From the President department heading
Illustration of John C. Bravman, President
Illustration: Joel Kimmel
Ever and Always, for the Students
Commencement is an emotional event each year — for the members of the graduating class and their families, for our faculty and staff, and, yes, for me as president. As our seniors cross over from student to graduate and prepare to leave this special place they have called home for four years, the same exuberant but bittersweet sensation grips me anew each and every time.

Yet after all of the names are called, speeches delivered and mortarboards tossed to the sky, I see the joy and optimism in our newest graduates’ faces, and I am reminded of why one dedicates his or her life to academia: faith in our future — faith in our students, for whom, ultimately, Bucknell exists.

It’s been my constant refrain since my arrival here in 2010 with my wife, engineering professor Wendelin Wright, and our then-10-week-old son, who has just this spring experienced his own graduation of sorts — into third grade. Our youngest boy is now a kindergarten alumnus. Since I arrived here, a lot has changed in my life and in the life of our University.

These last eight years have been dedicated to building a better Bucknell, for today and tomorrow. We’ve significantly expanded and invested in our people and academic programs. We’ve launched our third college, the Freeman College of Management, and constructed new homes for the social sciences (Academic West) and our new Humanities Center (Hildreth-Mirza Hall) befitting the grand and important work happening within their walls. We’ll soon be able to say the same for engineering and education, when Academic East opens in summer 2019. We’ve helped ensure a vibrant future by completing our most successful capital campaign, raising $513 million. These significant advancements have been made for one overarching purpose: strengthening the student experience, ensuring their path through Bucknell prepares them for a lifetime of success.

In 2014 — and many times since — I have talked with the campus community about the state of higher education and articulated five mindsets we must hold to ensure sustainability for our University. Bucknell must be:

  • Forward Looking
  • Data Informed
  • Highly Intentional
  • Prudently Bold
  • Student Centered

Everything we do here at Bucknell must be informed by these five attitudes. But the final two-word phrase is the most important. We can’t lose sight of the centrality of students, especially at an institution dedicated to undergraduate learning.

During the last academic year, we’ve begun setting the stage for the next act in the life of our institution, as we prepare to reinvigorate our strategic plan, the Plan for Bucknell. We began with a series of open forums throughout the year that explored several key functional areas that this plan will touch: development and alumni relations, admissions and enrollment management, finance, campus life, and academic affairs.

Throughout, our presenters never lost sight of our guiding principles. And for as long as I am your president, we never will.

I serve Bucknell at the pleasure of the Board of Trustees. I’m happy to report that at the board’s April meeting we agreed to an extension of my time as Bucknell’s president until 2025. I am grateful and honored that the trustees have made it possible for me to spend the next seven years continuing to partner with our extraordinary faculty and staff in service of our shared mission to build for Bucknell’s future, ever and always for our students.

Copy of John C. Bravman signature

John C. Bravman