Presidential Professors

Presidential Professorships are honorary positions that recognize members of the Bucknell faculty for outstanding achievement in all three areas of University life: teaching, scholarship and service. Professorships are awarded annually to two faculty members for a three-year term, so that six faculty members hold the title of Presidential Professor in any given year. Recipients receive additional funding to support teaching, research and scholarship as well as a paid one-semester leave.

Selection of Presidential Professors is based on a sustained record of distinguished teaching and scholarship as well as significant service to the University and the profession. To qualify for selection, eligible faculty must have served at least four years at the rank of full professor and demonstrate outstanding teaching and scholarship via a nomination letter from a senior faculty member familiar with their work and a summary of their retention, promotion or post-tenure review processes provided by their college’s dean.

Eligible faculty members are invited to apply annually in the fall semester.

2022–2025 Presidential Professors

Karline McLain joined the Department of Religious Studies in 2005. She is chair of the Department of Women’s & Gender Studies, co-chair of the University Review Committee, former associate dean of faculty for the Division of Arts & Humanities, and former chair of the Department of Religious Studies. The 2016 recipient of the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, McLain has received numerous scholarly awards, including a grant and a chair funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities as well as an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant. Her scholarship combines rigorous training in classical Sanskrit texts; linguistic skills in Urdu, Hindi and Marathi; familiarity with the visual canon of Indian art, mythology and popular media; detailed knowledge of modern Indian history and politics; and a broad range of methods relevant to the study of religion, media and popular culture in South Asia. McLain plans to use her award funding to continue research for her book in progress, Gandhi’s Ashrams: Residential Experiments in Universal Wellbeing.

Virginia Zimmerman is the chair of the Department of English, which she joined in 2002, as well as the director of the Literary Studies Program. She is both a critical and creative writer, with a focus on Victorian literature and special interest in the themes of time and childhood. A recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities chair, Zimmerman has chaired the Committee on Admissions & Financial Aid and served on numerous departmental and curricular review committees. She was named 2021 Faculty Member of the Year by the Bucknellian and was selected to direct the Bucknell in London program in fall 2023. In addition to studying encounters with deep time in 19th-century literature and the nexus of time and materiality in children’s literature, Zimmerman is the author of several young adult novels and children’s books. With her Presidential Professorship funding, she plans to pursue archival research for a book manuscript tentatively titled Making Time; and work on her newest novel for children, Weird Sisters.

Current and Past Presidential Professors