Q&A with President Bravman

Bucknellian-President Bravman Homecoming Q&A

Jen Lassen

News Editor

News Editor Jen Lassen ’15 sat down with President John Bravman to discuss the “We Do” campaign that will launch this Homecoming Weekend. A first in University history, the campaign is ultimately about the learning that goes on at the University between students and faculty.

Besides raising money, what is the main goal of the “We Do” campaign?

“Campaigns have many goals. One, of course, is to increase the resource base of the University, but it’s also to build a large and sustainable network of alumni and volunteers that will be engaged in this campaign. At a place like Bucknell, it’s a place for students; we’re a student-centric undergraduate institution. To enable that, we also need this group of alumni to be engaged like never before.”

How much planning has gone into this campaign, and when did the planning commence?

“It has been about 10 to 12 months of very active planning. The University has talked about it before I got here; the campaign was announced in 2007 but delayed by the economic downturn and delayed again by presidential transition. So the campaign has been talked about for a while, but what it’s become has been a very intensive project over the last year. We actually did in 10-12 months what might typically be done in 18 months, but I strongly felt that we couldn’t wait anymore.”

What long-term effects do you foresee for this campaign?

“Long-term effects are to provide additional opportunities for students and faculty, and to put the University on a stronger financial footing. It is, on the one hand, amazing what our University does with our core financial resources, but our endowment is quite low compared to almost all of our peers. Our core financial strength is well below that of our peer and aspirant institutions. This will only be our third major comprehensive campaign; many of our peers have had four, five, six … When we launch this weekend, it will be 16 years between public launches. At many schools, that’s probably double the intervals they’ve seen. We want to provide our faculty the full set of resources that they need and deserve to deliver the best education in the country.”

What response do you predict the campaign will receive?

“The people we’ve talked about it with are very excited. As we’ve shared that faculty and staff have generated for the campaign, captured only in part by our theme of ‘We Do,’ people are very excited by it. It has traditional components of endowment for financial aid, endowment for faculty and construction of buildings, but on top of that, we’ve also added goals in six academic areas [the Creative Campus Initiative, the Global Learning Initiative, the Human Health Initiative, the Management Education Initiative, the Residential Learning Initiative and the Sustainability Initiative]. That’s a fairly new concept that we’ve built for Bucknell. I certainly hope [the campaign] will start strengthening the financial resources of the University, to build some of the buildings we need, and to really launch these initiatives.”

Where will the campaign go beyond the University?

“We’ll have three years of road shows in 10 to 12 cities. In the calendar year 2013 starting in January, we’ll be in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston and New York. We’ll be taking faculty and students on the road with us. I predict that it will be 10 to 12 major city events, 30 to 50 smaller events around the country and hundreds of individual visits.”

What does “Homecoming” mean to you?

“I love the phrase ‘Homecoming.’ It’s a great phrase. We really believe it’s not a cliché because in some measure, we want our University to be a home for alumni forever. It becomes a home typically somewhere during their freshman year, but we want it to be a home for people throughout their lives.”

What are you most looking forward to this weekend?

“I’m most looking forward to telling stories about what we do for our students, why we want to raise this resource base for our students and faculty and, quite frankly, bragging about how our faculty and students work together … that’s always a great, fun time.”

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