Cartoon drawing of the Bison
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L’Agenda Yearbook from 1985.

Celebrate 100 Years of the Bison

For an entire century, Bucknellians have been rallying behind our mighty Bison. Prior to 1923, Bucknell student-athletes were sometimes called the wildcats … and sometimes the timber wolves. In 1910, William Bartol, Class of 1872, a former athlete and head of Bucknell’s mathematics department, pushed for a singular, consistent mascot the campus could get behind. (Leave it to a mathematician to bring order to our world.) Bartol suggested the bison because it was believed that American bison once populated our Central Pennsylvania area. Though lack of evidence now casts doubt on that belief, Bartol’s idea eventually took hold and was embraced by campus. In 1923, the Bison became the University’s official one-and-only mascot. We visited the University Archives to uncover a few artifacts documenting the early days of our beloved Bison.
Vintage photo of the school football team and coach
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Though there is no direct mention of the Bison, a football program from Nov. 1, 1930, (Bucknell vs. Penn State) alludes to the “Thundering Herd.”
Photos Courtesy of University Archives/Special Collections
Vintage Homecoming souvenir program cover
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A mighty bison charges a timid Lafayette leopard on the cover of the Oct. 22, 1932, football program.
1937-38 University student handbook
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Although initially associated with athletics, the Bison crosses over to the academic world when it appears on the 1937-38 University student handbook cover.
Old photo of a student posing in the first Bucky costume
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The Bison Club purchased the first Bucky costume in November 1948, captured in this 1951–52 L’Agenda photo.

Centenary Celebration

Dreary weather didn’t dampen the school spirit of alumni and family members who gathered to celebrate Homecoming & Family Weekend and the 100th anniversary of the Bison in September.