LEWISBURG, Pa. – Brian C. Mitchell was inaugurated Saturday, April 30, as the 16th president of Bucknell University.
Nearly, 4,000 alumni, students, faculty and staff, and community guests joined together in Sojka Pavilion to celebrate the occasion during which Mitchell outlined his vision for the future of Bucknell.
The inauguration was filled with pomp and circumstance.
Nearly 110 delegates from the nation’s colleges and universities, wearing colorful academic regalia, were in attendance. Marching in the order in which their institution was founded, delegates ranged from Harvard University, founded in 1636, to DeSales University, founded in 1965.
A dozen sitting college and university presidents participated in the installation celebration, one of the largest gatherings of presidents in state history.
Forty-four students carried flags representing their home states, while the flags of 69 countries were paraded by students from those countries. In a light moment, the last of the student-carried flags was the Boston Red Sox team flag, a nod to Mitchell’s beloved team and New England roots.
Mitchell was introduced in greetings by alumni, student, parent, faculty, staff, university trustee, and Borough of Lewisburg representatives.
"Today is a landmark event in the life of the university that we hold so dear and value so highly," said Susan Crawford, chair, Board of Trustees and a 1969 graduate of Bucknell. "Our mission and sense of shared purpose are being renewed." (Complete text.)
Judith Wagner, mayor, Borough of Lewisburg, said Mitchell’s outreach to the community has "created an aura of expectation and excitement of great things to come as we work together." (Complete text.)
During his 28-minute inaugural address Mitchell detailed his strategy for the future of Bucknell. (Complete text.)
"We have much work to do," said Mitchell. "One of the concerns I have had since becoming president has been that the very qualities that make Bucknell an exceptional place also inhibit a sense of urgency about mission and diminish the need for aggressive vision for the future."
He added, "To protect the so-called ‘Bucknell Bubble,’ we must at times be prepared to burst it."
Mitchell said that within a year the significant community dialogue that has been taking place on and off campus will produce a strategic plan, "The Plan for Bucknell." He said the resulting plan will be "simple and straightforward with a few overarching, interconnected themes" that will shape the university’s direction for the next six to eight years.
The community dialogue, he said, has yielded several themes from which objectives, enabling strategies, and funding priorities will likely take shape.
"Overwhelmingly, Bucknellians call for building support rapidly for the academic program," he said. "We must define a Bucknell education … as the product of a thousand teachable moments offered every waking hour across four years in residence and reaching to every corner of campus."
Another theme focused on diversity.
"We are a national university but have not thought through how we can become a genuinely international one," said Mitchell, adding that the university’s support for students and faculty of color is "wholly insufficient, not sustainable and without clear vision or purpose."
He said that Bucknell must set excellence in minority recruitment, climate and retention. "Bucknell will never fully achieve its stature within American higher education until it defines diversity in all its forms and embraces its own definition. This is a challenge we must accept."
Another theme echoed in the address was financial.
"Bucknell enjoys a strong enrollment base, low debt, little deferred maintenance, a balanced budget and growing alumni support, but it cannot become what our ambitions suggest without a major improvement in our endowment," he said.
Mitchell also said Bucknell maintains relationships with the outside world on many levels, but "our goal must be to move beyond this ‘city on the hill’ to a progressive and deepening engagement with the outside world. The world must come to Bucknell and we must be prepared to reciprocate."
Mitchell also praised the student population on multiple levels, ranging from the success of the men’s basketball team and Greeks raising philanthropic dollars to numerous recent academic successes.
Bucknell, he said, is "about the strength of American higher education, about the promise that comes with being among a handful of the best places, and about how minds trained here are exceptional."
For more information about the inauguration, including a complete text of Mitchell's inaugural address and an archived video of the inaugural, visit http://www.bucknell.edu/x6260.xml
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