President's Message from Bucknell Magazine, Winter 2017

There is an image of Steve Jobs, the late creative visionary behind Apple, that is forever etched in my mind. Gaunt of face and frame, he’s standing on stage in his trademark black turtleneck and jeans, gesturing toward the projection of a street sign that marks an intersection. The top sign reads technology; the bottom one reads liberal arts. That Jobs invoked the liberal arts during his final public speech, just months before his death in 2011, is significant. “I thought it was worth repeating that it’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — that it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities that yields us the result that makes our heart sing,” he told his last audience.

In an interview Jobs gave many years earlier he similarly espoused the liberal-artsmeets- tech philosophy of his company.

“Part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians and poets and artists and zoologists and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world. We all brought to this effort a very liberal arts attitude that we wanted to pull in the best that we saw in these other fields into this field. I don’t think you get that if you are very narrow.” In fact, it was his study of calligraphy at Reed College that Jobs credits for the beautiful typography he designed for the first Mac. “It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating,” he said.

Examples of Job’s philosophy are readily apparent at Bucknell today, as new trustee David Feinberg, president and CEO of Geisinger Health System, pointed out during his first Board of Trustees meeting this fall. “To study at an institution such as Bucknell is to hone the skills that you need to succeed in life, regardless of how you define that success. We can teach the science in medical school, but give me the students who can think critically and communicate well.”

At Bucknell we offer an educational experience in ways that often transcend the classic definition of a liberal arts institution. For instance, in addition to our College of Arts & Sciences, we offer robust engineering and management programs; our size affords our students the resources of a larger university, but in an intimate, residential-learning environment; and our athletics program comprises 27 Division I teams. This distinctive opportunity for a liberal learning experience is the essence of Bucknell, as indicated in our mission statement, which reads in part: “Bucknell is a unique national university where liberal arts and professional programs complement each other. Bucknell educates students for a lifetime of critical thinking and strong leadership characterized by continued intellectual exploration, creativity and imagination.”

Life is animated by this kind of rich, broad learning. It makes for better employees and in the long run — and more importantly — more interested and interesting people. ’ray Bucknell.

 

John Bravman