New buildings and new degree programs do not alone characterize Bucknell or identify its uniqueness as an educational institution. From the outset, Bucknell developed traditions that have strengthened and sustained its mission as a teaching institution. The first of these traditions, and perhaps the strongest, is the sturdy independence of mind of those individuals who have served Bucknell.
Howard Malcom, the first president of the University at Lewisburg, had resigned as president of Georgetown College (Kentucky) because of his strong opposition to slavery. A decade later, virtually the entire Bucknell student body, seven faculty members, and President Justin Loomis demonstrated their opposition to slavery by enlisting. As the Confederate Army approached Gettysburg in 1863, the college closed its doors and practically the entire male student body marched off to defend the state.
One of the casualties of the war was Andrew Gregg Tucker, Class of 1862, who was killed at Gettysburg and buried in the shadow of the campus.
Today, independence of mind is reflected in the diversity of political and religious views represented by faculty members and students. The presence on campus of a broad spectrum of political, religious, and intellectual opinion challenges students today, as it did during the Civil War, to define their ethical stance and to develop the habit of moral as well as intellectual inquiry.