President John Bravman with members of the Class of 2023
Photo: Emily Paine
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President John Bravman with members of the Class of 2023 who orchestrated the creation of a new gathering area in the Grove.
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Gather and Connect

Senior tribute encourages togetherness to boost student well-being
by Dave Block
The Class of 2023’s college experience was unlike anything they could have expected. When the pandemic struck during the students’ first year on campus, they needed to adapt to not only online learning but also virtual socializing. The experience enhanced their appreciation for in-person connectedness — and the outdoor spaces that enabled them to come together again.

With their senior tribute — a social gathering space within Bucknell’s Grove — the Class of 2023 wanted to honor its unique campus experience while also benefiting future generations of Bucknellians.

“It’s a serene, peaceful place on campus that we wanted to supplement by creating a spot where people could meet, do work and hang out,” says Class President Nabeel Jan ’23, who double-majored in English–film/media studies and international relations. “During the pandemic, a lot of classes were held outside to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We thought this would be a fitting tribute as a remembrance of how those spaces helped us and other classes.”

The octagonal space adjacent to the Gateway Residence Center was created by clearing a grass area and installing pressure-treated timber edging and pea gravel, says Brian Fritz, associate director of building maintenance & projects. River stones and boulders were placed outside the seating area, which features composite outdoor furniture consisting of a table, Adirondack chairs and lounge chairs. “Four timber posts with decorative black covers to match the nearby existing light poles were installed as a framework for overhead string lights,” Fritz says.

The senior class officers were interested in making a functional contribution to the campus along the lines of the powered pergola space added through the Class of 2022 tribute. “We were looking at areas on campus where there was a lack of outdoor space that can be utilized,” Jan says. “We looked at research on how being outside helps your mental health and well-being.”

The class officers provided their rationale, basic design inspiration and key concepts in their proposal to President John Bravman and his senior leadership team for approval.

“The Grove is a special place, and we hope that by adding this gathering space, students will cherish it even more,” says Vice President Andrew Finegan ’23, who majored in civil engineering. “During my time here, simply chatting with fellow classmates has produced some of my favorite memories, and I hope this space will do the same for future generations.”

Class Secretary/Treasurer Taylor Armstrong ’23, who studied economics and political science, says she is grateful to those who brought the students’ plan to life.

“The Bucknell facilities staff, as always, did an amazing job making our dream a reality — while offering some insightful suggestions along the way,” she says. “I am excited to return to campus in the years to come and remember all the hard work and dedication that the Class of 2023 Student Government members put into this tribute. Hopefully, its intended purpose of bringing our community even closer is fulfilled.”