For decades, Bob Malesardi, Class of 1945, has championed the importance of philanthropy to Bucknell University. In an essay in a 1973 issue of the University's alumni magazine, the successful business leader sought to inspire his fellow Bucknellians to support their alma mater. "By giving to Bucknell, you provide the children of today the same opportunities we had to receive a superior education," he wrote. More than four decades later, Malesardi and his wife, Doris, have ensured that generations of students will have those opportunities, pledging an unprecedented $20 million to Bucknell, the largest single commitment in University history.
"This is one of the most meaningful and gratifying decisions of my life," Malesardi said. "All of the success I've experienced is in someway rooted in the education I received at Bucknell."
The pledge will be dedicated entirely to supporting financial aid. The Malesardis hope to amplify its impact through a matching-gift program designed to inspire others to make their own philanthropic commitments to the University. Details of that program will be released later this spring.
"This is truly a transformative commitment to Bucknell, one that will greatly enhance our ability to attract outstanding students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to attend our University," said Bucknell President John Bravman. "Bob and Doris have a deep appreciation for the impact a Bucknell education can have on an individual. This gift will quite literally change the lives of an untold number of students, and we are profoundly grateful for Bob and Doris' support."
Malesardi majored in accounting at Bucknell and was a member of the wrestling team, the Navy V-12 program and Sigma Chi. Prior to his retirement, the World War II veteran spent many years operating an accounting firm and developing real estate. Until recently, he co-owned the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach, Fla. Malesardi is also a former Bucknell trustee whose previous gifts to the University have supported scholarships and the Ellen Clarke Bertrand Library. To commemorate those gifts, the University in 1988 named one of the Gateway Residence Center buildings Malesardi Hall.
This latest and historic commitment will receive exceptional recognition. In honor of the pledge, Bucknell's Board of Trustees has approved renaming the University's iconic Academic Quadrangle. The site of Commencement, the Quad is Bucknell's central green space — a hub framed by Bertrand Library, the Vaughan Literature Building, Coleman Hall and panoramic views of the Susquehanna Valley. Once finalized, the new name will ensure that the Malesardi legacy will endure at Bucknell in both name and spirit.
"Bob and Doris' philanthropy marks a historic moment in the life of the University, and the Board of Trustees could not be more grateful for their inspiring vision and leadership," said Ken Freeman, Class of 1972 and chair of the Board of Trustees. "This gift will benefit Bucknell in immeasurable ways for generations to come. By naming the academic heart of Bucknell for the Malesardis, our community will always be reminded of this magnificent commitment."
"It is particularly special to know that the Malesardi family legacy will forever be tied to such an iconic place of learning and celebration," said Malesardi.
The $20 million pledge pushes the total raised in WE DO, The Campaign for Bucknell University close to $400 million. The most ambitious campaign in University history, the WE DO Campaign seeks to raise half-a-billion dollars, $150 million of which will support the campaign's top priority: scholarships and financial aid.
"I have sincere affection, pride and respect for this great University," said Malesardi, who was 16 when he enrolled. "This pledge is the culmination of my 75-year relationship with Bucknell."