Bucknell University is a private university located along the West Branch Susquehanna River in the rolling countryside of Central Pennsylvania in the town of Lewisburg, 60 miles (97 km) north of Harrisburg. The university consists of the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering.
Bucknell was founded in 1846 and features programs in engineering, management, education, and music, as well as nationally ranked programs and pre-professional advising that prepare students for success in law and medicine. Bucknell is among the top 20 U.S. liberal arts colleges in the number of graduates who go on to earn doctorates. It has over 50 majors and 60 minors. Although it is primarily an undergraduate school (with 3,400 students), there are also 150 graduate students on the campus. Students come from all 50 states and from more than 50 countries. Bucknell has nearly 200 student organizations, a large Greek presence, and is part of the Patriot League in Division I athletics.
The group’s efforts for the institution began to crystallize in 1845 when Stephen William Taylor, a professor at Madison University (now Colgate) in Hamilton, N.Y., was asked to prepare a charter and act as general agent for the university’s development.
The charter for the University at Lewisburg, granted by the Legislature of Pennsylvania and approved by the governor on Feb. 5, 1846, carried one stipulation – that $100,000 be raised before the new institution would be granted full corporate status. More than 4,000 subscribers ultimately contributed, including a small boy who gave 12 cents.
In 1850, the department moved into the first building completed on campus, now called Taylor Hall. Built for $8,000, the building housed both women and men’s studies until the opening of the Female Institute in 1852. While studying together, women were required to face east while men faced west.
The school’s first commencement was held Aug. 20, 1851, for a graduation class of seven men. Among the board members attending was James Buchanan, who would become the 15th President of the United States. Stephen Taylor officiated as his last act before assuming office as president of Madison University. One day earlier, the trustees had elected Howard Malcom as the first president of the university, a post he held for six years.
The description that the university was carved out of the "wilds of Pennsylvania" is no exaggeration. From Philadelphia, the journey in those early years involved traveling by stagecoach, canal boat, and unheated train and averaged 25 hours.
A striking instance of this commitment occurs in the words of David Jayne Hill of the Class of 1874 and president of the university from 1879 to 1888: "We need in Pennsylvania, in the geographical centre of the state, a University, not in the German but in the American sense, where every branch of non-professional knowledge can be pursued, regardless of distinction of sex. I have no well-matured plan to announce as to the sexes; but the Principal of the Female Seminary proposes to inaugurate a course for females equal to that pursued at Vassar; the two sexes having equal advantages, though not reciting together."
Within five years of opening, enrollment had grown so sharply that the university built a new hall – Larison Hall – to accommodate the Female Institute. Women could venture into town only in the company of a female teacher, one who had a minimum of six years’ experience in handling girls.
Bucknell Hall, the first of several buildings given to the university by Bucknell, was initially a chapel and for more than a half century the site of student theatrical and musical performances. Today, it houses the Stadler Center for Poetry.
Significant new construction in the 1970s included the Elaine Langone Center, the Gerhard Fieldhouse, and the Computer Center. During the early 1980s, the capacity of the Bertrand Library was doubled and facilities for engineering were substantially renovated. In 1988, the Weis Center for the Performing Arts was completed.
New facilities for the sciences included the renovation of the Olin Science Building, the construction of the Rooke Chemistry Building in 1990 and the completion of a new Biology Building in 1991. The McDonnell Residence Hall and Weis Music Building were completed in 2000. In addition, the O'Leary Building for Psychology and Geology opened in the fall of 2002 and the new Kenneth Langone Recreational Athletic Center opened during the 2002-03 academic year.
The most recent facility, the Breakiron Engineering Building, opened in 2004. Today, more than 100 buildings dot the campus.
The university reported having $600 million in investments in its endowment portfolio in 2007.
|Stephen William Taylor||1846 - 1851 *|
|Howard Malcom||1851 - 1857|
|George Ripley Bliss||1857 - 1858; 1871 - 1872 *|
|Justin Rolph Loomis||1858 - 1879|
|Francis Wayland Tustin||1879 *|
|David Jayne Hill||1879 - 1888|
|George G. Groff||1888 - 1889 *|
|John Howard Harris||1889 - 1919|
|Emory William Hunt||1919 - 1931|
|Charles Parker Vaughan||1931 *|
|Homer Price Rainey||1931 - 1935|
|Arnaud Cartwright Marts||1935 - 1945 **|
|Herbert Lincoln Spencer||1945 - 1949|
|Horace Augustus Hildreth||1949 - 1953|
|Joseph Welles Henderson||1953 - 1954 *|
|Merle Middleton Odgers||1954 - 1964|
|Charles Henry Watts II||1964 - 1976|
|George Dennis O'Brien||1976 - 1984|
|John Frederick Zeller III||1984 *|
|Gary Allan Sojka||1984 - 1995|
|William Drea Adams||1995 - 2000|
|Steffen H. Rogers||2000 - 2004|
|Brian C. Mitchell||2004 - present|
* - Interim President
** - Acted as interim president from 1935 to 1938
Primarily an undergraduate institution, Bucknell offers 53 majors and 64 minors. Majors include mathematics, environmental studies, geology, environmental geology, East Asian studies, management, biology, chemistry, education, music education, music performance, art history, English, animal behavior, Caribbean studies, economics, philosophy, theatre, and various foreign languages. Students can also design their own majors. The school's College of Engineering (with majors in electrical, chemical, computer science, mechanical, civil, and recently established bio-medical and computer engineering) is particularly strong. Among American schools that do not offer a Ph.D. in engineering, Bucknell ranks No. 7. The Chemical Engineering Program ranks No. 4 and the Civil Engineering Program ranks No. 3 under the same criteria.
