Alumni Award recipients
On Friday, June 24 during Reunion Weekend, ten members of the alumni community were honored with Alumni Achievement Awards. Winners chosen for the Alumni Awards are accomplished individuals who have contributed to the advancement of their profession as well as to Bryant University.
2022 Alumni Achievement Award winners honored during alumni weekend
Jun 25, 2022, by Staff Writer
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On Friday, June 24 during Reunion Weekend, ten members of the alumni community were honored with Alumni Achievement Awards. “This is an incredibly talented and dedicated group of honorees,” said Robin Warde P’17, Executive Director of Alumni and Parent Engagement at Bryant. “They are all exemplary members of the Bryant alumni community and well deserving of recognition. I’m so pleased that we were able to celebrate their accomplishments on campus this year in person.”

Winners chosen for the Alumni Awards are accomplished individuals who have contributed to the advancement of their profession as well as to Bryant University. They have followed their passion in life and have demonstrated outstanding character both as members of their profession and in the Bryant community. These winners have excelled in their level of engagement with the University and their ongoing ambassadorship for the school.

Karl ’58, ’91H (posthumously) and Jackie (Ruest) Ericson ’57, P’84
Key to the University

The Key to the University is Bryant University’s most prestigious honor. It is presented to esteemed graduates who, through their dedicated service and generosity, have improved and distinguished the University in a singular way.

Before they met, Jackie Ruest and Karl Ericson recognized the value of a college education. Jackie took a year off after high school to earn tuition money for Bryant’s Executive Secretarial program. While Karl’s G.I. Bill benefits from four years in the Navy helped with expenses, he took any job he could get, working at a supermarket meat counter and washing cars at a car dealership.

Jackie remembers the fellow who called out, “Hi, Jackie!” after class one day looked like a nice guy. By her second spring at Bryant, the woman from Plainville, MA was engaged to the commuter from Putnam, CT.

After graduation, Karl worked as an accountant in New York City and at Glass, Dittleman & Co. in Providence before joining KPMG Peat Marwick. Named a KPMG partner in 1970, he made the couple’s first gift to Bryant after a visit from President Harry Evarts. Karl credited Bryant “100 percent for his success,” Jackie recalls. “He wanted to give back. We wouldn’t have had anywhere near the life we had – if not for Bryant.”

Bryant Leadership Council of Donors charter members, the Ericsons established a memorial scholarship for an accounting student that evolved into the Ericson Family Endowed Scholarship Fund. The couple loved meeting scholarship recipients they recognized as “great kids who will contribute to making a better world!’”

Karl was a Bryant trustee from 1980 to 1988, when he became an honorary trustee, a position he held until his passing on August 28, 2020. The first alumnus to serve as Chairman of the Board, the couple were thrilled by Bryant’s growth under Presidents Evarts, William O’Hara, William Trueheart, and Ronald Machtley. In 1988, Karl was touched to receive the Nelson Gulski Alumni Service Award and was proud to receive an honorary degree in 1991, with his children, older brother, and his mother in attendance.

Throughout Karl’s career and service to Bryant, he was supported by Jackie. During their early years in New York City, her associate’s degree from Bryant’s Executive Secretarial program earned her a higher salary than Karl’s as a junior accountant. She later earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Brown University, “Setting a good example for my children, that as an adult, I was eager to continue to learn.” The value of education is a lesson she now shares with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Knowing several Key to the University award recipients, Jackie says Karl would be honored – and humbled – that the University so appreciates his commitment to add their names to the list of esteemed recipients. “For Karl, I could not be more thankful. I feel the same way he did: Bryant was the best thing I ever did. Bryant was the best thing we ever did.”

Frank Hauck ’81, P’08

Distinguished Alumnus Award - Undergraduate

This award recognizes a Bryant alumnus or alumna with a record of outstanding professional achievement or community service. Such distinction may include the fields of education, science, business, government, sports, the arts or other areas.

When Frank Hauck ’81, P’08 walked through the Archway as a new college graduate, he had no way of knowing that one of his most challenging career decisions was going to be whether or not to retire. “I had submitted my retirement papers in 2018 after a very satisfying 28 years at Dell EMC when I got the call from a former colleague asking, ‘Do you want to play a key role in transforming a 134-year-old company?’,” he says. “How could I say ‘no’ to that?”

Now President and GM of NCR, Banking Division, Hauck is continuing his decades-long work as a changemaker. “NCR once had a single purpose – manufacturing cash registers for places of business,” he says. “It’s now the world’s technology leader for restaurants, retailers, and banks as well as a global payment provider for retail and hospitality, and a provider of multi-vendor ATM software.” 

