhancements to academic life," Mitchell reported the launching of two multidisciplinary centers -- the Teaching and Learning Center and the Bucknell Environmental Center, which recently received a $450,000 grant from the prestigious Henry Luce Foundation.

Additional innovation and investment have included:

  • Establishment of a bachelor of science degree in computer engineering.
  • Creation of an executive internship program for undergraduates.
  • Implementation of a four-year, $890,000 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation grant to build a transfer program for outstanding community college transfer students.
  • Expansion of the Posse Scholars Program, a national leadership program that identifies, recruits, and trains young leaders from public schools in urban areas.
  • Upgrade of Seventh Street House and renovation of Swartz Hall.

Mitchell said in the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, campus emergency preparedness took on a special urgency and that new investments include an emergency cell phone notification system.

Campus master plan
The University's 16th president also called the campus master plan, which will be presented to the Board of Trustees in 2008, "one of the most important initiatives" Bucknell will pursue in this stage of the 21st century.

"Building this plan is frankly one of the most challenging and important tasks a university can undertake," he said. "It will encompass everything from classroom size to technology, from recreational fields to living spaces, from campus entrance pathways to off-campus living opportunities."

A major part of that work is a new public-private partnership between Bucknell and the borough of Lewisburg that could include an investment of at least $10 million from Pennsylvania. Mitchell was among those from Bucknell and its neighboring communities who recently briefed Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell on the plan during a meeting in Harrisburg, Pa.

Plan a model
"I must say we were very encouraged by the governor's interest," he said. "We believe we can make this plan a model for how rural universities and their communities work together to improve the quality of life for students and the region."

Potential features of the University Village include:

  • Expansion and relocation of the University bookstore.
  • Consolidation of University business offices.
  • A Bucknell Inn with meeting facilities.
  • Structured parking.

Mitchell also reported that a national search had started for a new provost and that a new national speakers series, The Bucknell Forum, designed to bring to campus outstanding national commentators to engage students and community in the issues shaping the 2008 presidential election, has received an "enthusiastic response."

The Bucknell Forum
He said the intention is, when arrangements with speakers make it possible, to share video of Bucknell Forum events in their entirety with alumni and parents on the University's Web site.

Regarding the University's comprehensive campaign, Mitchell reported that the "quiet" phase started in July and will last two years.

"During that time, we will work out the exact goal of the campaign, which will last about seven years," he said. "This campaign will be larger by several orders of magnitude than any previous Bucknell campaign."

Contact: Office of Communications

Posted Oct. 27, 2007

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