August 16, 2012: President's Letter
Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,
I hope your summer has gone well; it seems just yesterday that we were in the academic quad for commencement. As we prepare for the start of the new school year, I want to provide an update on a variety of important administrative and related developments from this summer. This phase of the school year is hectic for everyone across campus, and I thank you for the important role you will play in helping our new and returning students make a great transition to the exciting year ahead.
For the last week, we have had more than 800 students on campus, including our student orientation leaders, international students and many of our Division I athletes. During the summer, some 300 students were here as part of summer classes and research projects, along with hundreds of visitors and guests for tours, campus seminars and more. Thanks to all of you who have helped make these summer experiences go well and ensured that our guests would enjoy their time on campus. And tomorrow, of course, our new students and their parents arrive as a great Orientation program begins. Next Tuesday night, we formally start the new year with Convocation at the Weis Center.
As we look to the new academic year, I am more than optimistic about the comprehensive campaign we will publicly launch this semester and all it could mean for the University's future. On October 26, we will initiate a weekend series of campaign launch events around Homecoming. A summary of that schedule is below. A slate of events like this would not be possible without the dedication of faculty and staff across the University and that of many volunteers both near and far. All of us involved in planning the campaign are grateful for the talents and enthusiasm being contributed by so many. I'm pleased to announce that three long-serving and dedicated couples have agreed to serve as honorary co-chairs of the campaign: Robert and Natalie Rooke, Ken '57 and Elaine Langone, and Gary and Sandy Sojka. We will launch the public phase of our campaign with almost 50 percent of our half-billion dollar goal already achieved.
The new school year has arrived, and the start of a campaign that will forever change how alumni view their role in shaping Bucknell's future is nearing. I don't know about you, but when I am asked, "Who looks forward to the year ahead?" I have only one answer: We do.
On Friday, August 24, we will hold our annual Community Street Fair at the south corner of Market and 4th Streets, near the M&T lot, and we invite you and your families to join us. It will include free food and beverages and games for children. At 6:30 p.m., we will show "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" at the Campus Theatre with free popcorn and soda and 1941 admission prices, marking the year the theatre was founded. That day also marks the start of the weekend's Arts Festival featuring a host of wonderful events organized by the faculty leading the Presidential Arts Initiative. Here is wishing you a great start to the academic year.
A university exists for the purpose of bringing together faculty and students in a mutual pursuit of learning and growth. This fall, following national searches, we welcome to the University 16 new tenure-line professors. They bring passion for undergraduate teaching, expertise in their fields and fresh new energy to the learning experience of our students. We look forward to getting to know them and to seeing the important difference they will make in the life of Bucknell. They are:
- Matthew Amthor, assistant professor of physics;
- Craig Beal, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, Jane W. Griffith Fellow;
- Paul Botelho, assistant professor of music;
- Jason Cons, assistant professor of international relations;
- Kimberly Councill, associate professor of music, Samuel Williams Professor of Music;
- Alan Cheville, professor of electrical engineering, T. Jefferson Miers Chair in Electrical Engineering; JiaJia Dong, assistant professor of physics; Gabrielle Flynt, assistant professor of mathematics;
- Judith Grisel, professor of psychology, C. Graydon and Mary E. Rogers Faculty Fellow;
- Martin Isleem, assistant professor of Arabic;
- Christopher Martine, associate professor of biology, David Burpee Professor in Plant Genetics and Research;
- Aaron Mitchel, assistant professor of psychology, Swanson Fellow;
- Benoit Razet, assistant professor of computer science;
- Kristy Schenck, assistant professor of management;
- Allen Tran, assistant professor of anthropology; and
- Matthew Watkins, assistant professor of electrical engineering.
We also welcome to our ranks many visiting faculty, whose teaching and mentoring of Bucknell students play a vital role in the effectiveness of our academic programs. We look forward to the Deans' introduction of all of our new faculty colleagues at the first faculty meeting. Similarly, we have the opportunity to meet all of our new staff appointments at the first University Staff Forum on September 19th.
My thanks to the faculty and staff who served on the search committees for all these appointments. Search committee work is critically important to our future as a scholarly community.
