Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

It is a great pleasure to welcome you to the start of another school year here at Bucknell. I hope you have had a great summer and are looking forward to a very full and enjoyable academic year.

Wendy and I are thrilled to have joined you at Bucknell, and are grateful to everyone for the warm welcome you have given us and our son Cole. You have already made Bucknell feel to us as if it has always been our home, and I deeply appreciate the kindness you have extended to my family and me. As we start our first fall semester with you, I thought you would value having a summary of activities at the University over the summer.

First and foremost, we proudly welcome the members of the Class of 2014 and our new transfer students to Bucknell. The new group of first-year students joins us from 34 states across America, plus the District of Columbia and 34 other countries, the largest contingent of international students in Bucknell's history.

We are honored by the trust that all of these new students and their families have placed in the University, and are delighted they have become part of the Bucknell community.

It was wonderful to be with the Class of 2014 during a variety of their Orientation events, and I thank all the faculty and staff who shared in these events, including Tuesday night's Convocation and Candlelighting, the academic sessions over the weekend, and the welcome dinner last Friday. Special thanks and congratulations to all those in our Student Affairs Office involved in putting together the comprehensive Orientation events and especially to the dedicated and enthusiastic students who served as Orientation Assistants and Orientation Leaders.

We also are proud to welcome to Bucknell our 12 new tenure-track faculty, who were selected to join this tremendous learning community after intensive national searches. I have no doubt that they bring to the University the deep commitment to excellence as teachers and as scholars for which our faculty is so widely respected.

This academic year will be the first at Bucknell for our new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. George Shields, who joined us in July. Dr. Shields previously served as the founding dean of science and technology at Armstrong Atlantic State University, and prior to that role served as a professor of chemistry at Hamilton College, where he was the Winslow Professor of Chemistry and served as chair of the department. We look forward to the many contributions that we know George will make to Bucknell and the excellence of the college.

I know we also have a variety of new staff about to start their first academic year at Bucknell. To them we extend a warm welcome and our best hopes that this year marks a great beginning to a long and wonderful experience at the University.

As the year gets underway, there have been a number of changes and improvements to the physical spaces of the campus. These include the following:

  • The new Barnes & Noble at Bucknell University Bookstore on Market Street, which I think is simply a magnificent space. I have especially enjoyed learning how a former storefront and warehouse was transformed into this beautiful bookstore with all its thoughtful artistic connections to Bucknell and Lewisburg. Starting tomorrow, a series of events will officially mark the grand opening of the bookstore, including a community street fair from 5-7 p.m. tomorrow, August 27. Everyone on campus is invited, and I hope to see you there. You can learn more about these events at

    With the bookstore move completed, the renovations to the space in the Elaine Langone Center that formerly housed the bookstore are now underway. I am happy to report that most of the renovations will be completed by the end of the fall semester. The space will include a large gathering and discussion area for students as well as various student leadership and activities offices.
  • This summer, the University has made substantial renovations to Bucknell Cottage, an historic building adjacent to Larison Hall that is also home to students and has long been in need of these improvements.
  • In the coming days, construction will begin near the Bucknell Golf Club on the instructional golf facility for our men's and women's varsity teams. This facility will provide year-round driving ranges and training features primarily for use by our student-athletes. This facility, which was first announced a couple years ago as a fund-raising target of opportunity during campus master planning, has now been fully committed by private donors.
  • The University continues to investigate combining economic development funds with some university resources to purchase the U.S. Post Office Building on the corner of Market and Third Streets in Lewisburg. Should this project occur, I must stress that the U.S. Post Office station will remain in the post office building, as it provides a valuable service for downtown and other local residents.

    Our intention is to move approximately 65 staff from the Development and Alumni Relations Office into the post office building. This will further strengthen the economic vitality of downtown Lewisburg, which is so important to the University.

This year we will see important steps forward in the plans for building Academic West and new student housing. We will discuss Academic West in detail with the Board of Trustees at the upcoming Board retreat in late September. The plan is to place Academic West on the southwest side of the Bertrand Library. It will provide space for numerous classroom and academic offices, and will have the added benefit of creating a domino-effect in opening up offices across campus as the faculty currently in other office space move to Academic West. I consider the creation of new faculty offices and classrooms the single most important issue we must address in the University's physical plant.

We will discuss new student housing possibilities with the Board later this year. Throughout the summer, my colleagues in the administration and I have been evaluating in detail a variety of options for developing these new facilities so that they meet Bucknell's needs as cost-effectively as possible, and we look forward to continuing that dialogue with the trustees.

This summer, the University crossed an important milestone in the comprehensive campaign. The campaign goal is currently $400 million and, as of July 1, our alumni, families, faculty, staff and friends had committed more than $150 million in gifts and pledges to the campaign. In addition, the University has secured almost $20 million in state and federal support, by far the most it has ever raised from such sources. I want to commend President Mitchell, our trustees, the development and alumni relations staff, and the many others in the University community who have worked so hard to attract these resources to Bucknell. Most of all, I want to thank our donors. More than 29,000 individuals have now made commitments to the campaign, a meaningful sign of how far the University's impact reaches.

As the campaign goes forward, we intend to make the case for investment in the University with unprecedented energy and intensity. I believe investing in a great university like Bucknell is one of the most important ways an individual can help the lives of others, and I very much look forward to talking with Bucknell's many supporters and friends around the country and the world about the University of which we are all so privileged to be a part.

The summer has given Wendy and me a chance to begin meeting many colleagues on campus, and in these first few days of the school year, we have met many students and families. For us these encounters have been the best part of our move to Bucknell. We heard time and again when we considered coming to Bucknell that the people here are wonderful, and everything in our experience has certainly confirmed that view. My goal this year is to visit with every academic department and to meet as many of you as I can. I am looking forward to it, and hope you will continue to help me put faces with names.

The new academic year promises much ahead, including not only the items mentioned above, but also searches for the dean of engineering, the dean of students, and the vice president for development and alumni relations, among other major objectives. Discussions among the trustees about the promise of Academic West will take on new depth and seriousness. Other possibilities for the continued success of the Campus Master Plan and the campaign will come to fruition. But most of all it promises to be a year in which all of us, whether we are new students and colleagues or old Bucknell hands, get to share the experience of beginning many new friendships.

Wendy joins me in thanking you for your contributions to the high-quality of the experience here at the University, and in extending our best wishes for a wonderful start to the academic year.


John C. Bravman