Bucknell University

Bucknell University is a private liberal arts college in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1846 as the University at Lewisburg, it now consists of the College of Arts and Sciences, Freeman College of Management, and the College of Engineering. It offers 65 majors and over 70 minors in the humanities, arts, mathematics, natural science, social sciences, engineering, management, as well as programs and pre-professional advising that prepare students for study in law and medicine. Located just south of Lewisburg, the 445-acre (1.80 km2) campus rises above the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.

Bucknell University
Bucknell University seal.svg
Latin: Universitas Bucnellensis
Former name
University at Lewisburg
TypePrivate liberal arts college
Established1846; 177 years ago (1846)[1]
Endowment$1.1 billion (2021)[2]
PresidentJohn C. Bravman[1]
Academic staff
Location, ,
United States

40°57′17″N 76°53′01″W / 40.95472°N 76.88361°W / 40.95472; -76.88361Coordinates: 40°57′17″N 76°53′01″W / 40.95472°N 76.88361°W / 40.95472; -76.88361
CampusRural, 450 acres (1.8 km2)[3]
ColorsBucknell blue and orange[4]
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division I, Patriot League, NCAA FCS[3]
MascotBucky the Bison[5]
Bucknell University logo.svg

Approximately 3,700 undergraduate students and 50 graduate students attend the university. Students hail from all fifty U.S. states and more than 66 countries;[6] it boasts nearly 200 student organizations and a sizable Greek life. The school is a member of the Patriot League in NCAA Division I athletics, and its mascot is the Bison.


Founding and early yearsEdit

Founded in 1846 as the University at Lewisburg, Bucknell traces its origin to a group of Baptists from White Deer Valley Baptist Church who deemed it "desirable that a Literary Institution should be established in Central Pennsylvania, embracing a High School for male pupils, another for females, a College and also a Theological Institution."[7]

The group's efforts for the institution began to crystallize in 1845, when Stephen William Taylor, a professor at Madison University (now Colgate University) in Hamilton, New York, was asked to prepare a charter and act as general agent for the development of the university. The charter for the University at Lewisburg, granted by the Pennsylvania General Assembly and approved by the governor on February 5, 1846, carried one stipulation–that $100,000 ($3,000,000 today) 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 ($4 today).

In 1846, the "school preparatory to the University" opened in the basement of the First Baptist Church in Lewisburg. Known originally as the Lewisburg High School, it became in 1848 the Academic and Primary Department of the University at Lewisburg.[8]

In 1850, the department moved into the first building completed on campus, now called Taylor Hall. Built for $8,000 ($260,000 today), the building housed both women's 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 on August 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.

Female InstituteEdit

Bucknell University in the 1870s

Although the Female Institute began instruction in 1852, it wasn't until 1883 that college courses were opened to women. Bucknell, though, was committed to equal educational opportunities for women.

This commitment was reflected in the words of David Jayne Hill of the Class of 1874, and president of the college 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."[9]

Within five years of opening, enrollment had grown so sharply that the college built a new hall–Larison Hall–to accommodate the Female Institute. Women could venture into town only in the company of a female teacher who had a minimum of six years' experience.

Benefactor William BucknellEdit

In 1881, facing dire financial circumstances, the college turned to William Bucknell, a charter member of the board of trustees, for help. His donation of $50,000 ($1,400,000 today) saved the college from ruin. In 1886, in recognition of Bucknell's support of the college, the trustees voted unanimously to change the name of the University at Lewisburg to Bucknell University.[10] Bucknell Hall, the first of several buildings given to the institution 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.[11]

Continued expansionEdit

Bertrand Library

The 40 years from 1890 until 1930 saw a steady increase in the number of faculty members and students. When the Depression brought a drop in enrollment in 1933, several members of the faculty were "loaned" to found a new institution: Bucknell Junior College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Today, that institution is a four-year university, Wilkes University, independent of Bucknell since 1947. The depression era also saw the commissioning by President Homer Rainey (1931–35) of architect Jens Larsen to design Bucknell's master plan. Subsequent expansion of the university still largely adheres to this plan.[12]

The post-War period saw a dramatic increase in higher education enrollment across the United States, thanks first to the G.I. Bill and then to the baby boom. Like other institutions, Bucknell's campus grew to accommodate a growing student body, and the college broke ground on many of the academic buildings that comprise upper campus. Chief among these is the Ellen Clarke Bertrand Library, commissioned in 1946 under Bucknell President and former Governor of Maine Horace Hildreth and opened in 1951.[13] Other major additions from the building spree of the 1950s and 60s include the Olin Science Building and Coleman, Marts, and Swartz Halls.

