History of Bucknell
- The University's Founding
Founded in 1846 as the University at Lewisburg, Bucknell traces its origination to a group of Baptists who deemed it "desirable that a Literary Institution should be established in Central Pennsylvania, embracing a High School for male pupils, another for females, a College and also a Theological Institution."
- The Early Years
In 1846, the "school preparatory to the University" opened in the basement of the First Baptist Church in Lewisburg. Known originally as the Lewisburg High School, it became, in 1848, the Academical and Primary Department of the University at Lewisburg.
- The Female Institute
Although the Female Institute began instruction in 1852, it wasn’t until 1883 that college courses were opened to women. Bucknell, though, was committed to equal educational opportunities for women.
- University Firsts
The first woman graduate of Bucknell, Chella Scott, received a B.S. degree with honors in 1885.
- Benefactor William Bucknell
In 1881, facing dire finances, the university turned to William Bucknell, a charter member of the board of trustees, for help. His generous donation of $50,000 saved the university from ruin.
- A History of Achievement
Since its founding, 16 presidents and four acting presidents have served Bucknell. Under their leadership, Bucknell has grown from a "Literary Institution and Female High School" to a university of more than 3,450 undergraduate and 150 graduate students and 291 full-time faculty.
- Continued Expansion
The university’s facilities continued to grow. Today, more than 100 buildings dot the 450-acre campus.
- University Characteristics
New buildings and new degree programs do not alone characterize Bucknell or identify its uniqueness as an educational institution. From the outset, Bucknell developed traditions that have strengthened and sustained its mission as a teaching institution
- Intellectual History
The university has preserved its commitment to the liberal arts, but it has also integrated other kinds of learning into the curriculum.
Today, Bucknell has 48,000 living alumni who form a close network of loyal Bucknellians around the world. Their successful lives and personal achievements are a testament to the vision and perspicacity of the university’s founders, who were dedicated to the pursuit of excellence.