Bucknell University

Bucknell University
Bucknell University seal.svg
Latin: Universitas Bucnellensis
Former name
University at Lewisburg
TypePrivate liberal arts university
Established1846; 176 years ago (1846)[1]
Endowment$844.8 million (2020)[2]
PresidentJohn C. Bravman[1]
Academic staff
Location, ,
United States

40°57′18″N 76°52′59″W / 40.955°N 76.883°W / 40.955; -76.883Coordinates: 40°57′18″N 76°52′59″W / 40.955°N 76.883°W / 40.955; -76.883
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

Bucknell University is a private liberal arts college in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. The university consists of the College of Arts and Sciences, Freeman College of Management, and the College of Engineering. Bucknell was founded in 1846, and features programs in the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences, engineering, management, education, and music, as well as programs and pre-professional advising that prepare students for study in law and medicine. It offers nearly 50 majors and over 60 minors. South of central Lewisburg, the 445-acre (1.80 km2) campus is along the west bank of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, at an elevation of 530 feet (160 m) above sea level.

Primarily an undergraduate school (with about 3,600 students), Bucknell has about 50 graduate students. Students come from all fifty U.S. states and from more than 66 countries;[6] it has nearly 200 student organizations and a large Greek presence. The school's mascot is Bucky the Bison and the school is a member of the Patriot League in NCAA Division I athletics.


Founding and early years[edit]

Founded in 1846 as the University at Lewisburg, Bucknell traces its origination 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 ($2,900,000 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 ($3 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 ($250,000 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 Institute[edit]

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 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."[9]

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 who had a minimum of six years' experience in handling girls.

Benefactor William Bucknell[edit]

In 1881, facing dire financial circumstances, the university turned to William Bucknell, a charter member of the board of trustees, for help. His donation of $50,000 ($1,340,000 today) saved the university from ruin. In 1886, in recognition of Bucknell's support of the school, 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 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.[11]

Continued expansion[edit]

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 university enrollments 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 university 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. The 1970s brought construction of the Elaine Langone Center, the Gerhard Fieldhouse, and the Computer Center, while in the 1980s, the capacity of the 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 the completion of a new Biology Building in 1991. The McDonnell Residence Hall and Weis Music Building were inaugurated in 2000, 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 newest engineering facility, the Breakiron Engineering Building, opened in 2004.[14]

Academic East Building (2019)

Academic West opened in fall 2013. It added 70,000 square feet (6,500 m2) of academic space; 16,200 square feet (1,510 m2) of which are classroom and hearth spaces. Academic West houses the departments of economics, geography, international relations, political science, sociology/anthropology, and the Latin American Studies and Environmental Studies Programs.[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 opened as 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. It houses the Department of Education and programs in the College of Engineering. A new building that will house the Freeman College of Management and the Department of Art and Art History is currently under construction.


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 university'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 university's first building, Taylor Hall, was constructed in 1848.[16] It currently houses the Freeman School of Management.[17] Its newest, building, Academic East, was inaugurated in 2019.

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 university president Dr. 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 university'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.[18]

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.[19][20]


College of Arts & Sciences[edit]

Late summer on Academic Quad seen from Bertrand Library

Bucknell offers 44 majors and 70 minors.[21] The college comprises the three traditional liberal arts divisions: humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences and mathematics with over 275 faculty members in 31 departments.[citation needed] Undergraduate research opportunities are available to students in all of the disciplines taught on campus. The overall curriculum of the college is the College Core Curriculum.[22]

The Bucknell Environmental Center (BUEC) 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. In April, 2013, Bucknell partnered with nearby Geisinger Health System to create the Geisinger-Bucknell Autism and Developmental Medicine Institute (ADMI). This facility combines clinical treatment and interdisciplinary research on neurodevelopmental disorders. Bucknell received a Solar Scholars grant and is building an experimental student housing unit that will rely primarily on renewable energy, including photovoltaics.

Forty-five percent of Bucknell students study abroad.[23] The university sponsors semester-long programs in multiple locations.

