SMITHFIELD, RI – Bill ’67 and Sue Conaty’s transformative leadership at Bryant University continues, as they become Lead Investors in Vision 2030 with a $5 million gift. This brings their generous lifetime support of the university to more than $13 million. Their Vision 2030 contribution drives significant momentum toward a Vision 2030 capital campaign.
Vision 2030 charts a bold path for the university, building on Bryant’s foundational strength in business education and integrated liberal arts, and its new strengths in health and behavioral sciences. The Conatys’ support affirms the university’s focus on academic excellence; a vibrant student experience; premiere Division I and recreational athletics; and economic mobility.
“The impact of the Conatys’ gift cannot be overstated,” says Bryant University President Ross Gittell, Ph.D. “Their leadership support comes at a pivotal time for Bryant. As we prepare to launch our most aggressive capital campaign in the university’s history, this gift is the catalyst that will inspire others to give. It propels us toward achieving the important goals and aspirations we share for Bryant.”
Bill Conaty has been a leader at Bryant since arriving on campus as a student in 1963. He continued his service on the Board of Trustees (beginning in 2001), most notably as chair from 2014 to 2020. Conaty also served as co-chair of Bryant University’s presidential search committee in 2020. In 2022, Conaty received an Honorary Doctorate from the university and gave a rousing commencement address to the graduating class.
A student athlete and Bryant Athletic Hall of Fame inductee, Conaty learned that the skills he acquired as a college athlete offered significant competitive advantage and important transferable skills to the world of business as he rose to the position of Senior Vice President of Corporate Human Resources at General Electric.
“Vision 2030 aims to future-proof Bryant students’ experiences so they can compete and thrive, whether on the field or in the boardroom,” says Conaty. “This gift serves as an anchor for the university’s strong vision for moving forward to stronger regional and national recognition for outstanding professional education and student outcomes. Investing in Vision 2030 will help to propel Bryant forward, enabling an era of growth, innovation, and prominence.”
The Conatys’ gift includes $1 million to install synthetic turf on the baseball field, which will allow the team to play and condition year-round. The turf improvements will help the Bulldogs compete in Bryant’s new conference, America East, and nationally. “Great coaches and great players deserve great facilities,” says Conaty.
With the student experience also top of mind, $2 million of the Conatys’ gift is earmarked for a new arena, improving the athletic and recreational facilities for all students. “Bryant is known for educating the whole student. Sports and recreation are an integral part of these formative years,” Conaty says. “Both competitive and collegial sports offer lessons in success, failure, and teamwork, which play outsized roles in future careers.”
Another $2 million from the Conatys’ transformative gift will go toward scholarships. With that support, a Bryant education continues to be accessible to first-generation and Pell Grant recipients. The scholarships ensure that more students of all backgrounds can access Bryant’s competitively ranked programs, world-class academic and athletic facilities, and the university’s celebrated experiential learning opportunities. “I arrived at Bryant a first-generation student and the university had a direct impact on my career,” Conaty continues. “Sue and I are deeply committed to helping more students have the same access to this life-changing education.”
“From both an alumni and stakeholder perspective, Bill understands the value of investing in Bryant University,” says David M. Beirne '85, who succeeded Conaty as Chairman of Bryant University’s Board of Trustees in 2020. “He has witnessed the impact that philanthropy has on students at every point in their Bryant journey and understands the benefit to future Bulldogs. This generous gift gives the university the needed momentum to launch into Bryant’s new era under the vision and leadership of President Gittell.”
This is not the Conatys first change-making gift to the university. In 2012, a generous donation from the couple turned Bryant’s Division I softball and baseball fields into Conaty Park, with bleacher seating for 500 fans and a press box. In 2016, Bryant unveiled the 80,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Conaty Indoor Athletic Center, New England’s only Division I indoor training facility of its kind.
“The unwavering support from Bill and Sue Conaty comes at an integral time for Bryant, giving us the needed momentum to embark on a capital campaign and work on some of the most ambitious goals in the university’s 160-year history,” says President Gittell. “Their leadership and generosity will expand our strong offerings in athletics and student life and help more students to access a Bryant education, which has proven time and again to be the catalyst for student success and economic mobility. Thank you to Bill and Sue for your leadership and thoughtful and generous investment in Bryant’s future. This crucial lead-in to our upcoming campaign will allow us to more fully capitalize on the bold innovations planned through Vision 2030.”
About Bryant University
For 160 years, Bryant University has been at the forefront of delivering an exceptional education that anticipates the future and prepares students to be innovative leaders of character in a changing world. The university delivers a uniquely integrated academic and student life experience with nationally recognized academic programs at the intersection of business, liberal arts, and health and behavioral sciences.
Located on a 428-acre contemporary campus in Smithfield, R.I., Bryant enrolls approximately 3,800 undergraduate and graduate students from 38 states and 49 countries. Bryant is recognized as a top 1% national leader in student education outcomes and ROI and regularly receives high rankings from U.S. News and World Report, Money, Bloomberg Businessweek, Wall Street Journal, College Factual and Barron’s. Bryant.edu
The Vision 2030 strategic plan sets an exciting trajectory for Bryant University. Priorities include an ecosystem of academic excellence, vibrant student life, competitive athletics and facilities, and championing access and economic mobility. Vision2030.Bryant.edu