The Bucknell Program for American Leadership is a faculty think tank with student, staff, and Trustee affiliates, dedicated to university values of supporting cultural and ideological diversity within the tradition of the liberal arts. We find inspiration in the ongoing friendship and dialogue of Profs. Cornel West of Union Theological Seminary and Robert George of Princeton across political differences. BPAL traces its origins to a 2017 scholarly symposium held at Bucknell to reflect on the centennial of the Bolshevik Revolution and the tens of millions of deaths that resulted from it, and then to a visit by Profs. George and West shortly after.

BPAL finds inspiration in aspects of Bucknell’s history seen in the lives of four foundational alumni heroes from early years (profiled below) who exemplify four principles to which we aspire: Sacrificial public service to the American republic’s ideals, sacrificial humanitarian service to all, a positive relation between faith and higher education, and resistance to totalitarianism engendered by the liberal arts.

Bucknell’s 1846 Charter in its preamble stated that the purpose of the university is “to promote the general interests of science, literature, and good morals.” Bucknell’s current mission statement affirms “different cultures and diverse perspectives” on campus. University policy affirms “an institutional climate of respect for cultural and¬†ideological¬†diversity.” Bucknell’s founding originally as a religious institution resonates with our support for a positive relation between faith and learning.

We are grateful to generous financial support of alumni through the Open Discourse Coalition for events involving a spectrum of cultural and intellectual perspectives. ‘Ray Bucknell!

Four early Bucknellians who inspire us in BPAL’s core mission:

1. Andrew Gregg Tucker, Bucknell class of 1862, whose grave in Lewisburg near campus is pictured below, gave his life at Gettysburg supporting the republic and American ideals of liberty and justice, exemplifying application of the liberal arts to public life.

2. Annie Bell, Class of 1858, Female Institute (at what became Bucknell), volunteered to serve as a nurse in the Civil War, rising to high administrative roles. She exemplified leadership as humanitarian service.

3. The Rev. Edward McKnight Brawley, Bucknell Class of 1875 (M.A. 1878), founded schools and institutions of higher learning exemplifying a positive relation between faith and liberal arts education.

4. George Henry Ramer, Class of 1950, Lewisburg High School civics teacher, gave his life in the Korean War, exemplifying resistance to totalitarian oppression engendered by the liberal arts.