$7.5 Million Commitment Will Expand Global Education at Bucknell

September 14, 2017

For Kitty McDonnell Pipoli '94, world travel is a way of life that began when she was a student studying in Europe.

"My study abroad while at Bucknell was such an important and positive experience for me," said the international relations major. After graduation, Pipoli spent several years leading hiking and biking excursions around the globe as a professional tour guide, and continues to work in the travel industry. "I felt very fortunate and would love for other students to be able to have that advantage, too."

Thanks to a generous commitment from her family trust, more Bucknell students will be able to pursue their own global adventures.  On behalf of Pipoli and her parents, James and Elizabeth McDonnell P'94, the JSM Charitable Trust has pledged $7.5 million to create and endow the Bucknell Global Scholars Program. This commitment, which counts toward the WE DO Campaign, is designed to make overseas study more affordable for students with financial need, beginning in the 2018-2019 academic year.

While financial aid helps many talented students attend Bucknell, it may not always cover the cost of airfare, or travel and activities abroad. It also does not cover study in summer, a time when the University offers an array of "Bucknell In" courses in locations such as South Africa, Japan and Denmark. The McDonnells, whose previous gifts to the University include their namesake residence hall, aim to bridge that gap.

"The ability to thrive in a global environment is essential to success in today's world, and this advantage should be made available to every student," said President John Bravman. "We are tremendously grateful for the McDonnells' extraordinary thoughtfulness and generosity to Bucknell. Jim, Libby and Kitty recognize the life-changing value of overseas travel and experience with other cultures. Through this commitment, they are ensuring that generations of Bucknellians will have the opportunity to enrich their lives through international education."

The lasting impact of study abroad continues to influence Pipoli, who described the experience as a transformative one.

"Living in a foreign country opened my eyes and mind," she said. "It made me appreciate what I have at home as well as the different customs, traditions, history and culture of different places and people. It taught me a lot about myself, and made me more curious and more adaptable to different situations."

About 45 percent of current Bucknell students study abroad or off-campus at some point in their college career, according to the University's Office of Global & Off-campus Education, but evidence suggests that the expense of overseas study holds many others back. Of Bucknell students who spent a semester abroad in the 2015-16 academic year, 27 percent received institutional aid. By contrast, 52 percent of all Bucknell students received institutional aid during the same time period.

"The McDonnells' support will help us remove a significant barrier to study abroad," noted Provost Barbara Altmann. "Much of the value of overseas study lies in the daily experiences of life in a cultural environment different from wherever we grew up. The opportunity to travel and explore is a big part of that exposure. Students who receive financial aid may not be able to absorb such costs easily. By helping them with the everyday expenses of living abroad, we can give them the same transformative experience and cross-cultural perspective that is such an integral part of a liberal arts education."

Read more about donor support for global education in Bucknell Magazine.