A growing reputation and changing expectations for undergraduate education in the United States called for improved facilities. The 1970s brought construction of the Elaine Langone Center, the Gerhard Fieldhouse, and the Computer Center. In the 1980s, the capacity of Bertrand Library was doubled, facilities for engineering were substantially renovated, and the Weis Center for the Performing Arts was inaugurated.

Heading into the 21st century, new facilities for the sciences included the renovation of the Olin Science Building, the construction of the Rooke Chemistry Building in 1990 and a new Biology Building in 1991. The Weis Music Building was inaugurated in 2000, the O'Leary Building for Psychology and Geology opened in the fall of 2002, the new Kenneth Langone Recreational Athletic Center opened in 2003, and the Breakiron Engineering Building in 2004.[14]

Academic East Building (2019)

Academic West opened in fall 2013. It added 70,000 sq ft (6,500 m2) of academic space and houses mostly social science departments: economics, geography, international relations, political science, sociology/anthropology, Critical Black Studies, Latin American Studies, and Environmental Studies and Sciences.[15] The South Campus Apartment Buildings and MacDonnell Commons were opened in 2015, providing upperclassmen with apartment-style housing that offers a more independent residential experience. In 2018, Hildreth-Mirza Hall became the home to Bucknell's Center for the Humanities, Bucknell University Press, and the Griot Institute for the Study of Black Lives and Culture. Academic East was inaugurated in 2019 to house the Department of Education and programs in the College of Engineering. A new building housing the Freeman College of Management and the Department of Art and Art History opened in 2020.


Cherry blossoms in April on the Academic Quad with Bertrand Library in the background.

Bucknell's 450-acre (180 ha) campus comprises more than 100 buildings that range over a gentle rise adjacent to the West Branch Susquehanna River. The campus is divided into Lower Campus and Upper Campus by Miller Run and the Grove, a stand of oak trees that ascends the slope. Lower campus consists primarily of student housing and the institution's sports facilities. Upper campus consists primarily of academic buildings. It offers views northwest across the Buffalo Valley toward Nittany Mountain and southeast across the Susquehanna River toward Montour Ridge.

Bucknell's campus forms a cohesive architectural ensemble due to the sustained use of brick and the recurrent themes of Georgian style. The institution's first building, Taylor Hall, was constructed in 1848.[16] Its newest building, Holmes Hall, was inaugurated in 2021.

The Kenneth Langone Athletics and Recreation Center was completed in 2003. It houses a state-of-the-art fitness center, Olympic-size swimming pool. The 4,000-seat Sojka Pavilion, named for former college president Gary Allan Sojka, is home to the men's and women's basketball teams.

Fall on the Engineering Quad

Designed in Georgian colonial style, the non-denominational Rooke Chapel is the setting for campus worship, weddings, and celebrations. Attached to the chapel is a one-story wing, which houses the Office of Religious Life, the Chaplain's office, a meditation chapel and kitchen. The chapel was dedicated on October 25, 1964. The chapel was a gift of the late Robert L. Rooke, an alumnus of the class of 1913 and a member of the institution's board of trustees. The chapel is named in memory of Mr. Rooke's parents. The main portion of the chapel includes the narthex, sanctuary, chancel area, organ chamber, choir rooms, and balconies that surround the sanctuary on three sides. Approximately 850 persons can be seated in the sanctuary and balconies.[17]

Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium is a 13,100-seat multi-purpose stadium in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Originally built in 1924, the stadium was renovated and renamed in honor of Mathewson in 1989. It is home to the Bucknell University Bison football team and the Lewisburg High School Green Dragons football team. It is named for Christy Mathewson, a Bucknell alumnus who went on to become a Hall of Fame pitcher for the New York Giants in the early 20th century.[18][19]


College of Arts & SciencesEdit

Late summer on Academic Quad seen from Bertrand Library

The College of Arts and Sciences anchors Bucknell University in the liberal arts tradition. Its three divisions—arts and humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences and mathematics—host 275 faculty members in 34 departments and 66% percent of all students enrolled in 50 majors.[citation needed] The College Core Curriculum ensures that students receive a broad based, liberal education. The college emphasizes intellectual community in diversity; transformative education for the common good; mentorship that encourages students to lead examined lives; and leading-edge research and scholarship.[20]

In 2021, the largest majors reported by graduates according to the categories supplied by the National Center for Education Statistics were: Accounting and Finance (79 graduates), Political Science and Government (76 graduates), Economics (67 graduates), Psychology (66 graduates), Biology/Biological Sciences (60 graduates).[21] In addition to coursework, students are encouraged to take advantage of undergraduate research opportunities available across the three colleges.

