SMITHFIELD, RI – As one of the world’s preeminent talent masters, when former Bryant University Chair of the Board of Trustees William J. Conaty ‘67, '22H stepped to the podium to deliver Bryant’s 159th Commencement address to an audience of more than 5,000 graduates and their families on Saturday, he noted, “At a time when we’re trying to find something good in the world, I think I’m looking at it.”
“At a time when we’re trying to find something good in the world, I think I’m looking at it.”
As Senior Vice President, Corporate Human Resources at General Electric Company, Conaty was the human resources leader for over 300,000 GE employees worldwide and is acclaimed for his track record of innovation and was the architect behind many of GE's human resource practices in the areas of workforce differentiation and succession planning.
Conaty and social entrepreneur Kim Anderson both received Honorary Doctor of Business Administration degrees at the Commencement ceremony.
“A college degree is a huge career differentiator, but since there are no guarantees in life, it’s up to you to optimize the benefits that your degree will afford you."
“A college degree is a huge career differentiator, but since there are no guarantees in life, it’s up to you to optimize the benefits that your degree will afford you,” he told the graduates. “Dealing with adversity is discomforting but highly developmental and you’ve already experienced significant adversity navigating your college education through a serious pandemic and coming out of the other side more battle-tested than ever before… Life will continue to throw curveballs at you in the future, but now you’re more prepared to deal with them.”
Bryant University’s Class of 2022 persevered through a period of unmatched adversity but thrived on one of the nation’s few college campuses to remain open throughout the pandemic. The class produced an unsurpassed group of leaders destined to make their mark by contributing real-world ready skills to organizations around the world. Nearly 1000 undergraduate and graduate students received a Bryant degree last week at a time when the value of a Bryant education has never been greater. Bryant is nationally acclaimed for its top 1% return on investment and the economic mobility of its alumni. For the Class of 2021, 99% were employed or enrolled in post-graduate study within six months and the median starting salary was $64,000.
"To Be Bryant means we are innovative, we are inclusive, and we are real-world ready. We will continue to achieve excellence... and continue in our efforts to turn the worst of times into the best of times."
In delivering the Class of 2022 Student Charge, Paul Theriault, headed to Hasbro as a Global Planning Analyst, noted, "To Be Bryant means we are innovative, we are inclusive, and we are real-world ready. We will continue to achieve excellence... and continue in our efforts to turn the worst of times into the best of times."
The four-year graduation rate for the class was 50% above the private college average and its career placement rate is exceptional, in the top 1% nationally.
In his Commencement remarks, Bryant President Ross Gittell, Ph.D. recognized Bryant’s remarkable transformation during a half-century in Smithfield and noted how the class of 2022 college experience was unlike any one of the University’s previous 158, but nonetheless the students were able to excel. The four-year graduation rate for the class was 50% above the private college average and its career placement rate is exceptional, in the top 1% nationally. He advised the graduates to continue to acquire new analytical skills and insights, to continue to learn from their life, their work, and their full range of experiences—and to remember that while they can not control the world around them, they can control their own response, just as they did successfully during the global pandemic and as reflected in their graduation from Bryant.
Gittell highlighted just a few of the outstanding graduates: Julia DiNatale, who will become Bryant's 2022 Recent Alumni Trustee; ROTC Cadet Nathan Charron; Bryant Brown; and Jenna Knight.
As an International Business major with double concentrations in Global Supply Chain Management and Marketing as well as a minor in French, DiNatale, from East Islip, NY, is a first-generation American and the first in her family to graduate from college. In her college entrance essay, she noted, “Although today I appreciate the richness of my background, when I was younger I saw it as something that would make me stand out in an unfavorable way and wished I could hide it.” Her next stop is Goldman Sachs, where she has accepted a position as an MAS Onboarding and Change Management Analyst.
ROTC Cadet Nathan Charron, from Upton, MA, majored in Entrepreneurship and minored in Spanish. Graduating at the top of the Patriot Battalion, which includes students from eight area universities including Bryant, Brown and Providence College, Charron was recipient of the 2022 Patriot Battalion Distinguished Military Graduate Award, Bryant Achievement Saber Award, General George Marshall Award, and Civilian Aide to Secretary of Army Award. Following graduation, Charron joins the Armored Division of the United States Army.
Bryant Brown, from Chatham, NJ, has been one of Bryant University’s most active student leaders and embodies the University’s strong spirit and commitment to integrating academic excellence and vibrant student life. He served on the Student Advisory Board for Inclusive Excellence, as a Student Senator, Vice President of the Marketing Association, founder of Club Basketball and as a member of the Bryant Senior Advisory Council. Brown’s career begins at Verizon, where he has secured a position as an Account Manager for Business Development.
The Bryant experience combines academic excellence with highly competitive NCAA Division I athletics and student-athletes graduate with a GPA higher than the student body as a whole. The Bulldogs’ Graduation Success Rate (GSR) is 95 percent, compared to a national average of 90 percent for all Division I institutions. Jenna Knight, one the University’s most accomplished and highly involved student-athletes and a member of the Women’s Volleyball team, came to Bryant from Scottsdale, Arizona, and pursued a double major in Psychology and Human Resources Management. Among her many campus commitments, she served as a member of the Bryant Senior Advisory Council. Knight will remain in Rhode Island after graduation, and has accepted a position at Gilbane Building Company as a Campus Recruiting Coordinator.
Four years ago, members of the undergraduate Class of 2022 and their classmates arrived from around the world, each with unique goals and dreams and all envisioning the moment they would step through Bryant’s iconic Archway ready to contribute to the future. Little did anyone imagine the unprecedented challenges they would face when in 2020, a global pandemic changed the world for everyone. Undeterred, this group of students has forged ahead with resilience and determination, becoming stronger for the journey. They have now joined Bryant’s powerful alumni network of more than 50,000 accomplished leaders around the world.
For nearly 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, STEM and the liberal arts. 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. Visit www.bryant.edu.