4. The University Charter

The University Charter

In 1846, a 55-year old teacher and acting president named Stephen Taylor neatly wrote out on parchment a charter for a new university, which would be renamed Bucknell in 1886. The small committee of men who’d recruited the veteran educator to lead the new University at Lewisburg funded his trip to Pennsylvania’s capital, Harrisburg, and asked him to stay until the state legislature approved the new charter.

Lewis Edwin Theiss, writing in his Centennial History of Bucknell University, 1846-1945, describes the process: “In exactly 17 days after the first reading of the charter, the legislature had passed it, without changing a word, and Gov. Francis Shunk signed it. Thus on Feb. 5, 1846, the college in a certain sense was born.”

For many years, the original charter was displayed in the President’s Office. It was transferred to the University Archives collection in 2012 and conserved. A facsimile of the original charter was made and now hangs in the Traditional Reading Room of Bertrand Library for all to view.