Dear Colleagues,

I hope this note finds you well and that were able to enjoy some good time off this summer. It seems impossible that the calendar now reads “August,” a reminder that the official start of the academic year is just weeks away. This year, August also marks a time of significant and exciting change — including changes to my senior staff that will help shape the future of Bucknell.

First, I’d like to welcome our new Provost, Barbara Altmann, who officially joined us on August 1. Barbara brings with her an extraordinary wealth of higher education experience from both academic and administrative perspectives and carries with her a deep appreciation for an undergraduate education rooted in the liberal arts. Barbara is committed to helping Bucknell further realize the benefits of our unique structure in which the Liberal Arts intersect with and are complemented by our programs in Engineering and Management, all in the context of a small, residential-learning environment. Barbara’s leadership will be instrumental as we navigate the many challenges and opportunities before us. You may read more about her. I also invite you to join me in welcoming Barbara to the Bucknell community at a reception on Tuesday, Aug. 25, from 4-5:30 p.m. in the Terrace Room. A more formal invitation is forthcoming.

In addition, I am happy to share with you three other notable changes to our Operations & Management Group. 

As some will recall, we have been engaged in an extensive and thorough national search for an individual to lead our Division of Communications. We considered numerous highly qualified candidates, but the lengthy search afforded me the time to appreciate that the person best suited for the position was already among us. I am pleased to inform you that Andy Hirsch has accepted my offer to assume the permanent role of Chief Communications Officer, reporting to me. During his 16 months as the interim leader of Communications, Andy earned my deep admiration and trust, and that of my OMG colleagues. I want to thank Andy and the entire Division of Communications for enduring an extended search, albeit one with a very successful conclusion. 

For those of you who have yet to work with Pierre Joanis, you may be unaware of all that he’s done to transform our office of Human Resources from what was in many ways a transactional operation into a campus resource that also focuses on strategic planning for all of Bucknell. Pierre embodies the attributes paramount to our continued success; in particular, I appreciate the forward-looking, data-driven and highly intentional mindset he brings to his work. Given the important role that Human Resources must play in an organization that is people-centric, as ours is, and given his contributions to date, I have promoted Pierre to the position of Vice President for Human Resources, now reporting to me. 

Finally, as an undergraduate-focused, residential-learning University, we are, above all, a student-centered institution. As a result, our Division of Student Affairs is a critical partner in delivering on our mission. The demands on this unit, and on the Dean of Students in particular, are great and seemingly endless. To our good fortune, we have an individual with an exceptional combination of experience, skill and passion for our students’ well-being to lead Student Affairs. Thus, I am delighted to inform you that Amy Badal has accepted my offer to become our Dean of Students, reporting to the Provost. Amy has more than 14 years of service at Bucknell. She has served as Acting Dean of Students since March and has performed magnificently under some of the most challenging circumstances in Bucknell’s recent history.

Please join me in welcoming Barbara and congratulating Andy, Pierre and Amy. I am confident in and excited by their forthcoming contributions, which will undoubtedly aid our collective effort of becoming a stronger, sustainable institution of higher learning. Their addition to the OMG represents what I believe is truly a new day for Bucknell. We are not immune to the many challenges facing higher education — including disruptive shifts to the demographic, geographic and financial models to which we’ve grown accustomed. Addressing those challenges will require all of us to think differently about the ways in which we pursue our core mission of educating young individuals for, as our Mission Statement reads, “a lifetime of critical thinking and strong leadership characterized by continued intellectual exploration, creativity, and imagination.” I believe, truly and wholly, that we, the current stewards of Bucknell, are positioned to not only confront those challenges, but to also take advantage of opportunities that will distinguish our University from a sea of peer institutions and an increasing number of alternatives to a traditional college education.  

I hope you, like me, are inspired by all that we can achieve. There is great and exciting work happening across campus, some of which I will detail later this month when I write to you with my regular summer update. Together, united in purpose, we can strengthen Bucknell’s short-term success and help ensure its long-term viability. We can define who we are becoming. 

I look forward to seeing you all soon.

My best,

John

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