John Bravman, vice provost for undergraduate education, to lead Bucknell University

Bravman departs Stanford after 35 years, including more than a decade leading the undergraduate program. He begins at Bucknell July 1.

John C. Bravman

John C. Bravman

John C. Bravman, the Freeman-Thornton Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Stanford for more than a decade, has been named the 17th president of Bucknell University by unanimous vote of the board of trustees, Bucknell Board Chair Kenneth W. Freeman announced today.

Bravman will begin his duties as president of the 3,500-student private liberal arts university in Lewisburg, Pa., on July 1.

"John Bravman is a highly accomplished teacher, scholar, strategist and passionate advocate for the liberal arts who is also a person of great character," said Bucknell's Freeman. "He has led many aspects of Stanford's renowned undergraduate programs and is very well prepared to guide Bucknell as it continues moving forward as one of America's finest liberal arts universities. We look forward to John's leadership, and welcome him to the university with the greatest enthusiasm."

For the last 11 years, Bravman, 52, has overseen Stanford's undergraduate program as the Freeman-Thornton Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, and served as dean of Stanford's Freshman-Sophomore Residential College, which he founded in 1999. Bravman has overseen Stanford's 6,500-student undergraduate program and during his tenure helped lead a curricular transformation that introduced new pedagogies, invigorated Stanford's system of residential education and created the Stanford Summer Engineering Academy for entering Stanford undergraduates from under-resourced school districts.

A world-renowned scholar in the field of thin-film materials, he is the Bing Centennial Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and, since 2001, has been a professor of electrical engineering, by courtesy, of that department in recognition of his related achievements. He has won almost every Stanford teaching and advising award, including the Walter J. Gores Award, Stanford's highest teaching honor.

"John Bravman has been a treasured member of the Stanford community for nearly 35 years, first as an outstanding student, then as a faculty member, and finally as a university leader," said John Hennessy, president of Stanford. "During that time he has been a distinguished researcher, one of our most highly regarded and sought-after teachers, and an energetic and admired leader. As vice provost for undergraduate education, he has been a ceaseless advocate for our undergraduate students and dedicated to enhancing their educational experience. Although we are very sad to see him go, we know John's commitment to excellence and the highest standards will serve Bucknell well."

Hennessy said Stanford would immediately begin the process to fill the vice provost vacancy.

"Bucknell University holds a special place in higher education," Bravman said. "I am indebted to my friends and colleagues at Stanford for their mentoring, support and guidance, and for the fundamental role they have played in shaping my core belief in the liberal arts and undergraduate education, a value which Stanford and Bucknell so deeply share.

"Those of us who are privileged to work at selective and relatively well-resourced institutions have the opportunity to educate some of the most talented youth of each generation and are obliged to embrace that mission with vigor and honor."

Stanford Provost John Etchemendy said that Bravman has long been regarded as a thoughtful and compassionate academic leader. "Though an engineer by training, his broad-gauged interests have allowed him to engage colleagues throughout campus and to inspire alumni around the world. Stanford will not be the same without him. In John, Bucknell has found a stellar president."

Stanford President Emeritus Gerhard Casper, who appointed Bravman to the vice provost position in 1999, praised Bravman's leadership over substantial reforms in undergraduate education. "My choice of him as vice provost for undergraduate education in 1999 was one of the very best decisions I have made. He approached his task with commitment, determination and disciplinary breadth ranging from engineering to the humanities, with imagination, and with the ability to rally support for our and for his agenda. He will approach his responsibilities at Bucknell in the same spirit. I congratulate Bucknell University on its decision."

At Bucknell, Bravman will succeed Dr. Brian C. Mitchell, who last year announced his intention to step down from the presidency effective June 30, after six years in that role. Bravman's appointment follows a national search that began in August 2009. The presidential search committee comprised trustees, members of the faculty, members of the staff, a student, an alumni representative and a parent participant, and was assisted by the search firm Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates.

Bravman will take office at Bucknell during the private phase of the largest comprehensive campaign in the university's history, with a $400 million objective. He played a critical role in Stanford's Campaign for Undergraduate Education, which raised more than $1.1 billion and reignited the donor community's support for Stanford's undergraduate mission. He has traveled almost 4 million miles representing Stanford and speaking on its behalf on hundreds of occasions around the world.

"What I have really come to appreciate about Dr. Bravman is not only his accomplishments as a teacher, scholar and administrator, but his obvious commitment to undergraduate education and the liberal arts," said Tony Massoud, chair of the Bucknell faculty and associate professor of political science, who served on the presidential search committee. "We look forward to building a strong collegial working relationship with John to advance the academic goals of Bucknell."

Details about Bucknell's announcement and search are available at

A recipient of bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Stanford, Bravman has written and taught primarily in the fields of materials structure and analysis, thin-film mechanical phenomena, microelectronic reliability and high-temperature superconductivity. He is the co-author of more than 160 scholarly publications and has served in various leadership roles for the preeminent professional society in his field, the Materials Research Society, including president in 1994.

Lisa Lapin, Stanford University: (650) 725-8396,