From the President department heading
Illustration of John C. Bravman, President
Illustration: Joel Kimmel
Bucknell, the Arts-rich Cultural Hub

Some think of Bucknell as being about three hours from New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. I prefer to think of those cities as being three hours from Bucknell. Without the fuss of gridlock traffic, here you can sample renowned performers and literary giants, from Toni Morrison to Judy Collins, as well as original, diverse artists such as the Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq and the Lakota Sioux Dance Co. At Bucknell you also can hear the art conservator Dianne Modestini talk about restoring the world’s most expensive painting — Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi.

Our fully restored Campus Theatre — one of the few remaining single-screen art deco theatres in the country — presents visitors with a diverse mix of popular, art and independent films. Just across Market Street in downtown Lewisburg, our Samek Museum’s Downtown Gallery promotes encounters with art to the community and visitors alike.


To claim that the Bucknell campus — and its extensions into downtown Lewisburg — comprises a concentrated intellectual, cultural and artistic hub for our region is not hyperbole, for we not only show Oscar-nominated movies, but we bring you the winning directors, as we did last spring when Moonlight’s Barry Jenkins led off the Diversity Summit. This spring, our Martin Luther King Jr. Week featured a dialogue between two leading public intellectuals of the left and right — Cornel West and Robert George.

Many of the notable performers who appear at Bucknell — from the late trumpeter Hugh Masekela to comedian Paula Poundstone — share their talents on the main stage of our beautiful Weis Center for the Performing Arts, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. (Itzhak Perlman was the inaugural performer in 1988!)

It’s no wonder that this striking venue is ranked among the country’s top 10 college and university performing arts centers. Last year, the Weis Center drew 12,300 patrons, about 8,000 of which were non-Bucknell-affiliated community members, primarily from Union and five other counties. Increasingly, retirement communities, schools, local universities, churches and special interest groups, such as dance schools, are making the Weis Center a destination.

While the Weis Center has been an educational and cultural resource for three decades, our Weis Fellow in Contemporary Letters award has been recognizing outstanding poets, novelists and nonfiction writers for more than 15 years. Honorees from David McCullough to Edward Albee to Rita Dove have engaged with audiences on campus. And earlier this month, for the first time, we awarded the fellowship to one of our own, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Peter Balakian ’73, P’10.

Just five days later documentary filmmaker extraordinaire Ken Burns filled the Weis Center, just as Jane Goodall, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Anderson Cooper did in recent years. They, like Burns, came here via the Bucknell Forum Speaker Series, which is now beginning its second decade.

I had the distinct honor of moderating a discussion with Burns, but as president, I have another privilege. Recently, a small group of art students visited the President’s House to look over the art and photography that helps beautify the home — 50 works from our Samek Museum’s 6,000-piece collection. I look forward to learning from these students as they recommend rotating some pieces out and others in.

I am proud that Bucknell offers a cultural, intellectual and artistic richness to our community. Providing our region an impressive array of quality speakers, artists and performers of all types is a very special part of who we are.

Copy of John C. Bravman signature

John C. Bravman