LEWISBURG, Pa. – Bucknell Athletics has been sponsoring a comprehensive leadership development program for its student-athletes since 2011. Now, supported by a generous gift from Hall-of-Famer and Bucknell trustee emeritus William Dearstyne ’62, the sixth year of the program is set to kick off with a rebranding initiative under the guidance of its first full-time coordinator in Lauren Cavallaro.

Leadership InstituteThe former Bucknell Bison Leadership Academy will now be known as the Bucknell Athletics Leadership Institute. A new logo has been commissioned, and the scope of the program will be expanded under the direction of Cavallaro, who came to Bucknell from Rice University last February.

“I am honored to continue the growth of a leadership vision that was set forth by our athletic director John Hardt and senior associate AD Maisha Kelly,” said Cavallaro. “With such wonderful success in its formative years, the program has been rebranded and expanded to the newly developed Bucknell Athletics Leadership Institute. The Institute will now feature two leadership tracks of selected student-athlete leaders, as well as a comprehensive four-year developmental program that will be open to all student-athletes.”

The first official Bucknell Athletics Leadership Institute activity will take place on Saturday, when nearly 120 student-athletes will participate in a kick-off event featuring remarks from Bucknell University President John Bravman and Dr. Joe Thomas, a consultant from The Student-Leader Seminar and a regular contributor to the Leadership Institute.

Additional enhancements to the Leadership Institute will include expanded programming and opportunities for Bucknell coaches and staff to ensure that leadership is continuously supported and augmented throughout all facets of the athletics program.  

“Bison Athletics is first and foremost a student-centered enterprise, and as such, we owe it to our student-athletes to provide them with a well-rounded experience that goes well beyond just wins and losses,” said Hardt. “A wide-ranging leadership development program is a significant part of that mission. We not only strive to foster effective leadership for our varsity programs, but we want to teach student-athletes how to transfer the many lessons learned on the playing fields into valuable lifetime skills. Bill Dearstyne has been a major advocate for leadership development, and his generous support has already substantially enhanced our program.”

As part of a Patriot League-wide initiative, Bucknell Athletics launched a formal leadership development program in the summer of 2011. Over the last five years, the program has focused on self and peer assessments related to leadership skills and personality traits; interactive leadership development seminars conducted by coaches and industry experts; and action plans where student-athletes learn to apply principles of effective leadership to real situations.

As part of the rebranding initiative, revised vision and mission statements have been crafted for the Bucknell Athletics Leadership Institute:


The Bucknell Athletics Leadership Institute will develop champion leaders, who embody academic, athletic and personal excellence and are empowered with the fortitude and skills to positively impact their teams, the Bucknell community, and the world beyond.


Our mission is to create transformational leaders who excel in the classroom, on the field of play, and throughout society. We will create a culture of inclusion, appreciation, respect and excellence that transcends boundaries. In alignment with the Bucknell University and the Department of Athletics and Recreation strategic plans, we will develop bridge-builders who positively connect sports to society. Student-athletes and coaches will develop the ability to think critically, be catalysts for change, and lead with authenticity. We will mobilize teams and peers toward collective goals and have the courage to relentlessly persevere. We recognize that leadership is both inherent and learned, and we will serve to identify, challenge and support our student-athletes and coaches in their continued pursuits to be champion leaders in all facets of life.