Bucknell is also strong in environmental studies, animal behavior, ecology and evolution. Because Bucknell is larger than many other liberal arts colleges, a wide diversity of courses can be offered in these fields, including, for example, entomology, limnology, mammalogy, invertebrate zoology, ornithology, tropical ecology, ecosystem and community ecology, conservation biology, and social insect courses. Faculty research in these areas is active, with many opportunities for student participation, field work, and travel.
The Bucknell Environmental Center (BUEC) recently sponsored a symposium series on sustainability and the global environment and has major initiatives focused on the art, culture, and ecology of the Susquehanna River basin and the greening of the Bucknell Campus. Bucknell has recently received a Solar Scholars grant, and is building an experimental student housing unit that will rely primarily on renewable energy, including photovoltaics.
Bucknell has strong programs in Theatre, Dance and Music, where students work closely with experienced professionals. State-of-the-art performance and practice facilities, including the Weis Center for the Performing Arts, enhance the undergraduate performing arts experience.
Bucknell ranks among the top twenty liberal arts colleges in the number of students that go on to gain their Ph.D's, and is No. 3 on the All-Time List (CoSida) for Producing Academic All Americans. It also ranks in the Top 100 for schools that produce America's top business leaders.
Forty percent of Bucknell students study abroad. The University sponsors semester-long programs in four locations: London, Barbados, Tours, France, and Granada, Spain, all of which are staffed by Bucknell professors. Students can also choose to study in a variety of other countries through alternative providers.
Bucknell won the first Orange Bowl (26-0 over the University of Miami on January 1, 1935). It is also the alma mater of baseball pitcher Christy Mathewson who requested burial in a cemetery adjoining Bucknell's campus.
In 2005, the men's basketball team went to the NCAA men's basketball tournament and became the first Patriot League team to win an NCAA tournament game, in a surprising and intense upset of Kansas (64-63). The victory followed a year that included wins over #9 Pittsburgh and Saint Joseph's. They lost to Wisconsin in the following round, but received the honor of "Best Upset" at the 2005 ESPY Awards. In 2006, the Bison continued their success with high-profile victories at Syracuse, then ranked 19th, DePaul, and Saint Joseph's, a sequence that saw the Bison nearly enter the Associated Press's top-25 rankings. However, those wins were followed by high-profile losses against Villanova, then ranked fourth in the nation, and at Duke, then ranked first. Patriot League play began after the Duke loss, and the Bison did not lose a league game in 2006. The team was ranked 24th in the nation in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today college basketball polls for the week of February 13. This was the Bucknell program's first national ranking, and the first time since the league's creation in 1990 that any Patriot League men's basketball team has been ranked. The team was seeded ninth in the Oakland bracket for the 2006 NCAA tournament, and defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks in the first round (59-55). The Bison were defeated by Memphis in the second round, losing by a score of 72-56. They finished the regular season ranked 25th in the ESPN poll. Entering the 2006-2007 season, the Bison had scheduled a number of high-profile games, including a season opener against Wake Forest. The schedule also included a match up against George Mason, a team that had made the 2006 Final Four. In a tight game, the Bison were defeated by Wake Forest 86-83 in overtime. They did, however, go on to defeat George Mason. Bucknell made it to the 2007 Patriot League Championship Game where they faced Holy Cross. The Bison lost by a score of 66-74.
In 2006 the Bucknell Men's soccer team went on a surprise run to capture the Patriot League championship. In the semifinal they beat top seeded Lehigh in a game that went to a shootout. Then in the final they defeated Lehigh in a game that also ended in a shootout. This qualified them for the NCAA Soccer tournament. They faced George Mason in the first round and won on an overtime goal. In the second round they fell to fourth ranked Virginia.
In 2006 the Bucknell Women's rowing team won the Patriot League Championship and its Lightweight Women scored a 6th place finish at the National Championship IRA Regatta. The following year the team repeated as Patriot League team champions, and the lightweight eight was crowned national champions at the IRA for the first time.
In 2003, Bucknell made history by becoming the only school in Patriot League history to capture both the Men's and Women's Patriot League Swimming Championship in the same season (2003). These teams were led by seniors Gonzalo Diaz, Christopher Feinthel, Michael Guskey, Geoffrey Konopka, Kurt "Russell" McCoy, Stelios Saffos and Stephen Schwanhausser on the Men's team and seniors Rebecca Dolan and Darby Golino on the Women's team. This historic win was accomplished at the newly opened Kinney Natatorium at Bucknell. The men's swimming and diving team also captured the Division II national championship in 1964.
Bucknell also has a reputable men's lacrosse program that is often nationally-ranked. The team reached the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship in 2001. Former head coach Sid Jamieson is currently ranked 14th in all-time Division I wins.
Beginning in the 2006-2007 season, Bucknell has re-instituted its men's wrestling program, after it was originally dropped by the university in efforts to be in compliance with Title IX. In 2008, the Bucknell baseball team entered the Tallahassee regional of the NCAA tournament and upset the Florida State Seminoles, 7-0.
Because of its rural location and lack of nearby large cities (Harrisburg, PA is located about one hour south), Bucknell may seem fairly isolated. However, its more than 130 student organizations, a historical downtown movie theater, many student performances and year-end formal ball provide students with a wide array of activities. Downtown Lewisburg is within short walking distance of the campus and features a variety of shops, museums, galleries and restaurants in addition to old-fashioned gingerbread homes.
Bucknell has active religious life involvement on campus. Groups such as Bucknell University Catholic Campus Ministry, Rooke Chapel Congregation, and Hillel are available to students for spiritual and personal growth.
Many attribute the origin of paddle-less beer pong or beirut to Bucknell University.
The university also has a lively Greek community. Students cannot rush until the first semester of their sophomore year, but approximately 50 percent of eligible students join the school's 13 fraternities and 6 sororities.