For Michael Pascucci '58, P'81, P'87, G'21, G'22, a Bucknell education was an opportunity.
Born in Manhasset, Long Island, Pascucci was the first member of his immediate family to attend college. His father, whose education stopped at grade school, and high school-educated mother worked hard to ensure he had access to quality schooling. When he arrived at Bucknell (on the recommendation of lifelong friend and Bucknell Trustee Emeritus Ken Langone '57), Pascucci poured his own sweat and devotion into making the most of his shot at success.
Bucknell enabled Pascucci to succeed — to a degree he could never have anticipated at age 17. Today, he's made a commitment that will unlock the life-changing opportunities afforded by a Bucknell education for thousands of future students and for generations to come.
Pascucci has pledged more than $40 million to Bucknell, the largest one-time commitment in the University's history. Of this historic pledge, $30 million will support unrestricted, need-based financial aid endowment through the Pascucci Family Scholarship, providing a transformative boost for the University's No. 1 fundraising priority.
Over $10 million more will enable improvements in and around Christy Mathewson–Memorial Stadium. In recognition of Pascucci's historic commitment to both financial aid and athletics, the area of campus including the stadium and the Christy Mathewson Gates will be named the Pascucci Family Athletics Complex.
"The extraordinary generosity of Michael Pascucci will have a permanent impact on our University's most imperative calling — ensuring that the power and opportunity of a Bucknell education is accessible," John C. Bravman, Bucknell University president, said in recognition of the pledge. "Many future generations of Bucknellians to come will owe a deep gratitude and appreciation for the generosity of Michael, his family and the Pascucci Family Foundation. On their behalf, we extend a heartfelt thank-you."
Pascucci says that his commitment is about offering the students of tomorrow the same kinds of life-changing opportunities that opened up the world for him.
His major in finance at Bucknell gave Pascucci his start in the finance industry, which he began while pursuing an MBA in the evenings. His career progressed through a string of successful ventures, including one of the nation's largest independent automobile leasing and finance companies, the private investment company Duck Pond Associates and the Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., which he developed and still owns today. He recalls fondly that one of his favorite Bucknell classes was a course in television, radio and film, which laid the foundation for him to, much later, found a television station, WLNY.
Pascucci and his wife, Jocelyn P'81, P'87, G'21, G'22, have also seen the power of a Bucknell education in the experience of two of their four children, Michael '81 and Ralph '87, P'21, and two grandchildren who attended the University. "It's been a first-person audit — I've seen it directly," he says.
But he also still remembers being the scrappy kid from Long Island who occasionally hitchhiked his way back to New York on breaks and never missed a class. His commitment is one for students whose only challenges are financial.
"I feel that life is up to the individual, that what you do with your own life is your choice," Pascucci says. "But everyone doesn't get the same chances or have the opportunity to do their best. If the only reason some students can't go to Bucknell is because of finances, then I want to help them have a chance. What they do at Bucknell is strictly up to them, but I want them to get that shot."
Pascucci's commitment to financial aid follows that inclusive ethos. The bulk of the pledge will bolster the endowment for the Pascucci Family Scholarship, which Pascucci established more than 20 years ago to support students with demonstrated financial need, without other restrictions.
"Through their generous pledge to financial aid, the Pascucci family is establishing a legacy that will transform the lives of future Bucknellians for years to come," says Lisa Keegan, vice president for enrollment management. "Growing Bucknell's financial aid resources will allow us to enroll and retain top students and will ensure that a Bucknell education is a possibility for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds."
Those impacts, adds Vice President for University Advancement Scott Rosevear, are the reason that financial aid and scholarships are Bucknell's highest fundraising priorities.
"Michael Pascucci and his family care deeply about giving opportunities that support young people," Rosevear says. "Through this historic commitment to Bucknell's highest funding priority, financial aid endowment, along with their leadership support for an athletics project that will enhance opportunities for our student-athletes to excel, the Pascucci family will open doors for generations of Bucknellians."
Athletics enhancements funded by the pledge are anticipated to open in 2023, and include the new Michael C. Pascucci Team Center and a turf practice field offering additional training and practice space for eight men's and women's teams. The improvements will be 100% donor funded, including an endowment to offset operations. They will also have a ripple effect that will benefit all of Bucknell's 27 Division I athletics teams by freeing up locker room, training and rehabilitation space in the Kenneth Langone Athletics & Recreation Center and elsewhere on campus. The practice field will also be available for recreational use, spreading the impact on student life even further.
"Enhancements like the Pascucci Family Athletics Complex enable Bucknell to excel as a highly competitive NCAA Division I school with one of the broadest men's and women's athletics programs in all of college sports," says Jermaine Truax, director of athletics & recreation. "Michael Pascucci's commitments to both financial aid and athletics will help Bucknell fulfill our mission of helping our student-athletes reach their fullest potential, on and off the field."
The complex's name will be displayed on a new video board at Christy Mathewson–Memorial Stadium, construction of which is also supported by more than $1 million in giving by additional donors. The new board will be operational this fall.
But Pascucci's most profound legacy won't be found on a sign or the other tributes that bear his name on campus; it will live on in the generations of lives transformed through the opportunity of a Bucknell education, and the myriad impacts those Bucknellians have on our future world.
"There are students who we want at Bucknell today who can't come because of financial issues; I want to be part of the equation that eliminates that," Pascucci says. "The more financial aid we can offer to students in the future, the better — and the better the students we're going to get, who will help Bucknell maintain the high standard it already has. They will make Bucknell even better."