One core competency Hauck champions is focusing on the customer experience. “At Dell EMC, part of the culture was assessing, reassessing, and adapting to our customers’ changing needs,” he says. “NCR shares that customer-first ethic, and it’s part of the reason I was tempted to delay my retirement.”

Like many esteemed leaders, Hauck believes the best part of what he does is develop others. “I’ve been in successful, profitable organizations, but what I’m most proud of is the legacy of leaders I’ve coached and mentored over the years. Investing in people is true success.”

Bryant, he says, taught him how to learn and provided him with the skills and confidence to get out of his comfort zone. “I’ve found myself in challenging situations where things don’t go as planned. You have to understand it as part of the journey. You make the best of it and figure out how to make the right adjustments.”

As an alum, and as the husband and father of alumnae, Hauck remains involved and invested in his alma mater. “I am incredibly impressed with the stewardship of the University and how it’s grown. It’s a well-run organization with a focus on the whole student experience – exactly as it should be.”

David Pogorelc ’85

Distinguished Alumnus Award - Undergraduate

This award recognizes a Bryant alumnus or alumna with a record of outstanding professional achievement or community service. Such distinction may include the fields of education, science, business, government, sports, the arts or other areas.

If you ask David Pogorelc ’85, CEO/Founder of Boston real estate development and investment company Core Investments, Inc., the reason for his success, he’ll tell you it’s because he has faith. “I pray about all my decisions,” he says. “I listen to that still small voice within.”

With a multi-million dollar firm under his guidance for 31 years, Pogorelc has a proven track record of success. “I always knew I wanted my own business,” he says. “In college I got involved in real estate and obtained my real estate license. That led to my creating a real estate internship at Bryant with one of my professors. I ended up learning a lot about researching properties and zoning and plot plans – fundamentals that served me well when setting out on my own.”

More than a job, Pogorelc considers what he does a quest. “I look for undervalued assets,” he explains. “I call it treasure hunting. But I also have a vision for what they can be. I want to add value to the entire community when I undertake a project – to transform it, to create something better. Doing it well means understanding momentum and trends, and I hire the right people and create an excellent team.”

Pogorelc believes in giving back and paying it forward. “I've been involved with the Elevator Pitch Competition as a judge at Bryant for many years,” he says. “I've also taught as a guest lecturer a couple of times in a real estate finance class. It’s always important to be involved in some way. Sharing a unique gift or some time can be more valuable than you imagine.”

When it comes to finding motivation, Pogorelc spends time looking inward. “Meditating and thinking about how to live life honorably, about my decisions, and praying about them guide me,” he says. “But I also enjoy time with family and friends. I’m grateful for my abilities, success, and the gifts that I've been given – and I’m incredibly humbled and honored to be named a distinguished alumnus of Bryant.”

Gary S. Gillheeney, Sr. ’83MBA

Distinguished Alumnus Award, Graduate School

This award recognizes an alumnus/a of Bryant University’s Graduate School of Business who has a demonstrated record of outstanding professional achievement or community service.

On September 6, 2019, Gary S. Gillheeney, Sr. ’83MBA rang the Nasdaq closing bell to celebrate taking Organogenesis Inc. public. Flashing through his mind were the many challenges and years of hard work by a talented team dedicated to leading the field through innovation. It was “a bucket-list moment.”

Gillheeney, the company President and CEO, proudly says “saving limbs and savings lives” inspires the work at his leading regenerative medicine company offering products for the advanced wound care and surgical biologics markets. It’s work he shares as a guest speaker with students in Bryant’s Physician Assistant Program. He believes it’s important for students to have knowledge of state-of-the-art products they don’t always see, such as Apligraf®, the company’s patented bioengineered skin substitute. 

Gillheeney has led Organogenesis’ growth and development for more than 15 years. He served as Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Financial Officer from 2003 to 2014, when he became President and CEO. In 2009, he was recognized as one of Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneurs of the Year.” Avista Capital Partners, the private equity firm that helped take Organogenesis public, recognized Gillheeney as “CEO of the Year” in 2021.

After receiving a Bachelor’s in Accounting from American International College in Springfield, MA, Gillheeney enrolled in Bryant’s Graduate School of Business, intending to earn a Master’s in Accounting. He vividly recalls a strategic planning class that ignited a passion for building successful organizations and creating value that led him to pursue an MBA. As he became involved in mergers and acquisitions, he developed the skills to understand the legal, organizational, and cultural issues that allowed him to advance from chief financial officer to chief executive officer. 

