University News

Prominent Alumnus, Outgoing Board Chair Gifts $1 Million to the University of New Haven

William Bucknall ’63, ’65, ’08 Hon., a member of the University’s Board of Governors since 2006 and one of the University’s most devoted benefactors, contributed $1 million to support student scholarships, undergraduate research, and excellence in teaching.

May 19, 2020

Image of William Bucknall
William Bucknall '63 '65, '08 Hon.

William Bucknall '63 '65, '08 Hon., the outgoing chair of the University of New Haven's Board of Governors, announced during his final Board meeting as chair that he was making a $1 million contribution to the University.

"I have always been — and I will always be — proud of my association with the University of New Haven," he said. "My only disappointment is that, due to the coronavirus pandemic, I was not able to oversee my final Commencement ceremony as Board chair and that I will have to wait until the fall to return to campus to continue celebrating the University's Centennial.

"I would like to recognize all faculty and staff for their dedication, particularly during the last two months," Bucknall continued. "I also would like to commend our students for their resolve and determination and congratulate our newest graduates. I believe, like the generations of alumni before them, that they are destined for great success. My only request is that they never forget their roots at the University of New Haven. I know I never will.

"Above all, and especially during this challenging time, I have the utmost confidence in the leadership of President Kaplan and his senior team to ensure that the University continues to thrive now and for generations to come," he added.

'A community that holds a special place in my heart'

A member of the University's Board of Governors since 2006, Bucknall was elected chair in 2018, following six years as vice chair. His gift will support student scholarships, undergraduate research, and excellence in teaching.

"It is important for me to give back and express my gratitude to a community that holds a special place in my heart."William Bucknall '63 '65, '08 Hon.

He has long been among the University's most devoted benefactors. He and his daughters, Elise Bucknall and Kristin Loranger, created the Bucknall Family Undergraduate Research or Experiential Learning Award to honor exemplary students. They also established the Bucknall Excellence in Teaching Award to recognize the commitment of faculty members.

In addition, they funded the Bucknall Family STEM Endowed Scholarship to support students studying science, technology, engineering, and math. Bucknall Theater is dedicated in Bucknall’s honor for his support of the University's theater arts program.

"I have had the great privilege of having a front-row seat for the incredible growth that has taken place at the University, and it is important for me to give back and express my gratitude to a community that holds a special place in my heart," he said. "It has been especially inspiring to see the development of this institution since I was a student here in the early 1960s."

'An education is a propulsion system'

As a student, Bucknall was a columnist with The Charger Bulletin, the University's student newspaper. In one column, he wrote that corporations should be responsible for educating people for the jobs they wanted them to perform.

After graduating he began a career in human resources at United Technologies. Over 41 years, he rose to become one of the top human resources professionals in the nation and spent 16 years as senior vice president, before retiring in 2008.

Image of aacsb logo.
William Bucknall Jr. '65 and Elise Bucknall (left) with Anna Mercaldi '19 and Sarah Markland '17, past recipients of the Bucknall Family STEM Endowed Scholarship.

While he was at UTC, the company became known for one of the most generous employee educational assistance programs in the country. "An education is the propulsion system to gainful employment but also to something far beyond that," he says. "It allows you to appreciate so many aspects of life."

In announcing his most recent gift, Bucknall asked the Board to support his request that the University rename Bayer Hall and dedicate it as Anemone and Steven Kaplan Hall, in honor of President Kaplan and his wife. Bayer Hall is home to the University's undergraduate admissions office, and it is often the initial stop for future Chargers during their first visit to campus. Under President Kaplan's leadership, full-time undergraduate enrollment has more than doubled, and first-year applications have quadrupled.

"This truly is one of the most humbling experiences of my presidency, and Anemone and I are most grateful to Bill and his daughters, Elise and Kristin, for their support," said President Kaplan. "Bill’s leadership has had a profound and far-reaching influence on the educational experience of our students. Above all, I consider Bill a dear friend, and I am thankful for the counsel and sage advice he has provided me over the years."