President announces plans to step down - June 24, 2009
When I came to Bucknell five years ago, I had high hopes for what might be accomplished in the immediate future. It was clear that, as strong as Bucknell already was, this superb university had great opportunities ahead. These areas of possibility included a new strategic plan, a 21st-century campus master plan, a bold comprehensive campaign, new town-gown partnerships, expansive recruitment of talented new faculty, innovative curricular prospects, and promising opportunities to invest in meaningful diversity initiatives.
In all these areas, we have made great progress since 2004, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have been able to work on these efforts with so many Bucknellians. Bucknell is a special place, with an extraordinary capacity to educate and inspire the outstanding young men and women who are its students; a faculty and staff who are in many ways exemplars in their professions; a magnificent campus; and a place in the hearts of its alumni, parents and friends that is as potent as it is touching to experience.
Maryjane and I knew that, whenever we might decide to pursue other goals, we had an obligation to do so at a time that would be fair to this wonderful community. We also wanted to give the Board of Trustees appropriate time to conduct a search for the next president, and to ensure however best we could that the momentum of Bucknell continues. With these facts in mind, I have informed the Board of Trustees that effective June 30, 2010, I will step down as president.
I pledge to you my fullest efforts to advance the University in the year ahead as we continue progress on The Plan for Bucknell, the campus master plan, the campaign, town-gown initiatives, and many other efforts.
Please know that even as Maryjane and I contemplate our next steps in life, we are deeply grateful for the many joys you share with us as part of this extended community. It is a privilege to work as president with Bucknell's faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents and friends, and I look forward to what we will all accomplish together for this University in the coming year.
With thanks for your continuing support of Bucknell,
Brian C. Mitchell
To the Members of the Bucknell University Community:
The accompanying letter from Brian Mitchell, which announces that the coming academic year will be his final one as Bucknell's 16th president, affords me the opportunity on behalf of the Board of Trustees to thank President Mitchell for the many contributions he has made to the University as President.
Bucknell has advanced on multiple strategic fronts during his tenure. He led the process through which we have put into place a comprehensive strategic plan, The Plan for Bucknell; guided the creation of our most far-reaching campus master plan since the early 1930s; and inspired the University to launch a $400 million comprehensive campaign that has secured more than $130 million in less than two years, including the most state and federal funding Bucknell has ever secured, more than $17 million. Our Moody's Rating of Aa2 was achieved and recently re-affirmed, placing Bucknell in select company among universities at this challenging economic time.
In addition, with his leadership, the University took a series of initiatives to strengthen our academic programs and ensure they remain at the cutting edge. The University converted the faculty teaching load from six to five courses per year and reduced the student-faculty ratio to 11:1, hired more than 40 new tenure-track faculty, established the Environmental Center and the Teaching and Learning Center, and marked major academic milestones, including the successful re-accreditation of our College of Engineering, the establishment of a new core curriculum for the College of Arts and Sciences, and the creation of a School of Management that will grow out of the current management program.
He has been the leader behind a wide-ranging series of initiatives to strengthen town-gown relations, including relocation of the Bucknell University Bookstore to Market Street; passionately advocated for successful partnerships to increase our outreach to diverse outstanding students, including the Community College Transfers Scholarship Program with the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and the Posse Scholars Program; and encouraged admissions initiatives that have placed Bucknell among a very select group of only 20 schools nationwide whose acceptance rate is below 30% and whose yield is above 40%. In addition in these years several construction projects were completed, including the Breakiron Engineering Building, Holmes Stadium and Emmitt Field.
I also must commend Brian's leadership in higher education on the regional and national level. Currently, for example, he is chair of the President's Council of the Patriot League, a member of the Executive Committee of the Annapolis Group (which represents the country's 125 most selective liberal arts colleges and universities), and a member of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation Board of Directors, and recently chaired the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania. These roles have enabled him to bring to our consideration of the University's goals a timely sense of the higher education context.
The entire Bucknell community has benefited from Brian's energy and vision at a critical time. He has led the University as it has strategized with considerable scope, and advanced in substantive ways. We are grateful to both Brian and Maryjane for the passion and commitment they have given to Bucknell during the past five years, and that they will continue to provide in the upcoming academic year.
As a result of their decision to inform us of their plans now, Bucknell will move forward under President Mitchell's continued leadership this coming academic year with a strong focus on implementing the strategic imperatives before us, as we concurrently plan for the next stage in the University's history. The Board of Trustees will be discussing over the coming months the process for a national search.
Please join my fellow trustees and me in sharing with Dr. Mitchell your appreciation for the contributions he has made to the continued success of Bucknell University.
Susan J. Crawford '69
Chair, Board of Trustees