LEWISBURG, Pa. – Bucknell University president John Bravman has announced the appointment of Linda Smolka, associate professor of mathematics, as Bucknell’s NCAA faculty athletics representative. A member of the Bucknell faculty since 2004, Smolka succeeds professor Mitch Chernin, who held the post for the last 13 years.

In her role as faculty athletics representative, Smolka will represent Bucknell in its relations with the NCAA and the Patriot League. In addition, she will provide campus leadership on athletically related issues and serve as a liaison between the Department of Athletics and the University’s governance system. A former student-athlete herself as an undergraduate at Princeton, Smolka is a member of Bucknell’s Committee on Athletics and formerly served as faculty co-chair of the Committee on Campus and Student Life. She is a former faculty mentor for the Bison women’s rowing team and a former member of the Women@Bucknell advisory committee.

“Linda is superbly qualified to serve in this capacity,” said Bucknell University President John Bravman. “In addition to having the respect of her colleagues and students, Linda possesses significant, relevant experience and a commitment to our scholar-athlete model.”

“I am looking forward to serving as Bucknell’s next faculty athletics representative,” said Smolka. “This is a great opportunity to work together with our student-athletes, coaches and staff, and also to work with faculty by continuing the Team Mentor and Sideline Coach programs begun by Bucknell’s retiring FAR and my colleague, Professor Mitch Chernin.”

Smolka is one of the finest softball players in Princeton history. She was a four-time All-Ivy League selection and earned Second Team All-America honors as a junior in 1988. As a senior co-captain in 1989, she was selected as the Ivy League Player of the Year. While leading the Tigers to four straight Ivy League championships, she broke the NCAA record for career runs batted in with 144, and she still holds Princeton records for batting average in a season (.446) and career (.411).

After graduating from Princeton with a degree in civil engineering, Smolka went on to earn her master’s and Ph. D in mathematics from Penn State University. She then received a National Science Foundation VIGRE Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Duke University Department of Mathematics before joining the Bucknell faculty in August 2004. Smolka was promoted to associate professor in 2011.  

Since her arrival at Bucknell, Smolka has been awarded numerous grants and awards, and she is currently in the midst of a two-year Dean’s Fellowship. From 2007-12 she was the principal investigator for a study on “hydrodynamic stability and motion of free surface and thin film flow in cylindrical and planar geometries,” for which she received an NSF Division of Mathematical Sciences award of more than $160,000. Smolka has co-authored 13 publications and presented at numerous conferences and workshops. Her research interests include fluid mechanics, mathematical modeling and applied mathematics.

“I am very pleased to welcome Linda into the important role of NCAA faculty athletics representative,” said director of athletics and recreation John Hardt. “At Bucknell, we strive to have a Division I varsity athletics program that fits seamlessly into the academic mission of the university. Our NCAA faculty athletics rep plays a significant role in that endeavor. Linda has a keen understanding of what it takes to be a successful scholar-athlete, and she will be a fine ambassador for Bucknell Athletics across the university and among our peers at other institutions. Mitch Chernin did a marvelous job in that role over the past 13 years, and we are excited to begin working with Linda.”

Smolka and her husband, Peter Sak, a geology professor at Dickinson College, have an 8-year-old daughter, Maya.