Last Word: Newsweek’s Most Beautiful Schools List
What it takes to get there.
By Kristen Hawley Turner '98
Dad and I sat at Vennari's Pizza, sharing a lunch special, as he explained the difference between Flemish and English brick bonds. My liberal arts eyes glazed over while the engineer launched into a description of stretchers and headers. As a history major, I liked it when Dad ruminated on Bucknell, its past and its future building plans, but that day in 1997 I wasn't seeing the history in the architectural lesson.
As head of facilities, he has documented the structure of each campus building. He explained that as Bucknell expands, the facilities crew takes great care to incorporate buildings visually into campus, and that "brick bond matters." When we drove through campus that afternoon, I began to see what he meant. The new buildings looked similar to and somehow seamlessly aligned with the established buildings on campus.
After that lunch, one of my projects as a facilities student employee was to digitally document those Flemish and English bonds. While I still didn't quite "get" why this was important, I dutifully traversed the campus, taking pictures on a mid-'90s version of a digital camera - one that held just eight photos. My walking tour helped me gain insight into how the bonding of bricks changes a building's appearance.
It is this attention to detail by the facilities team that has helped to make Bucknell's campus beautiful, earning it a top ranking in Newsweek's "Most Beautiful Schools of 2012."
From my inside peek into the workings of facilities, I realized that the beauty of Bucknell comes from the hard work of its 230 employees. The office staff, administrators, custodians, maintenance workers, groundskeepers, tradespeople and technicians all take pride in their work. They care deeply about Bucknell, and it shows in the careful design of new construction, the spectacular maintenance of the grounds and buildings and the commitment to greening by the whole staff. It is this dedication that continues to earn a high ranking in campus aesthetics from current Bucknellians.
My peers at Bucknell appreciated the appearance of the school, just as students do today. I knew then, however, that the people behind the beauty were largely invisible. Though students smile at and wave to members of the facilities crew, few know the hours and dedication that I witnessed behind the scenes. Facilities staff work every major holiday. They arrive before the campus wakes and leave well after tent parties end. From carrying out the Board of Trustees' master planning to taking care of daily maintenance, this team makes Bucknell beautiful.
The campus has grown since I graduated in 1998. The new recreation center replaces the old soccer field. Dana no longer cramps engineers; they sprawl in Breakiron. O'Leary Center and McDonnell Hall have been added, but the new Bucknell still feels like Bucknell when I visit. I'm pretty sure that Flemish and English bonds have something to do with that.
As new construction rises behind Fraternity Row, I know that Bucknell's beauty will expand. The facilities team will ensure that the new campus meets the old in a timeless seam, making Bucknell still feel like Bucknell for future generations.
Kristen Hawley Turner '98 is an assistant professor of curriculum and teaching at Fordham University in the graduate school of education in NYC. Her father, Dennis Hawley '72, M'73, P'98, P'03, is the associate vice president for facilities.