By Pete Mackey
LEWISBURG, Pa. — John C. Bravman, a distinguished professor and academic leader at Stanford University, has been named the 17th president of Bucknell University by unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees, announced Board Chair Kenneth W. Freeman. Dr. Bravman will begin his duties as president on July 1, 2010.
"John Bravman is a highly accomplished teacher, scholar, strategist, and passionate advocate for the liberal arts who is also a person of great character," said Freeman. "He has led many aspects of Stanford's renowned undergraduate programs and is very well prepared to guide Bucknell as it continues moving forward as one of America's finest liberal arts universities. We look forward to John's leadership, and welcome him to the University with the greatest enthusiasm."
For the last 11 years, Bravman, 52, has overseen Stanford's undergraduate program as Freeman-Thornton Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, and served as dean of Stanford's Freshman-Sophomore Residential College, which he founded in 1999. As one of Stanford's preeminent leaders, he has been a strong and visible presence on behalf of the university around the nation and the globe. A world-renowned scholar in the field of thin-film materials, he is the Bing Centennial Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and, since 2001, has been a professor of electrical engineering by courtesy of that department in recognition of his related achievements. He has won almost every Stanford teaching and advising award, including the Walter J. Gores Award, Stanford's highest teaching honor.
"It is a deep honor and privilege to be selected to lead such a great institution," said Dr. Bravman. "Those of us who are privileged to work at selective and relatively well-resourced institutions have the opportunity to educate some of the most talented youth of each generation and are obliged to embrace that mission with vigor and honor. I will do everything in my power to serve the best interests of this university and prove worthy of the trust that the Board of Trustees and the Bucknell community has placed in me."
Bravman will succeed Dr. Brian C. Mitchell, who last year announced his intention to step down from the presidency effective June 30, after six years in that role. Bravman's appointment follows a national search that began in August 2009. The Presidential Search Committee comprised trustees, members of the faculty, members of the staff, a student, alumni representative and parent participant, and was assisted by the search firm Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates.
"Bucknell University holds a special place in higher education," Bravman said. "I am indebted to my friends and colleagues at Stanford for their mentoring, support and guidance, and for the fundamental role they have played in shaping my core belief in the liberal arts and undergraduate education, a value which Stanford and Bucknell so deeply share."
As vice provost for undergraduate education, Bravman has overseen an undergraduate program enrolling 6,500 students, and during his tenure helped lead a curricular transformation that introduced new pedagogies, invigorated Stanford's system of residential education, and created the Stanford Summer Engineering Academy for entering Stanford undergraduates from under-resourced school districts.
"Throughout his impressive career, Dr. Bravman has demonstrated a deep devotion to the many missions of undergraduate education and the value of a superb liberal arts university to students and the society at large," said the chair of the search committee and trustee, Stephen P. Holmes. "We had a strong and diverse pool of outstanding candidates, and John impressed the search committee as a great leader at every stage of our review. We have found someone who is as passionate about the University's future as we are."
"John Bravman has been a treasured member of the Stanford community for nearly 35 years, first as an outstanding student, then as a faculty member, and finally as a university leader," said John Hennessy, president of Stanford. "During that time he has been a distinguished researcher, one of our most highly regarded and sought-after teachers, and an energetic and admired leader. As vice provost for undergraduate education, he has been a ceaseless advocate for our undergraduate students and dedicated to enhancing their educational experience. Although we are very sad to see him go, we know John's commitment to excellence and the highest standards will serve Bucknell well."
Bravman will take office at Bucknell during the private phase of the largest comprehensive campaign in the University's history, with a $400 million objective. He played a critical role in Stanford's Campaign for Undergraduate Education, which raised more than $1.1 billion and reignited the donor community's support for Stanford's undergraduate mission. He has traveled almost four million miles representing Stanford and speaking on its behalf on hundreds of occasions around the world.
"What I have really come to appreciate about Dr. Bravman is not only his accomplishments as a teacher, scholar, and administrator, but his obvious commitment to undergraduate education and the liberal arts," said Tony Massoud, chair of the Bucknell faculty and associate professor of political science, who served on the presidential search committee. "We look forward to building a strong collegial working relationship with John to advance the academic goals of Bucknell."
A recipient of his bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees from Stanford, Bravman has written and taught primarily in the fields of materials structure and analysis, thin-film mechanical phenomena, microelectronic reliability and high-temperature superconductivity. He is the co-author of more than 160 scholarly publications, and has served in various leadership roles for the preeminent professional society in his field, the Materials Research Society, including as president in 1994.
In addition to earning appointment as full professor, Bravman has held a variety of administrative positions and appointments at Stanford, including department chair, research center director, and senior associate dean in the School of Engineering. He was also elected chair of the Faculty Senate but had to step down when he was appointed vice provost in 1999. He is expected to assume a tenured position in the Bucknell College of Engineering's Department of Electrical Engineering.
Born in 1957, Bravman grew up in New York City and on Long Island. He is married to Wendelin Wright, the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Santa Clara University. She is expected to join the Bucknell mechanical engineering faculty in a tenure-track position. Their first child, a boy, Cole Keating Bravman, was born in 2010, and John has two grown sons, Christopher and Matthew.
"We join with Wendy and John in celebrating Cole's arrival," said Freeman. "Today is a great day for Bucknell, and at the same time this is such an exciting time in their lives. I know I speak for all of us throughout the entire Bucknell community near and far in extending our warmest welcome to the entire Bravman family."
Bravman joins a university in the midst of major investments in its programs and facilities. Under Mitchell's leadership, Bucknell established its current comprehensive campaign, toward which it has raised more than $135 million; formulated a new Campus Master Plan to guide campus development for the next 75 years; introduced a comprehensive strategic plan known as The Plan for Bucknell; established new diversity partnerships that have dramatically increased its enrollment of underrepresented students and the finest transfer students from community colleges; reduced the student-faculty ratio from 12:1 to 10:1; hired more than 40 new tenure-track faculty; established a School of Management that will grow out of the current management program; and initiated a wide-ranging series of initiatives to strengthen partnerships with downtown Lewisburg.
Founded in 1846, Bucknell is widely considered one of the finest liberal arts universities in the country. Its 3,500 undergraduates and 150 graduate students come from nearly every state and more than 60 countries. They enjoy the personal learning experience of a small liberal arts college combined with the breadth of opportunities associated with a comprehensive university, including more than 50 majors and 60 minors across the breadth of liberal arts and professional disciplines, first-class research facilities, global study opportunities, and nearly 200 student organizations devoted to a range of interests - from service-learning programs and Greek life to overseas study and Division I athletics.