LEWISBURG, Pa. – Tough economic times underscore the necessity of a solid liberal arts education, said Bucknell President Brian C. Mitchell. || Read complete text
Speaking Saturday morning in Trout Auditorium before a standing-room-only audience as part of Family Weekend 2008, Mitchell said it will be the best educated who will be needed to ride out and rise above the current financial turmoil facing U.S. and world economies.
“In the wake of the failures of our banking system and concerns about the housing market, university aspirations may seem less than relevant,” the University’s 16th president said. “But I would argue that now is the time when a liberal arts education – and particularly one obtained at a top-flight, comprehensive institution like Bucknell – will be more necessary than ever.
Global citizens “I am convinced that today’s best educated and most conscientious students – your students – are the global citizens who will help and assist the world ride out and in fact rise above economic, social and environmental turmoil,” he said.
Mitchell said one lesson learned from the University’s 160-plus-year history is that “Bucknell has never shied away from a challenge” and that sentiment contributes to the bold vision that “Bucknell will provide students with the premier undergraduate experience in American higher education.”
He said that vision is already yielding results.
Class of 2012 The Class of 2012, for example, is the most selective class ever enrolled at Bucknell – fewer than three out of every 10 applicants were offered admission to the University.
In addition, Mitchell pointed to momentum in major campus initiatives:
A new campus master plan will guide change on campus for the next 75 years and, among other things, create new academic spaces, a comprehensive fine arts center, improved student housing and enhanced green space.
The University has just completed the most successful year of fundraising in its history, raising more than $50 million toward a $400 million goal in the capital campaign.
Work has been markedly expanded with the Lewisburg community with Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell recently announcing a $9 million grant to support the Lewisburg Core Community Initiative that will help to develop a downtown University bookstore and expanded cultural opportunities that will contribute to the “vibrancy and strength of downtown.”
The University has invested aggressively in new faculty – 55 new tenure-track faculty in the past two years, reducing the number of courses faculty teach to spend more time working one-on-one with students and on their scholarship.
Nationally renowned commentators are being brought to campus with “unprecedented consistency” to engage students in an intellectual exchange focused on world issues. In the next two weeks alone, historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough will be on campus.
Mitchell also noted that Bucknell’s national reputation has been underscored by a host of publications, including Washington Monthly magazine, which ranked Bucknell the seventh best liberal arts college in America and U.S. News & World Report, which for more than a decade has consistently ranked Bucknell among the top 30 liberal arts colleges.
A national study revealed that Bucknell alumni have the highest earning potential of all top liberal arts colleges, while, at the same, time, the Peace Corps placed Bucknell sixth on the list of small colleges and universities producing volunteers.
Success and service “Success and service. At Bucknell, one does not exist without the other,” said Mitchell. “I would argue that the true impact we have is helping our students learn to apply the broad knowledge of a liberal arts education however their passion drives them.”
Mitchell concluded his address by saying, “Any college can provide rote learning experiences. Any good college can turn out employable graduates. But a great college fully engages its students and helps them discover how to keep learning alive long after their relatively brief four years of college study are done. The liberal arts at Bucknell provide the ideal framework for this transformative growth.”
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