From the President department heading
Illustration of John C. Bravman, President
Illustration: Joel Kimmel

Serving the Whole Student, Today and Tomorrow

The beginning of the fall semester has always been one of my favorite times of the academic year. There’s a special joy and sense of promise in seeing students so visibly happy to be together on campus, whether they’re returning or coming to Bucknell for the first time.
The thrill of welcoming the newest class of Bucknellians and the incredible energy they bring to our community never gets old for me, even after four decades in academia. Our youngest students embody our hopes and dreams — as individuals, as an institution and as a society. The Class of 2026, our largest incoming class yet, spent years working to get here, and they’re ready to make the most of the opportunity.

Bucknell put years of work into getting them here, too — the August arrival of the new class is the endpoint of a lengthy recruitment, application, admission and enrollment process. Our Admissions team begins communicating with prospective students as early as ninth grade to raise their awareness of Bucknell and help them discern whether we might be a good fit for their talents, interests and goals. Even as competition for students has increased among our peer institutions, we’ve been extremely successful, because we are strategic, forward-thinking and highly intentional about our future.

That mindset, which extends beyond admissions to include all areas of Bucknell, has always been the key to our success. Generations of faculty, staff, administrators and volunteers took great care to prepare the University to meet the needs of students not yet born — those we see on campus today. As the current stewards of a 176-year-old leader in the liberal arts, it’s up to us to ensure that Bucknell will be ready for the students of tomorrow.

That responsibility can seem daunting, but our current strategic plan, The Plan for Bucknell 2025, guides our efforts. Bucknell has recently renewed its commitment to achieving the plan’s ambitious goals, with a special focus on providing students with the best possible residential and living-learning experience.

We’re proud of the education and opportunities we offer students, both in and out of the classroom — but we want to do even more to ensure that we are an exceptional residential campus. That means making sure that we’re supporting the whole student — not just academically, but also physically, mentally and emotionally — starting when they enroll and continuing right up through Commencement.

Recent enhancements will help us meet that goal. For example, our pandemic experience underscored that outdoor recreation is extremely valuable for student well-being, so we’ve invested more in that area as well as athletics. Housing, too, is a focal point — we renovated Vedder Hall and Fran’s House; we are replacing the Mods with new apartment-style residences; and a new study of our facilities will help ensure our residence halls meet student needs. Our faculty and staff are making an extra effort to help students connect with their peers and University resources. And in response to the increasing national demand for student mental health services, we expanded our full-time counseling staff to 10. It’s all part of making sure students feel truly at home throughout their time on campus so that they are set up to succeed at Bucknell — and beyond.

There are many other examples of how we’re deepening our commitment to the 24/7 residential experience, and we’ll continue to seek even more ways to make sure we exceed the expectations of students and families. I look forward to continuing our work together as a community to serve today’s Bucknellians while preparing to welcome many classes to come.

Copy of John C. Bravman signature

John C. Bravman