College of Engineering[edit]

Dana Engineering Building

Among American schools that do not offer a Ph.D. in engineering, Bucknell ranks tied for 6th for 2020, according to U.S. News & World Report.[24] 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.[24]

There are two main engineering buildings on the Bucknell University campus. The two buildings are the Charles A. Dana Engineering Building and the Breakiron Engineering Building. Referred to by most students and faculty solely as "Dana" the Charles A. Dana Engineering Building was built in 1940 and expanded in 1985, while the fairly new Breakiron Engineering Building was built in 2003.

Freeman College of Management[edit]

Students can choose from five tracks, leading to the B.S.B.A. 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. Bucknell ranks first among 213 baccalaureate liberal arts colleges for graduates who have earned Ph.D.s in Business and Management.[25]


Academic rankings
Liberal arts colleges
U.S. News & World Report[26] 34
Washington Monthly[27] 43
Forbes[28] 73
THE/WSJ[29] 77

In the 2021 edition of U.S. News & World Report, Bucknell tied for 34th in the "National Liberal Arts Colleges" category and 42nd "Most Innovative".[24] The 2021 edition of the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education U.S. College Rankings placed Bucknell 77th among U.S. universities and 27th among U.S. liberal arts colleges.[30] In 2020,Washington Monthly, which ranks colleges based on perceived contribution to the public good as measured by social mobility, research, and promoting public service, ranked Bucknell 43rd among liberal arts colleges.[31] In 2019, Forbes rated Bucknell 73rd in its list of 650 "America's Top Colleges" and 31st among "Liberal Arts Universities."[32]

In 2020, The Princeton Review ranked Bucknell University as the eighth largest party school in the United States. This rating was not determined by the size of the student body, but by research on alcohol and drug use among Bucknell University's students, as well as the number of hours they spent studying outside of class. Party schools entail high rates of alcohol and drug use in addition to low levels of studying.[33]

Bucknell is ranked 45th among all universities and 12th among liberal arts colleges on Payscale's 2020 "College Salary Report.".[34][35]

Bucknell has been called one of the "Hidden Ivies," an institution reputed to provide an education comparable to that of Ivy League institutions.[36]


U.S. News & World Report classifies Bucknell's selectivity as "more selective."[24] For the Class of 2024 (enrolled fall 2020), Bucknell received 9,890 applications and accepted 3,712 (37.5%), with 986 enrolling.[37] 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.[37] The average high school grade point average (GPA) of enrolled freshmen was 3.61.[37]

Traditions and symbols[edit]

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.[38] Bucknell's colors are orange and blue, being approved by a committee of students in 1887.[39] 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.[40]

Hundreds of students frolic at the weekly downtown "Super" Saturday day parties, where fraternities provide free beer.[41]


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.[42]

Student life[edit]

All undergraduates except 200 seniors are required to live on campus. The school guarantees on-campus housing for all four years.[43]

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 school'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.[44] 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 unveiled their first food truck, the Flying Bison.[45] The menu includes lunch items and a special late night (Midnight – 3:00 a.m.) menu.[46]

Bucknell has more than 150 student organizations,[47] 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 university'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 6 fraternities and 10 sororities.


Alumni of Bucknell University include novelist Philip Roth (class of 1954), actors Ralph Waite (1952) and Edward Herrmann (1965), disgraced 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.[50]

Popular culture[edit]

Bucknell University is depicted in the Will Ferrell/Amy Poehler movie The House.

In 2006, the university invited notorious rapper Kanye West to perform for the student body. West arrived an hour or two late to the scheduled performance. Upon entering the stage, the students booed him. The following year, West dropped his studio album titled Graduation. In it, he references his experience at Bucknell University on the track "Stronger", calling the event "fake shit" because the vast majority of the students are white, wealthy Americans.[51][52]


