In the end, the choice was clear. That's not to say there weren't many highly qualified candidates seeking to become Bucknell's next provost. But after narrowing that group to 11 for off-site interviews, and then to four finalists for on-campus interviews, Barbara Altmann emerged as the overwhelming choice of the nearly 80 faculty, staff and students with whom she met during her visit.
"The feedback on Barbara was overwhelmingly enthusiastic," said Professor and Faculty Chair Kim Daubman. Daubman also co-chaired the provostial search committee with President John Bravman. "Barbara's depth of experience, vision for a liberal-arts based undergraduate education, and proven track record of consensus building across constituencies make her an obvious choice to be Bucknell's next provost."
"I am excited about working with Barbara as she truly understands the unique position that Bucknell occupies in higher education and believes, as we all do, that our future is bright," added Vice President for Enrollment Management Bill Conley, who also sat on the search committee.
Altmann is currently the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at the University of Oregon, where she's responsible for the university's undergraduate and graduate studies, its curriculum and program development, and submits recommendations to the provost on all tenure- and non-tenure-track faculty promotions. Altmann also sits on numerous committees, including Oregon's Academic Leadership Team, Faculty Advisory Council and Undergraduate Council.
A humanist in both heart and mind, Altmann also served as the director of the Oregon Humanities Center. A Professor of French, she spent three years as the head of the university's Department of Romance Languages, where she oversaw a department of 45 faculty and 40 graduate teaching fellows. More than 3,000 students take classes in the department each term. Altmann holds her doctorate in medieval French language and literature from the University of Toronto. Her research area is late-medieval French language, literature, and manuscripts, and she has published extensively on fourteenth- and fifteenth-century French literature.
"Bucknell has landed an outstanding humanist," said Professor of French & Francophone Studies Logan Connors. "An expert in medieval French literature and culture, Barbara has published widely on the representation of gender in the late Middle Ages, Christine de Pizan's poetry, the Old French epic, as well as on the role of medieval French literature in the classroom. She's earned significant research fellowships from respected entities such as National Endowment for the Humanities and the Camargo Foundation. We are thrilled to have a provost with such broad international experience."
"Barbara understands that being a humanist is less a disciplinary identity than it is a commitment to the value of education as a critically formative experience in the lives of human beings," added Professor Maria Antonaccio, religion.
Altmann's enthusiasm for Bucknell's future was evident to the faculty, staff and students with whom she met during the interview process. "Barbara's depth of experience coupled with her vibrant personality make her the perfect fit for Bucknell," noted Loren Jablon '15, also a member of the search committee. "As a student who will soon be a young alumnus, I am looking forward to seeing her contributions to what I know is a bright future for Bucknell."
Altmann's blend of scholarly and administrative experience helped facilitate what Professor Emily Dryden, mathematics, described as candid, thoughtful discussions about the opportunities and challenges facing Bucknell. "She will be a strong leader who will help us seize those opportunities and work creatively to overcome those challenges," Dryden said.
"Barbara compellingly articulated a vision in which each of our academic divisions, and indeed our entire supporting infrastructure, is instrumental in together nurturing the lofty goals of a liberal education that we expect to see in Bucknell graduates," Professor Jeff Csernica, chemical engineering, said.
Excited by the opportunity to join Bucknell before her visit to campus, Altmann left convinced that the University is poised for even great success, and is eager to play a pivotal role in realizing its full potential.
"I'm honored and delighted to be coming to Bucknell," Altmann said. "Every conversation I've had with students, faculty and staff confirms what I already believed to be true: Bucknell is an exceptional university and a very special place. I'm excited to help make it even better."
Altmann and and her husband, John Stacey, a psychologist, will move to Lewisburg this summer. She'll officially join Bucknell on Aug. 1.
"Barbara's rich scholarly achievements, administrative experience and great enthusiasm for an undergraduate education steeped in the liberal arts make her an excellent choice to be our next provost," said Bravman. "I have great confidence in the leadership Barbara will provide as we navigate the rapidly changing landscape in higher education, and continue our evolution toward a stronger, more distinctive Bucknell."