Bryant University President Ross Gittell, noted economist and former CCSNH Chancellor, takes office as Bryant's ninth president
Jul 04, 2020, by Staff Writer
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Contact: Liz O'Neil, Associate VP, University Relations, eoneil@bryant.edu, 401-232-6121

SMITHFIELD, RI – (July 7, 2020) Bryant University’s ninth president, Ross Gittell, Ph.D., took office on July 1, ushering in a new era of leadership for the school amid urgent and unprecedented challenges facing higher education. President Gittell previously served as Chancellor of the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH) and is considered one of nation’s preeminent economists and economic development experts. Among many civic leadership roles, Gittell is Vice President, Board Member and Forecast Chair for the nonprofit New England Economic Partnership (NEEP).

As the President of Bryant University, Dr. Gittell will build on Bryant’s dramatic upward trajectory and embedded culture of design thinking while setting the course for the university’s next chapter. Since its founding, Bryant has inspired excellence in an ever-changing world, developing moral and ethical leaders with a global perspective. As Bryant plans for the safe reopening of its campus, with classes set to resume on site August 25, the Coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on almost every facet of university instruction and student life.

"At Bryant, we recognize the need for agility in meeting today’s challenges and are enhancing our focus on professional education and training for character and leadership skills critical for the 21st century."

“The American higher education system is a source of competitive advantage and distinctiveness,” said Dr. Gittell. “The world benefits from the great diversity and innovation in our universities, and we are addressing historic challenges. Particularly at Bryant, we recognize the need for agility in meeting today’s challenges and are enhancing our focus on professional education and training for character and leadership skills critical for the 21st century. The Bryant community’s response to the pandemic will further differentiate Bryant and I’m confident we will emerge stronger because of our work together. Our students, faculty, and staff have already proven this.”

With an extensive background in university teaching, strategic planning, and management, Gittell’s focus has been on applying economic, organizational, and management theory to regional, state, and community economic development issues. Gittell has frequently served as an expert resource for government, non-profit, and business leaders on topics including economic policy, workforce development, job creation strategies, community development, and the business climate.

"Dr. Gittell’s outstanding academic credentials and experience as the CEO of seven community colleges within a complex organizational setting make him a perfect fit.”

During a special week of welcome organized by the Bryant community for July 6-10, members of Bryant’s Board of Trustees, faculty and staff, and many of Gittell’s peers offered high praise. Bryant University Chair of the Board William J. Conaty ’67 said, “Most university presidential transitions present challenges, but a transition during a worldwide pandemic is a real curve ball. We are thrilled to find a leader like Ross Gittell, who embodies the character and future vision for Bryant University. Dr. Gittell’s outstanding academic credentials and experience as the CEO of seven community colleges within a complex organizational setting make him a perfect fit.”

Speaking on behalf of all of the colleges and universities in the State of Rhode Island, Rosanne Somerson, President of Rhode Island School of Design, says, “Ross Gittell is someone of incredible intelligence, great generosity, and terrific listening skills. He is a problem solver who doesn’t impose his ideas onto a situation but builds the idea out of the strength of the community.” Ross Gittell “can help to make Bryant a nimble, agile, innovative institution, which is exactly what students are looking for and what higher education needs to provide at this particular moment in time,” she notes.

Gittell "is a problem solver who doesn’t impose his ideas onto a situation but builds the idea out of the strength of the community."

“His reputation as an economist is regionally and nationally known,” said Edward M. Mazze, University Distinguished Professor of Business Administration for the URI College of Business. “Ross is an excellent leader, manager, and spokesperson on business and economic issues. He has the personal, academic, and business skills to lead Bryant University to the next stage of its growth. He listens, has great respect for the people he works with and has the value system needed in dealing with all the constituencies important to a university.”

“I feel very lucky to have known Ross for 30 years and to be engaged as we try to shape our future,” said John Ballantine, Jr., President of NEEP and Senior Lecturer in the Brandeis International Business School, who frequently collaborates with Gittell on NEEP research and initiatives. President Gittell “knows how to get broad participation in creating informed strategies that address the huge challenges we’re all facing. He’ll gather people together, look at information, and analyze, both the specific policies that are required, and more broadly how to get participation in the whole system and ecology of economic development.”

Gittell "is an excellent leader, manager, and spokesperson on business and economic issues."

Bryant University President Gittell holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy from Harvard University, Dively Fellow; a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley, Beta Gamma Sigma; and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Chicago, Phi Beta Kappa. Prior to his appointment as CCSNH Chancellor, he was the James R. Carter Professor in the Department of Management at the Whittemore School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire.

His teaching career spans over 20 years and includes, in addition to the Whittemore School, teaching at the Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan, and  Graduate School of Education, Economics Department and Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. President Gittell has been active on numerous boards and commissions and is extensively published. Beyond the academic arena, his background includes senior economic consulting for corporate and public sector clients.

Gittell “knows how to get broad participation in creating informed strategies that address the huge challenges we’re all facing."

Founded in 1863, Bryant University today is the result of 157 years of continuous innovation and evolution. Transitioning from a regional business college to a respected university in 2004, over the last decade Bryant has garnered growing national recognition as a pioneer in student-centered learning delivered through a distinctive combination of academic knowledge and character-building learning opportunities including highly competitive NCAA Division I Athletics. The University’s unique academic model integrates business, the liberal arts, sciences, and high-impact pedagogies. The university’s academic programs have been nationally recognized by organizations including the Davis Educational Foundation and Hanover Research. Bryant’s student learning outcomes and return on investment are recognized among the best in its peer group. A survey of recent graduates confirmed that 99% percent are employed and/or enrolled in post-graduate study within six months, with a median salary of $60,000. 

For 157 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. Located on a contemporary campus in Smithfield, R.I., Bryant enrolls approximately 3800 undergraduate students from 38 states and 49 countries. Bryant is recognized as a leader in international education and regularly receives top rankings from U.S. News and World Report, Money, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Wall Street Journal, College Factual, and Barron's. Visit www.Bryant.edu

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