By Andy Hirsch
LEWISBURG, Pa. — More than 1,500 Bucknellians returned to campus for a Homecoming celebration that, by all accounts, lived up to its billing as an event unlike anything Bucknell has ever seen.
"It has been amazing. It's so nice seeing everyone and coming back to all of these events, and seeing what's going on around campus because we miss it here," Ian Schnaufer '12 said.
"This is incredible," Lauren Rambo '12 said. "It's even bigger than I thought it was going to be. The lights, the food — everything has just been so much fun."
The weekend featured a host of special events. More than 1,000 alumni, students, faculty and staff filled the Weis Center for the Performing Arts Friday night for a private performance by Grammy Award-winning artist Norah Jones. Following a three-song encore, Jones left the stage to a standing ovation. Afterwards, concertgoers described the show as "phenomenal," "fantastic," and "the best concert I have ever seen." Meanwhile Delta blues and reggae artist Corey Harris entertained 300 in a free concert at the Campus Theatre sponsored by the campaign. Later that night, alternative rock band Vertical Horizon packed Uptown with students for a campaign kick-off concert.
The next morning, more than 800 Bucknellians filled the Weis Center again to enjoy an interview of Walter Isaacson, author of the best-selling biography Steve Jobs, conducted by Jim Cramer, host of CNBC's 'Mad Money.'
Fellow alumni and Board of Trustee members Laura Kinney and Marlene Hurd were among the crowd in the Weis Center lobby after the event, waiting to meet Cramer and Isaacson during a book signing.
"I thought the talk was awesome," said Kinney '81. "Both men were just spectacular, and very intelligent."
"It was wonderful, wonderful getting that perspective," said Hurd '79. "I've read their books, but there's nothing like getting that experience first hand. That was great."
Afterwards, the University Celebration treated alumni, faculty, staff, families and friends to food, fun and a variety of interactive spaces showcasing the work and ideas of faculty and students. The hands-on experiences were designed to embody the spirit of 'We Do' — the theme of the Campaign for Bucknell University, which launched publicly during the weekend. The half-a-billion dollar campaign also celebrated a major milestone, surpassing the $240 million mark, with commitments from nearly 33,000 donors. || Visit the Campaign for Bucknell University homepage.
Saturday night, more than 550 guests, including trustees, alumni, parents, donors, faculty and students, marked the formal launch of the campaign at a gala held in a tent on the quad. The evening featured additional interactive spaces showcasing the work of faculty and students, performances by students, multimedia, and a keynote address by President John Bravman.
"This is truly a great moment in Bucknell's rich, 166-year history," said Scott Rosevear, vice president for development and alumni relations. "We know how passionate our alumni are about Bucknell and its continued success as one of the finest liberal arts institutions in the country. It's their commitment to this University that gives us complete confidence in the success of this campaign."
It has been 16 years since Bucknell last publicly launched a comprehensive campaign. The half-a-billion dollar goal makes it the most ambitious in University history. The money raised will be used to increase funding for scholarships and financial aid, recruit and retain outstanding faculty, and invest in new facilities.
Through the campaign, the University also aims to create or strengthen six academic and residential learning initiatives designed to transform Bucknell's education experience. The initiatives include:
"These initiatives are critical to solidifying Bucknell's status as one of the country's finest liberal arts institution, as is strengthening the University's financial resources," President Bravman said. "But another important and often unmentioned part of this campaign is about building a sustainable, large network of alumni, parents and volunteers who really want to be engaged like never before. They are the key to the success of this campaign, and we're so thankful for the support we've already received. Together, we can shape a magnificent future for this University, and create for our students the best Bucknell we can imagine."
Contact: Division of Communications
View images from Homecoming 2012.