During a career in executive management, operations, and finance that spanned more than 25 years, Gillheeney held executive positions at Innovative Clinical Solutions, Ltd. including as its Chief Operating Officer. He previously served as Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer, and Assistant Secretary at Providence Energy Corporation.

A member of the Board of Trustees of American International College, Gillheeney also serves on the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio) Board of Directors, a select group of life sciences leaders committed to growing the life sciences industry in Massachusetts, adding value to the healthcare system, and improving patient lives.

Jason Macari '90MBA

Distinguished Alumnus Award, Graduate School

This award recognizes an alumnus/a of Bryant University’s Graduate School of Business who has a demonstrated record of outstanding professional achievement or community service. 

A sense of curiosity and an entrepreneurial spirit have always driven Jason Macari ’90 MBA, President and CEO of Baby Delight, Inc., a baby product design and development company, and Macari Properties, Inc., a commercial real estate firm.

After receiving a Bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Macari knew he needed a business education to fulfill his ultimate goal of running his own company.

"Bryant was the best fit for me," he says, since he was able to earn his MBA while working full time and raising a family. 

Macari’s career began at Hasbro, and then Davol Inc. But he found his true calling at Safety 1st, where he developed a passion for juvenile products, an industry he describes as an intersection of fun, care, and safety. 

In 2001, he acquired Summer Infant, an established brand with declining revenues, growing it from $1M to $250M in sales, and taking it public in 2007. When he left in 2014, he got involved in commercial real estate because finding and designing mixed-use buildings for Summer Infant appealed to his problem-solving nature.

In 2016, he acquired Baby Delight, a company focused on safe baby products that are also beautiful and functional. 

Macari credits family and faith for giving him the strength and character to run businesses and manage other people. "It's a humbling experience. On one hand you have to lead, but you also must take your direction from others. The key is having others' best interests at heart, not just your own."

It's why his relationship with Bryant is focused on giving back where he can. For nearly a decade, he and his wife have funded the Jason P. '90MBA and Martha Anne Macari Partners in Scholarship Fund. 

"I grew up quite modestly," he explains. "I don't know if I would have been able to get an advanced degree if it hadn't been for the help I got at the time."

He has spoken to MBA classes, offered internships to Bryant students, and employed Bryant grads. "I appreciate being able to offer support, and hope I’ve helped even one more person be able to contribute at a higher level in life."

Eileen Hayes ’07

Emerging Leader Award

This award recognizes an alumnus or alumna for growth and early success in their profession and for their service to Bryant University.

Winning the stock market contest in the fifth grade, despite choosing Pfizer as her stock simply because of its wild spelling, was Eileen Hayes’ ’07 first introduction to a career in finance. After winning the contest again in high school, she spent a day at the New York Stock Exchange and saw no women on the floor. It clicked that this was an opportunity to be part of changing the industry’s landscape.

Early on, Hayes, who graduated with a Series 7 license, quickly learned how ambiguous finance was and that the field wasn’t limited to Wall Street. Predicting this path was as uncertain as a weather forecast, so she focused on finding opportunities for continuous education and growth that shaped the winding road to where she is today.

Being elected Student Senate President at Bryant was not only the greatest honor for me but served as a catalyst to learn about myself that shaped who I became as a woman, both in my career and as a human being,” says Hayes.

Hayes serves as Vice President of Asset Manager Consulting at Envestnet in Boston. “I am so inspired by this company,” which, she says, empowers advisors to deliver better outcomes for their clients through an intelligent financial life. Previously, Hayes spent four years at U.S. Boston Capital Corp focusing on institutional distribution and held business development positions at Contravisory Investment Management and Advisors Asset Management, where she was hired after a college internship facilitated by Steven Cowen ’69, who continues to be a mentor.

Making Bryant a priority while managing a demanding career is, in part, keeping a promise to Cowen “to never forget the power of the Bryant network” and to pay it forward every opportunity she could. Not coming from a family with connections in finance, Hayes says, the Bryant community has guided her career path. An Alumni Leadership Council member, she served as Chair of the Regional Alumni Network in New York and Massachusetts and continues to engage with students.

Another way she partners with Bryant is chairing the Women in Wealth Management board for Envestnet Institute on campus, which mentors and places the next generation of talent in the industry. The person I am today is so greatly connected to those four years at Bryant,” Hayes says, “so I share my gratitude by staying closely connected to it as the school transforms, grows, and continues to send the most intelligent, world-ready, and polished students into their careers.”

