Creating a legacy was the last thing on Bob Malesardi's mind when he arrived at Bucknell as a 16-year-old member of the Class of 1945.
Seventy-five years later, he stood with his family on the Malesardi Quadrangle, named in honor of his recent pledge of $20 million — the single-largest gift in University history, made with his wife, Doris. The commitment from Bob Malesardi's estate will be used exclusively to support financial aid endowment and will benefit Bucknellians for generations to come.
"Our children's children and the children of people not yet born, will come stand on this spot and know what you've done," President John Bravman told the couple at the April 30 dedication ceremony. "It takes the generosity of thousands and some very special few, to make a permanent, lasting impact. Your legacy is now firmly ensconced in this beautiful, special place — the academic heart of the University."
Members of the Board of Trustees, students, friends and family gathered at the north end of the Quad and applauded as Bravman unveiled a mockup of the plaque that will be permanently installed there. Handsome bronze plaques that read "Malesardi Quadrangle" already adorn corner pillars on the buildings that line the Quad, reminding all who walk its paths of the Malesardis' pledge, a permanent investment in Bucknell and its students.
Bob Malesardi was visibly moved during the ceremony, which was attended by Doris and his daughters, Carol Malesardi Litwak '75, Janet Malesardi Schaeder '79, Ann Malesardi '87 and Jill Malesardi.
"I'm almost crying, I feel so happy now," he said. "It's wonderful. Bucknell has been such a big part of my life and three of my daughters also went here. That makes this day really special."
Formerly known as the Academic Quad, the Malesardi Quadrangle is Bucknell's central green space, bounded by Bertrand Library, the Vaughan Literature Building, Coleman Hall and a panoramic northern view of the Susquehanna Valley. In just a couple of weeks, it will host the University's 166th Commencement — the first to take place on the Malesardi Quadrangle, noted Bravman, who also presented the family with a framed preview copy of the Commencement program that will bear their name.
A matching-gift program designed to encourage other donors to support financial aid will enhance the Malesardis' $20 million pledge. Details of the program will be announced soon.
Ken Freeman '72, chairman of the Board of Trustees, noted that the impact of the Malesardis' commitment, particularly when combined with matching gifts, has a transformative potential beyond that of brick-and-mortar investments.
"What Bob and Doris did goes to the heart of what we do here, which is keeping the University strong and ensuring we have the resources to make sure students can attend Bucknell for generations to come," he said.
Freeman recalled the dramatic impact of a $15 million scholarship gift created by the late Ted Ammon '71 during the University's last comprehensive campaign in the 1990s. Ammon's matching-gift program resulted in $60 million in new scholarship funding, raising the percentage of students receiving scholarships from 35 to nearly 50 percent and increasing admissions selectivity. The Malesardis' pledge, he noted, could have an even greater ripple effect.
Current scholarship recipients attended the dedication for the opportunity to personally thank the Malesardis for their support of financial aid. Trevana Eades '18, a Charles T. Bauer Scholar who is planning a career in medicine, was among them.
"This was really important to me, because without my scholarship, I wouldn't be at Bucknell today," said Eades, who majors in psychology and political science. "I think what the Malesardis did will give people like me an opportunity to experience Bucknell and the great things it has to offer."
The newest chapter in the family's rich Bucknell legacy begins this fall, when Bob and Doris' granddaughter Kelly Shaner, Ann's daughter, arrives on campus as a member of the Class of 2020. Kelly will be the second Malesardi grandchild to matriculate, following in the footsteps of Carol's daughter, Allison Litwak '08.
"The Malesardis' deep commitment to this University goes well beyond their unparalleled financial generosity," said Bravman. "To entrust us with the education of another generation truly reflects both their passion for Bucknell and the impactful experience we as an institution can deliver."