Diversity in Admissions
With the concurrence of the Executive Committee of our Board of Trustees, last week we joined 27 other similar institutions in submitting one of the amici briefs supporting the University of Texas in its diversity admissions policy. The case, pending before the Supreme Court, arose when Abigail Fisher challenged the consideration of race as one of the factors universities could consider in constructing their admitted classes. As argued by the University of Texas and supported in the brief we joined, the creation of a student body whose interests, geographic origins, achievements and academics are representative of the society they will enter requires considerable judgment and discretion and has no algorithm of "quality" that can substitute for that discretion. Our brief, some of whose members include Amherst, Carleton, Colby, and Colgate, will likely be one of many submitted in support of the Texas position. The case will be argued in October and decided by next June.
Academic West and Other Facilities News
Thanks to the leadership of our facilities team, contractors are making great progress on the construction of our newest academic building in many years, Academic West. A majority of the funding for this $25 million project has already been secured through donor support, and we continue to seek a naming gift to supplant the University's investment in the remaining costs.
This 70,000-square-foot building will form the west side of a new quad extending south from Bertrand Library. We plan to complete it in the next decade or so. The three-story building will contain 59 faculty offices, along with large and mediumsized classrooms, laboratories and hearth space for faculty and students to gather outside of class time. It will be LEED certified at a Silver level, meeting strict standards for energy efficiency and environmental impact and stewardship. I should note that the two new affinity houses constructed "over the hill" have been submitted for LEED Silver certification as well. Moving faculty in the social sciences to the new facility will result in a cascade of office moves on campus, freeing up offices and classrooms for other academic programs. This will undoubtedly be disruptive in the short run but the new space plan will benefit us for decades to come.
On Thursday, September 13, we will celebrate the progress on Academic West with a ceremony marking the placement of the last piece of structural steel in the building. The event is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Everyone is invited to witness this exciting moment in the building's construction.
On a related note, and again thanks to our facilities staff, Bucknell was just cited as one of the most beautiful campuses in the country in Newsweek's annual survey. This is a point of pride in which I hope we all can share.
In late July, Bucknell began a transition to singlestream recycling. This program makes it easy for everyone on campus to make our recycling program as effective as possible. All discarded items should go into the single-stream recycling containers on campus, and anything with Styrofoam, plastic wrap, or food should go into trash receptacles. That means there is no need to separate recyclable items any more and that many more items are recyclable. This is one small part of creating a greener campus. Here is more information: http://www.bucknell.edu/x4772.xml.
At some point in the future we hope to build a proper "entrance" to the University along Route 15, but with the potential realignment of Smoketown Road still pending that may well be a long time off. In the meantime, we are going to construct a wall featuring the name Bucknell University in simple brick and stone at the corner of Route 15 and Moore Avenue. We plan to have this in place by Homecoming Weekend.
We are currently conducting feasibility studies for a library extension that would face Academic West, and for a renovation of Christy MathewsonMemorial Stadium.
New Student Healthcare Partnership
In April, I shared with you that we were working on a potential new partnership to strengthen the student health services we provide. I am pleased to report that we have now formalized a partnership with Geisinger Medical Center and Evangelical Community Hospital, who have formed the joint venture Evangelical-Geisinger Health, LLC.
As of August 1, the partnership began providing on-campus healthcare to students through Bucknell Student Health (BSH), the new name for campus student health services. BSH offers the same excellent services as were offered in the past, including treatment of routine illnesses and injuries, gynecology visits, drug and alcohol counseling, travel medicine and campus outreach and education. Moreover, through BSH, students will be able to connect easily with specialists and other health resources at Geisinger and Evangelical.
Don Stechschulte, M.D., continues with BSH as lead physician, and Jackie Miller, R.N., C., is BSH operations manager. They are collaborating with Carolyn Houk '88, M.D., the new medical director overseeing many of the initiatives emerging from the joint venture. Dr. Houk received her M.D. from the Chicago Medical School and worked as a faculty member, physician and administrator at Johns Hopkins Medicine before joining Geisinger in 2009 as department director of primary-care practices in Schuylkill County. Under Dr. Houk's leadership, BSH will continue to work closely with student affairs staff to ensure that our students receive excellent care while living on our campus. My thanks to Dean of Students Susan Lantz, Director of Business Planning Ed Loftus and the rest of the Bucknell team that has been working hard all summer on this transition. My special thanks to the health professionals in our student health services who have quickly adapted to this new structure and play such an important role in our students' well-being.
Fraternity and Sorority Affairs
In late June, the national headquarters of Pi Beta Phi informed us that they had decided to suspend operations of the Bucknell campus chapter following their extensive review of behavioral violations over the last two years. The national headquarters concluded that the chapter had failed to live up to the sorority's values despite an intensive improvement plan that had been implemented, including specific expectations assigned by the national office. Since the national organization reached its decision and informed Bucknell, the University and Pi Beta Phi headquarters have worked together to ensure a smooth transition for our affected students.