Samantha Merwin

Emerging Leader Award

This award recognizes an alumnus or alumna for growth and early success in their profession and for their service to Bryant University.

For Samantha “Sam” Merwin ’12, CFA, Head of Markets Advocacy at BlackRock, taking chances is a way of life. “The greatest successes I’ve experienced so far have happened when I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone. There is no right or wrong career path as long as you are learning and growing.”

Merwin says that prioritizing transferable skills, which Bryant helped her to appreciate, allowed her to see a way to increase her value, benefiting her and her organization.

“You can learn content, but it’s harder to teach someone to be a team player or how to work well in a group,” she says. “Those skills are critical in today’s workplace, and they are incorporated into almost all of Bryant’s classes.”

When Merwin transferred to BlackRock’s New York office in 2015, she reached out to the alumni community to network. She joined the Wall Street Council to connect not only with other professionals in finance but also with faculty and current students.

Maintaining a connection to Bryant is something Merwin feels strongly about. She was recruited to work at BlackRock by a Bryant alumnus. “If he wasn’t still connected to Bryant, my career path would look quite different,” she says. “There are so many big and small ways to get or stay involved. Even something as simple as connecting with current students on LinkedIn who have questions about different careers or companies or offering to review resumes on Alumnifire can have a big impact on the University and its students.”

Merwin also joined the Dean’s Council in the College of Business at the behest of Dean Madan Annavarjula, Ph.D. – a newer initiative where members provide industry advice and leverage their own networks to open doors for Bryant students.

Named a “Rising Star” by Women’s Bond Club in 2020 and a “Rising Star of Wall Street” in 2021 by Business Insider, Merwin is honored to be named an “Emerging Leader” by Bryant. “So much of what I learned at Bryant set the foundation for me to grow and become a leader in my career, so it feels like it's all coming full circle.”

Jeffrey ’91 and Kimberly (Roy) Fryer ’92, P’19, P’22

Nelson J. Gulski Award

This award recognizes an alumnus or alumna with a record of exemplary and longstanding volunteer service to the University or the Alumni Association. Such service will have enhanced the name, prestige, or educational excellence of the University or significantly furthered the outreach and professionalism of the Association. This award is named for Nelson J. Gulski ’26, ’72H, ’92H, whose association with Bryant as a student, teacher, administrator, and trustee spanned more than 70 years. 

When Jeff Fryer stepped up to help clean a dorm window his junior year, he was surprised to see someone looking back. Kim Roy was just as surprised by the young man’s head that popped up in front of her window. The two quickly learned they had much in common, including their accounting majors.

Married a year after Jeff earned his Master of Science in Taxation from the University of Hartford and Kim graduated from Bryant in 1992, they set out to establish careers. Kim worked for nearly two decades in the mortgage industry while Jeff, a licensed CPA, started his career in public accounting with Coopers & Lybrand. He held leadership roles at Lydall, Chemtura Corporation, and Alexion Pharmaceuticals, where he rose to Vice President & Chief Tax Officer, retiring in 2017.

In 2018, Jeff became a co-founder and Chief Financial Officer of Rallybio, a biotechnology company dedicated to identifying and accelerating the development of life-transforming therapies for patients with severe and rare disorders.

In addition to managing successful careers, raising sons Ryan ’19 and Chris ’22 who thrived at Bryant, and volunteering in their community, Jeff and Kim have been among Bryant’s most active and engaged alumni. Their generosity runs deep. They served as inaugural Co-Chairs of the Bryant Parents Council, reaching out and answering questions to ensure parents are confident their students are well cared for.

Jeff has also lectured in numerous Bryant classes and participated as an alumni mentor and judge for the University’s annual three-day design-thinking immersion for first-year students. He shares his experience and expertise with students as a mentor, through the Alumni Job Shadow Program, as well as during visits to classes. Jeff serves as chair of the Dean’s Advisory Council for the College of Business.

The couple was recognized with the 2016 Champions of Philanthropy Outstanding Parents Award. Their generous and continued support for Bryant runs deep, including naming a classroom in the Quinlan/Brown Academic Innovation Center in honor of Accounting Professor Michael Lynch, the mentor Jeff credits for his success, as well as study rooms in honor of family.

Humbled to receive the Gulski Award, the Fryers note that they make the University a priority because they are grateful for their Bryant experience.

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