Aspiration. It's a foundational element of Bucknell President John Bravman's vision for the University's future. It was aspiration that drove Bravman to increase the goal for WE DO, The Campaign for Bucknell University, from $400 million to half-a-billion dollars before its launch in October 2012.
Now, less than five years later, the hope of achieving such an ambitious goal has transformed into a reality — the University has surpassed WE DO's $500 million milestone.
"This is an extraordinary achievement, one only possible through the commitment of tens of thousands of donors who not only believe in the power of a Bucknell education, but also aspire to make what is already an excellent institution even stronger," Bravman said.
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From $10 to $10 million and more, commitments of all sizes from more than 44,000 donors brought WE DO to its successful conclusion, and in impressive fashion: The University raised more than $100 million in the past 12 months alone, shattering the previous one-year record of $53.5 million.
The defining moment came with a phone call to Bravman in mid-June. On the other end of the line was Ken Langone '57, P'83 with news that he and his wife, Elaine P'83, were pledging to make a future gift of $30 million — the largest single commitment in Bucknell's history — to benefit financial aid, the campaign's top fundraising priority.
"It was a conversation I'll never forget," Bravman said. "Many people who see Ken and Elaine's names on two of our most prominent buildings might not appreciate their true passion: creating opportunities for young people to pursue their dreams through the power of a Bucknell education."
With the conclusion of the campaign, the Langones also revealed they were behind a 2013 anonymous pledge of $10 million, also for future financial aid. Their WE DO gifts and pledges total more than $42 million.
"Ken, like myself, is a first-generation college student, so he knows firsthand the life-changing impact of a Bucknell education," Bravman added. "Through their continued support, he and Elaine have transformed the lives of an untold number of future Bucknellians. On behalf of the entire Bucknell community, I extend my deepest gratitude to Ken and Elaine for their generosity and leadership."
Campaign support will benefit Bucknell students, faculty and staff, and the campus today and in the future. More than $170 million has been raised for financial aid endowment, more than $100 million for academic programs and support, and more than $60 million for facilities. Finally, thousands of alumni, parents and friends have collectively given more than $130 million to the Bucknell Annual Fund.
"I am humbled to be part of such a devoted community of students, alumni, parents, faculty and staff, and friends," said Bravman, who is entering his eighth year as Bucknell's 17th president. "It's difficult to express my deep gratitude for their belief in Bucknell. We pride ourselves on a tradition of great education and great outcomes, and the success of the WE DO Campaign positions Bucknell to evolve into an even stronger University for many decades to come — long after our time as stewards of this institution has passed."
The Langones' $30 million commitment was the second record-breaking gift of the campaign. In February 2016, Bob '45, P'75, P'79, P'87 and Doris Malesardi pledged $20 million to endowed scholarships and created a matching-gift program designed to amplify the impact of their support. To date, the matching program has inspired more than 70 gifts totaling nearly $23 million. In honor of their support and leadership, the University officially renamed the academic heart of campus the Malesardi Quadrangle.
WE DO garnered significant support at the highest level from several other Bucknellians as well, whose gifts and pledges benefit areas across the University. Major commitments came from donors including:
Campaign Chairman Steve Holmes '79, P'06, P'08 and his wife, Bonnie P'06, P'08, whose WE DO gifts have benefited financial aid, the Annual Fund and academic and athletics facilities;
William Graham '62, whose generosity made possible the Graham Building, which houses Bucknell Student Health, the Counseling & Student Development Center and a wrestling facility;
Kitty McDonnell '94 and her parents, James and Elizabeth McDonnell P'94, who through the JSM Charitable Trust created and endowed the Bucknell Global Scholars Program, which will help make overseas study more affordable for students who receive financial aid;
Josephine Detmer '52, P'79 and her daughter, Zareen Taj Mirza '79, whose gifts funded the current renovation of a permanent home for the Humanities Center and endowed the University's first professorship in Islamic studies;
William Morrow '70 and his wife, Madeline, whose support spans an array of designations including financial aid, Academic West, a visiting scholar in English and the Stories of the Susquehanna Valley project;
Jean Russell, whose gifts in honor of her late brother, James A. Russell '67, helped build Academic West and endowed funds for Bertrand Library and a professorship in the natural sciences;
William Dearstyne '62, P'89 and his wife, Tockey P'89, whose support has benefited the Bucknell Athletics Leadership Institute, men's and women's swimming, and music;
Benard Sampson '69, P'96 and his late brother Myles '67, who have supported financial aid and Bucknell's outdoor leadership programming and facilities; and
"I am so grateful for the strong support of Bucknell alumni and parents from around the world, and I could not be prouder of our team," said Scott Rosevear, vice president for Development & Alumni Relations. "It was a tremendous collaborative effort by faculty, staff and volunteers, and it's gratifying to know that together with our supporters, we have positively impacted the Bucknell experience for current and future students."
More details about campaign results will be released over the summer, Rosevear added.
Cause for celebration
One of the most important outcomes of WE DO is not measured in dollars, but in enthusiasm and support for the University on a scale never before seen among Bucknellians, Bravman noted. Over the course of the campaign, thousands of alumni, parents, volunteers and friends attended WE DO events both on campus and across the country.
"The response from alumni, parents and other supporters has been heartwarming and heartfelt. Those emotions and that legacy will continue long past this campaign," said Holmes, the campaign chairman. "WE DO has strengthened the sense of community among Bucknellians and instilled an even greater pride in the University. We trust that future Bucknellians will continue this tradition of support for our alma mater."
This fall, campaign celebrations will be part of two of the University's signature events, Family Weekend (Sept. 22-24) and Homecoming (Nov. 3-5).
"We hope to see as many Bucknellians as possible come back to Lewisburg to join in the commemoration of this wonderful achievement, and to allow us to say 'thank you' in person," said Rosevear.
Read about more WE DO gifts and news from throughout the campaign.