Bucknell has a 117-year partnership with Pi Beta Phi, and we will continue to work with national's representatives to re-establish Pi Beta Phi at the University at a future date. For at least three years, though, Pi Beta Phi will not have a campus presence. National has moved all current members to alumna status, meaning that they remain members of Pi Beta Phi but are not permitted to meet, hold events, or otherwise function as active members of a Bucknell chapter. Pi Beta Phi national has relinquished the sorority's Hunt Hall suite back to the University, and the hall will be filled with students from other sororities.
Theta Chi fraternity has also ceased operations. Despite many efforts, they were unable to achieve a stable, critical mass membership. Given their emphasis on events that specifically targeted healthy behavior and that shunned immoderate alcohol consumption, I am saddened at this development.
Sigma Chi fraternity removed a dozen members from its chapter, thereby successfully addressing significant behavioral issues that arose last year. This change was accomplished through a series of discussions with the local chapter, their alumni association, and their national body. I am particularly grateful for the leadership and help of several prominent alumni who made this outcome possible.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon is entering the second year of a four-year suspension.
In the spring we investigated, along with state and local authorities, evidence of substantial activities involving the sale of illicit substances on campus. As a result, we closed 23 University Avenue and removed several students from campus; legal proceedings for some of these students are pending, as is a comprehensive review by the national body of Kappa Sigma, the fraternity that was singularly aligned with these students and that particular residence. The review will be completed before the start of fall classes and the University will continue to work with the national organization and all students affected by the chapter review.
The University remains committed to improving fraternity and sorority life at Bucknell. We welcome Mu Sigma Upsilon, a multicultural sorority, this fall.
An additional new sorority will colonize at Bucknell in the fall of 2013. This decision and process had been in place prior to the Pi Beta Phi decision.
Upon my arrival I formulated the Operations and Management Group, comprising my direct reports, in order to ensure we were addressing together, in an efficient and organized way, issues affecting the entire University. We meet on Tuesday mornings for what have been lively and helpful discussions. The issues we are facing as a university, whether in campus climate, various items mentioned in this summary, and others of central importance to the concerns of students and parents, have underscored for my colleagues and me on the OMG that we would benefit from having the perspective of the Dean of Students office in our conversations. That office, which reports to the Provost, is the frontline administrative organization working with all students and student organizations. I therefore have asked Susan Lantz to join the OMG, and I know all of us will benefit from the perspective she will bring to our discussions. Last year we started meeting on occasion with the Faculty Council and I look forward to continuing with that this year.
I am also creating a President's Advisory Council, comprising the College Deans and the Provost, to consider a variety of longer-term, strategic issues that are generally beyond the scope of the more operationally-focused OMG. I spend many hours per week with Mick, but only on occasion with George and Keith, so I am looking forward to the four of us meeting regularly. Similarly, now that Associate Provost for Diversity Bridget Newell has joined us, we will begin the work of the President's Diversity Council in earnest.
I am delighted to report that I have appointed Carol Kennedy to serve as University Secretary; in this role she will be the principal liaison with the Board of Trustees. Carol will continue in her role as Director of the President's Office.
Lastly, looking ahead to this year, we are conducting a national search for a new General Counsel; Wayne Bromfield will retire from full-time service in June 2013, but stay on part time as Senior Legal Advisor to the President. We also hope to appoint a new Chief of Public Safety in the near future; Jason Friedberg left the University in the late spring for private consulting work.
– Campaign Launch Homecoming Weekend Plans –
In just over two months, Bucknell will launch the most ambitious campaign in University history. Colleagues have been hard at work preparing a campaign kickoff celebration for Homecoming Weekend that will provide a wonderful occasion to celebrate the University. Our aspiration has been to create a weekend of events that generates excitement and interest among our global donor community as never before, not only to secure donor support for this campaign but, just as importantly, to foster a new level of engagement that will set the stage for campaigns and decades to come. I commend our colleagues for organizing a weekend with the promise of achieving these goals.
We will begin publicizing these events to alumni soon, but first wanted to share with you a brief overview of what is planned. The 15 events happening that weekend will feature outstanding musical entertainment, nationally renowned guest commentators, and numerous occasions on which our guests will learn from and interact with our faculty and students in inspiring ways.