Fifty percent of Bucknell students study abroad. The institution sponsors semester-long program—known as the "Bucknell in" programs—in Accra, Athens, Tours, London, and Granada, as well as short-term programs in Barbados, Denmark, Nicaragua, South Africa, and other sites around the world. In addition, students have the opportunity to engage in direct exchanges with universities in Hong Kong, Accra, and Nottingham as well as hundreds of approved exchanges facilitated by third parties.[22]

College of EngineeringEdit

Dana Engineering Building

Among American colleges that do not offer a PhD in engineering, Bucknell ranks tied for 6th for 2020, according to U.S. News & World Report.[23] The same report ranked the Biomedical Engineering program 1st, the Civil Engineering program 2nd, the Computer program tied for 3rd, Electrical Engineering program 3rd, and the Mechanical Engineering program 4th.[23] Engineering facilities are concentrated in three buildings: Charles A. Dana Engineering Building, the adjoining Breakiron Engineering Building, and Academic East (which is shared with the Education Department).

Freeman College of ManagementEdit

Rather than traditional majors, students can choose from five tracks leading to the BSBA degree: managing for sustainability, markets innovation and design, global management, accounting & financial management or analytics & operations management. A five-year, dual degree in Engineering and Management is available for engineers with management career goals. In 2022, after just 4 years as an independent college, The Freeman College of Management was ranked 17th among undergraduate business schools.[24]

Centers and InstitutesEdit

The institution hosts a variety of centers and institutes committed to the promotion of research and scholarship among faculty and students.

The Bucknell Humanities Center opened in 2017 with the inauguration of Hildreth-Mirza Hall. The center is committed to the promoting and deepening Bucknell's tradition of humanistic inquiry through grants for student research, faculty-student collaboration, and teaching; faculty and student fellowships; the coordination and conviviality among humanities faculty and students through the Humanities Council and Humanities Student Council; and space to gather, reflect, study, and research including offices for student thesis writers, a digital humanities lab, and a faculty-donated library. It also coordinates robust programming ranging from faculty colloquia and guest speakers to the student-organized Humanities Week and annual themed programming on a variety of topics: "Surrealism" (2018–19), "Antifascism" (2019–20), "Floods" (2020–21), "Non/Humanity" (2021-22), and "Pandemics" (2022–23).[25]

Other centers and institutes include: the Bucknell Institute for Lifelong Learning, the Bucknell Institute for Public Policy, the Center for Social Science Research, the Center for the Study of Race Ethnicity and Gender, the China Institute, the Griot Institute for the Study of Black Lives and Cultures, and the Stadler Center for Poetry and Literary Arts.[26]

The Bucknell Center for Sustainability and the Environment (BSCE) and closely related Center for Place Studies encourage faculty, student, and staff research on the environment through long-term relationships with community partners throughout the region. It hosts the annual River Symposium in the fall focused on the art, culture, and ecology of the Susquehanna River basin as well as an annual Sustainability Symposium in the spring.

In April, 2013, Bucknell partnered with the Geisinger Health System, headquartered in nearby Danville to form the Geisinger-Bucknell Autism and Developmental Medicine Institute (ADMI). This facility combines clinical treatment and interdisciplinary research on neurodevelopmental disorders.[27]


Academic rankings
Liberal arts colleges
U.S. News & World Report[28]38
Washington Monthly[29]50
THE / WSJ[31]81

In the 2022 edition of U.S. News & World Report, Bucknell tied for 38th in the "National Liberal Arts Colleges" category.[32] The 2022 edition of the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education U.S. College Rankings placed Bucknell 81st among U.S. universities.[33] In 2021, Washington Monthly, which ranks colleges and universities based on perceived contribution to the public good as measured by social mobility, research, and promoting public service, ranked Bucknell 50th among liberal arts colleges.[34] In 2021, Forbes rated Bucknell 88th in its list of 650 "America's Top Colleges".[35]

Bucknell is ranked 45th among all colleges and universities and 12th among liberal arts colleges on Payscale's 2020 "College Salary Report.".[36][37]

Bucknell has been called one of the "Hidden Ivies," an institution reputed to provide an education comparable to that of Ivy League institutions.[38]

