Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,

I write to share with you a summary of the most recently completed Board of Trustees meeting. The general meeting was held on campus fromThursday night, October 3 through Saturday morning, October 5. The Annual Business Meeting was held on Saturday morning. Enclosed with this cover letter are summaries from the committee meetings. Please click here to read.

My thanks to the members of the faculty who attended various meetings at which they represented the faculty: Prof. Kim Daubman, chair of the faculty and Faculty Council; Prof. Geoff Schneider, a member of Faculty Council; Profs. Linda Smolka, Jamie Hendry and John Hunter, who attended the Academic Affairs and Campus Life Committee meeting; Prof. Joe Meiser, who attended the Development and External Relations Committee meeting; and Profs. George Exner and Paul McGuire, who attended the Finance Committee meeting. I am also grateful for the wonderful attendance on Friday evening for the Academic Year Celebration Dinner as we paid tribute to our faculty for 2012-13 teaching awards, new faculty appointments, achievements in creative works and external grants. In addition, we celebrated three alumni who received special awards for their leadership, service and contributions to the arts.

This meeting officially welcomed three new trustees: Susan Ginkel '76, Kirsten Heinemann '81 P'12, P'15 and Chris Sullivan '92. We are grateful to them for making this commitment of leadership and service to the University.

One of these trustees, Kirsten, and her husband, Steven, recently made their second seven-figure gift to the University. This gift will enable us to establish a new endowed professorship. We are grateful to Kirsten and Steven for this expression of continuing generosity and support for Bucknell, which help make the case to other donors who are considering making campaign gifts.

As part of its Executive Session, the trustees and the University leadership discussed the recent pledge of $9 million from two trustees to construct a wrestling center and leadership facility next to the KLARC, as I mentioned in my April board meeting summary. We are deeply appreciative of this generosity and the strong support it demonstrates for a wrestling program of which we are so proud and for leadership opportunities for all our students. Recognizing the operating and maintenance costs that would come with this building, we have concluded that at this time it is not financially sustainable to proceed with constructing this building, even as impactful as it would be. Instead, we will be looking for alternative ways to target investments to address the needs of our wrestling program, which is sorely in need of new practice facilities, and our student leadership programs, which are so important to the student experience and the future of our campus climate.

Saturday's open board meeting featured a presentation by Prof. Michael Johnson Cramer, director of the School of Management (SOM). Last week, the school welcomed the visiting committee of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which is responsible for accreditation of management and business schools. In his board presentation, Michael described the work that went into preparing for this visit and the compelling difference that accreditation would make in the strength and attractiveness of the school for faculty and students alike. My congratulations to Michael and all the faculty and staff in the school for the exceptional job they did preparing for the visiting committee. As you may recall, when Bucknell first began contemplating pursuing accreditation for the SOM, it was anticipated the process could take seven years. If the accreditation review proceeds as we hope, as we believe it will, accreditation will have been secured in three years, a tremendous reflection on everyone involved in preparing the school for this major step forward.

Friday's open board meeting included a presentation on campus life by Provost Mick Smyer and Dean Susan Lantz. They summarized the many steps that have been taken to enrich campus life over the past couple years, and the continuing efforts to work with students to improve the co-curricular and social experience of our students. For example, Mick highlighted the faculty's reaffirming last spring that professors will continue requiring three hours of student preparation each week for each credit earned. The progress is considerable, with changes like those referenced in my August 1 letter, among many others, impacting students of every interest and class year. Perhaps most important, though, is the dialogue that has been developed with student organizations and individual students about the role students can play in changing the campus climate and how the University can work with students to encourage those efforts. With the continued work of many staff and faculty whose efforts have already made such a difference, we can continue to build a campus climate where all students feel welcome and supported.

In Executive Session, the board engaged in candid discussions about its own processes and procedures following a survey of members issued by Chair Ken Freeman '72. There is strong consensus that the steps the board has taken to re-focus its board's energies through seven committees, dedicate meetings primarily to major strategic rather than tactical objectives and allow more fulsome discussion at meetings are not only much welcomed but also are contributing to a more vibrant board culture and engagement.

After board business had concluded, we were pleased to formally dedicate the opening of Academic West and to recognize the individuals whose generosity made the building possible. We were pleased to have with us Jean Russell and Robert Childers, who chose to name the porch, the lounge, a workroom and classroom in honor of Jean's late parents and her late brother, James A. Russell, a member of the Class of 1967. Several other major supporters of Academic West were not able to join us at the ceremony. We are grateful to each of them:

  • Brenda Earl, a member of the Class of 1981 and former trustee.
  • Steve '79 and Bonnie Holmes. Steve is a trustee and chairman of the We Do Campaign. He and Bonnie are the parents of three Bucknell alumni.
  • Bob Rooke, trustee emeritus, and his wife, Natalie, who are honorary co-chairs of the campaign and grandparents of three Bucknell graduates.
  • The Charles Foundation.
  • The Withington Foundation.

If you have not had the opportunity to tour Academic West yet, I hope that you will soon and experience for yourself what a wonderful addition it is to our academic facilities.

My best wishes as the second half of the semester approaches.

Regards,

John

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