We already have begun asking many colleagues for their help with the array of projects necessary to make the weekend a great success. All of us involved in the planning are grateful for the help we have already received and are excited about the opportunity the campaign provides for so many of us to work side by side. In the end, the campaign will succeed because all of us are in it together.
At www.bucknell.edu/Homecoming2012 you will see the launch weekend schedule as formulated thus far. Highlights and key details of the weekend's events – which include many other activities – include the following:
Friday, Oct. 26
Academic Year Celebration Reception and Dinner 4:30-7 p.m., Gerhard Fieldhouse This annual event brings our faculty and trustees together for a wonderful gathering, and this year will also feature recognition of the three alumni being honored with 2012 Alumni Awards. We're in Gerhard because of the expected guest count.
Norah Jones in Concert Weis Center for the Performing Arts, 7:30-9 p.m. Norah Jones was discovered by Bucknell alumnus Bruce Lundvall '57. Since then, she has become one of the most successful singer-songwriters of our time, having already won nine Grammy Awards and sold 40 million albums. This exclusive private concert will be the last stop on her North American tour for her new CD, "Little Broken Hearts." Most tickets for this donor event will be allocated to donor and alumni guests, but we will have a random drawing for a limited number of tickets for faculty and staff and, in a separate drawing, students. We will announce those details in late September, once we have clear numbers on donor and alumni attendance.
On Friday night, the campaign will also be sponsoring a concert by renowned Delta blues and reggae artist Corey Harris and his band at the Campus Theatre, and a concert for our students at Uptown.
Saturday, Oct. 27
Innovation, Discovery and Leadership: A Conversation with Walter Isaacson and Jim Cramer and Presidential Q&A with Students
Weis Center for the Performing Arts, 9-11 a.m.
While we will reserve seats for this event for our donor guests, it will be open to anyone else interested on a first-come, first-served basis. A book signing by Mr. Isaacson and Mr. Cramer will follow in the Weis lobby. Mr. Isaacson is renowned for his bestselling biographies of Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin. He is CEO of the Aspen Institute and former chairman and CEO of CNN. Mr. Cramer is best known as the host of CNBC's "Mad Money" and markets commentator for TheStreet.com, which he cofounded.
University Celebration & Pre-Game Showcase
Practice Field, 11 a.m.
Saturday afternoon brings a variety of activities designed to showcase the talents and ideas of our faculty and students. At this event, besides being able to enjoy wonderful cuisine, the entire Bucknell community will have the chance to participate with faculty and students in several fascinating and fun projects exemplifying the breadth of work across the disciplines.
Cultural Discovery: An Encounter with the Arts
Sites TBD, 1 p.m.
Celebrating the vital role of the arts in our Bucknell community, this faculty-student program is still under development.
Bucknell-Colgate Football Game
Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium, 1 p.m.
Our annual Homecoming game pits the Bison against rival Colgate.
Please note: normally we do not schedule against the Homecoming Game, which attracts 5,000-6,000 fans, but for this special weekend we are making an exception to accommodate a broad spectrum of donor interests.
Private Campaign Gala Launch Reception and Dinner
Academic Quad, 6:30 p.m.
Festivities for our donor guests culminate with this event, which will mark a thanks for their engagement already with Bucknell and a call for their new and continued participation in Bucknell's future.
The event will include sophisticated interactive experiences with faculty and student research and creative projects, multimedia entertainment developed specially for the occasion, keynote presentations, and great music. This event will become the basis for the campaign "road shows" that we will take to alumni and other friends in major cities around the country over the next several years.
The venue for this gala will be a special clear tent, suitable for seating more than 500 on the academic quad. This tent will take about a week to set up, and so I ask for your forbearance concerning any temporary interference that process may create that week in your use of the quad. There is simply no better setting than our quad in which to mark with our guests their role in the University's history and promise.
Sunday, Oct. 28
Faculty and Staff Campaign Launch Family Barbeque
Academic Quad, time TBD
This event brings all faculty and staff and their families together in the special tent setting to relax, enjoy fun and games as well as the campaign multimedia entertainment, and celebrate the instrumental role you will play in the campaign and its promise for Bucknell.
Should we make any major changes in this schedule, I will let you know. Meanwhile, I encourage you to check the website noted above occasionally for the latest details.
A slate of events on this scale would not be possible without the dedication of faculty and staff across the University. All of us involved in planning the launch are grateful for the talents and enthusiasm being contributed by so many.