Undergraduate admissionsEdit

U.S. News & World Report classifies Bucknell's selectivity as "more selective."[23] For the Class of 2024 (enrolled fall 2020), Bucknell received 9,890 applications and accepted 3,712 (37.5%), with 986 enrolling.[39] The middle 50% range of SAT scores for the enrolled freshmen was 620–700 for reading and writing, and 630–730 for math, while the ACT Composite range was 29–32.[39] The average high school grade point average (GPA) of enrolled freshmen was 3.61.[39]

Traditions and symbolsEdit

On April 17, 1849, the trustees approved the current Bucknell seal. The seal shows the sun, an open book, and waves. The sun symbolizes the light of knowledge while the book represents education surmounting the storms and "waves" of life.[40] Bucknell's colors are orange and blue, being approved by a committee of students in 1887.[41] The bison is the current mascot of Bucknell University. In 1923, Dr. William Bartol suggested the animal due to Bucknell's location in the Buffalo Valley.[42]


Mike Muscala one of Bucknell's most notable athlete alumni

Bucknell is a member of the Patriot League for Division I sports, (Division I FCS in football). Bucknell's traditional opponents include Lafayette College, Holy Cross, Lehigh University, Colgate University, and American University.

The Bucknell football team won the first Orange Bowl 26–0, over the Miami Hurricanes on January 1, 1935. Bucknell won the first Division II NCAA swimming and diving championships in 1964. 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, upsetting Kansas (64–63). The victory followed a year that included wins over #7 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.[43]

Student lifeEdit

All undergraduate students except 200 seniors are required to live on campus. Bucknell guarantees on-campus housing for all four years.[44]

The campus is roughly divided into "uphill" and "downhill" areas by a large slope between Moore Avenue and Dent Drive. The uphill area flanks U.S. Route 15 and the West Branch Susquehanna River and features many of the academic buildings, including the main academic quadrangle, the observatory, and library as well as some dormitories, Christy Mathewson–Memorial Stadium, and Fraternity Road. Downhill borders the Victorian-era neighborhoods of downtown Lewisburg and features mainly residential buildings, including the majority of first-year dormitories, the Gateway apartment complex, the President's house, many of the indoor athletic facilities, and Hunt Hall, home to the institution's sororities. Bucknell West, which is separated from the rest of campus by Route 15, features some housing, athletic fields, art and psychology/animal behavior laboratories, and an 18-hole golf course.

All on-campus students must purchase a campus meal plan.[45] There are several dining options on campus for students, including the Bostwick Cafeteria, Bison snack bar, and Terrace Room in the Langone Student Center, and the Library and 7th Street Cafe. In spring 2012, Bucknell inaugurated its first food truck, the Flying Bison.[46] The menu includes lunch items and a special late night (Midnight – 3:00 a.m.) menu.[47]

Bucknell has more than 150 student organizations,[48] a historical downtown movie theater, many student performances, and year-end "Chrysalis" ball provide students with a wide array of activities. Downtown Lewisburg is a short walking distance from the campus and features a variety of shops, museums, galleries, and restaurants in addition to old-fashioned gingerbread houses.

Spratt House is the home of the institution's Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program.

Bucknell's student newspaper, The Bucknellian, is printed weekly. Its radio station is WVBU-FM.

Bucknell has active religious life involvement on campus. Groups such as Bucknell University Catholic Campus Ministry, Rooke Chapel Congregation, Muslim Students' Association, and Hillel are available to students for spiritual and personal growth.

Bucknell has active Greek life. Students cannot "rush" until the first semester of their sophomore year, but approximately 50 percent of eligible students join the school's 7 fraternities and 9 sororities.


Alumni of Bucknell University include American billionaire businessman, investor, and philanthropist best known for organizing financing for the founders of The Home Depot Ken Langone (class of 1957), novelist Philip Roth (class of 1954), actors Ralph Waite (1952) and Edward Herrmann (1965), CBS Television CEO Leslie Moonves (1971), Children's Place and Lord & Taylor CEO Jane T. Elfers (1983), longtime New Jersey congressman Rob Andrews (1979), and 2016 Pulitzer Prize winner for Poetry, Peter Balakian (1973). Notable Bucknell University attendees include National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Christy Mathewson. Oklahoma City Thunder Center Mike Muscala. New York Times Best Selling Author and Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in NY Tim Keller.[55] Burma's first physician Shaw Loo graduated there and became Bucknell University's first international student.[56]


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  40. ^ "University Seal". Bucknell University. Archived from the original on July 30, 2012.
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Further readingEdit

External linksEdit