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  2. ^ As of June 30, 2020. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20 (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. February 19, 2021. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Bucknell Facts 2018–19" (PDF). Bucknell University. Bucknell University Division of Communications. December 2018. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  4. ^ "Direction, Defined. Our Brand Guidelines" (PDF). Bucknell University. Bucknell University Division of Communications. August 2017. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  5. ^ "History and Traditions". Bucknell University. Bucknell University. n.d. Archived from the original on 4 January 2019. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  6. ^ "About Bucknell". Bucknell University. Archived from the original on March 14, 2012.
  7. ^ The University's Founding Bucknell University.
  8. ^ The Early Years Bucknell University.
  9. ^ The Female Institute Bucknell University.
  10. ^ Brackney, William H. (2008). Congregation and Campus: North American Baptists in Higher Education (1 ed.). Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press. p. 206. ISBN 978-0-88146-130-5. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  11. ^ "Milestones – Benefactor William Bucknell". Bucknell University.
  12. ^ Bonan, Tom. "From the Special Collections/University Archives: Jens Larsen, Bucknell University's Architect". Bucknell University. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  13. ^ Stodart, Haley. "From the Special Collections/University Archives: Who is Ellen Clark Bertrand?". Bucknell University. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  14. ^ [1] "Continued Expansion Bucknell University."
  15. ^ Hughes, Matt. "Academic West opens its doors". Bucknell University. Retrieved September 20, 2013.
  16. ^ "The Bucknell Campus" University website. Retrieved January 1, 2016
  17. ^ "School of Management official website". Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 20, 2013.
  18. ^ Charles M. and Olive S. Rooke Chapel Bucknell University.
  19. ^ Christy Mathewson Historic Baseball. Retrieved January 1, 2016
  20. ^ "Christy Mathewson Stats" Baseball Almanac. Retrieved January 1, 2016
  21. ^ "Majors and Minors". Bucknell University. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  22. ^ "About the College of Arts & Sciences". Bucknell University.
  23. ^ "Global & Off-campus Education". Bucknell University. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  24. ^ a b c d "Bucknell University Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  25. ^ "Management". Bucknell University. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011.
  26. ^ "Best Colleges 2021: National Liberal Arts Colleges". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  27. ^ "2021 Liberal Arts Rankings". Washington Monthly. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  28. ^ "America's Top Colleges 2021". Forbes. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  29. ^ "Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings 2021". The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education. Retrieved October 20, 2020.
  30. ^ "Best Liberal Arts Colleges in the United States 2021". Times Higher Education/ Wall Street Journal. 25 September 2020.
  31. ^ "2020 Liberal Arts College Ranking". Washington Monthly. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  32. ^ "America's Top Colleges 2019". Forbes. August 15, 2019.
  33. ^ "Party Schools | The Princeton Review". www.princetonreview.com. Retrieved 2021-03-18.
  34. ^ "College Salary Report: Best Universities for a Bachelors Degree". Payscale.com. September 2020.
  35. ^ "College Salary Report: Best Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential". Payscale.com. September 2020.
  36. ^ "Ivy League and Similar" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-05-19. Retrieved January 16, 2016.
  37. ^ a b c "Fast Facts". Bucknell University.
  38. ^ "University Seal". Bucknell University. Archived from the original on July 30, 2012.
  39. ^ "University Colors". Bucknell University. Archived from the original on July 30, 2012.
  40. ^ "University Mascot". Bucknell University. Archived from the original on July 30, 2012.
  41. ^ Johansson, Paulina (2018-03-30). "Super Saturday, super trash". The Bucknellian. Retrieved 2021-03-18.
  42. ^ "2015 ESPYS – Past Award Winners". espn.com/espys. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  43. ^ "Off-Campus Living". Bucknell University. Retrieved 2020-12-10.
  44. ^ "Meal Plans & Dining Options". Bucknell University. Retrieved 2020-12-10.
  45. ^ Ayers, Amanda (April 22, 2012). "Flying Bison soars to campus". The Bucknellian. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  46. ^ "The Flying Bison". Bucknell University. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 20, 2013.
  47. ^ "- Get INvolved @ Bucknell". getinvolved.bucknell.edu. Retrieved 2020-12-10.
  48. ^ Fraternity Chapters at Bucknell Bucknell University. Retrieved January 11, 2022
  49. ^ Sorority Chapters at Bucknell Bucknell University. Retrieved July 11, 2018
  50. ^ "Jane T. Elfers: Executive Profile & Biography - Bloomberg". www.bloomberg.com.
  51. ^ "Study: Bucknell enrolled more students from the top 1% than the bottom 60%". WITF. 2017-01-26. Retrieved 2021-03-18.
  52. ^ "Genius | Song Lyrics & Knowledge". Genius. Retrieved 2021-03-18.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]