Bryant University concludes a successful semester on campus ahead of the Thanksgiving break with a shared sense of gratitude and accomplishment. The University has leveraged its foundational strengths, lifted by a spirit of determination and an unwavering commitment to excellence and to one another, to achieve this outcome.
"Community is a word that is often used casually, however, the word is incredibly meaningful when realized.”
The community comes together now to share thanks and appreciation for every hard decision, each lesson learned, and every person who did their part in the community-wide effort. Visit Bryant.edu/reopening to watch videos, read the story in more detail, and see messages of thanks from students, faculty, staff, alumni, and trustees.
Among the first
Bryant was among the first colleges and universities to announce its commitment to a residential experience for the fall 2020 semester and to welcome students back to campus in mid-August. The entire campus community mobilized over the summer and fall to reach a common goal: keep everyone healthy and finish the semester together. Today, Bryant is one of the first schools to reach this milestone.
“We took this leadership role because we believe in the transformative learning and personal growth made possible by Bryant’s integrated academic and student life experience."
“We took this leadership role because we believe in the transformative learning and personal growth made possible by Bryant’s integrated academic and student life experience,” said Bryant University President Ross Gittell, Ph.D. "In my first semester as Bryant's president, I have learned that this is a community bound by strong spirit, deep commitment and caring for each other, and the drive to succeed. Working together, we are positioned for a bright future.”
The community comes together now to share thanks and appreciation for every hard decision, each lesson learned, and every person who did their part in the community-wide effort.
Planning and pivoting
Factors leading to the University’s success amid the unprecedented, complex, and continually shifting circumstances of the global pandemic include: University-wide leadership, mobilization, and communication in developing a forward-thinking strategy; commitment to academic integrity; innovation-minded and nimble faculty, staff, and students; and a universal commitment to creating a safe and healthy environment for living and learning on campus.
These combined efforts enabled Bryant to carry out its primary objective: to ensure continuity and quality in delivering innovative, student-centered academic and student life programs.
Health, safety, and academic integrity
As leaders developed the plan for the fall reopening, it was clear that a successful semester would be contingent upon the health and safety of the community. The University invested more than $3 million to implement best safety practices including testing (partnering with the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT), contact tracing, and quarantine protocols to reduce the spread and keep the community healthy. Bryant’s surveillance testing plan provided full population testing every week, with 30 percent being tested multiple times each week. At 94 percent student residency compared to last fall, Bryant conducted more than 60,000 COVID surveillance tests, with a very low positivity rate of 0.12 percent.
Concern for the health and safety of Bryant’s community of scholars resulted in the decision to adopt a compressed academic calendar with the start of classes on August 25 and completion of exams and the semester before the Thanksgiving break.
“I am profoundly impressed and inspired by the way faculty adapted and innovated their courses and their teaching, going far above and beyond the call in their dedication to academic excellence and to their students.”
This shift required much more that adjusting the academic calendar dates and adding classes on Monday holidays and several Saturdays. Bryant invested more than $500,000 in new hybrid classroom technology and training to deliver HyFlex instruction. Dedicated faculty completely reimagined their courses and teaching methods to meet students’ needs. In the span of about two months, a multidisciplinary academic leadership team innovated and adapted to deliver Bryant’s high-quality, student-centered educational experience safely and effectively.
“This fall has revealed the character and grit of our community of scholars,” says Provost and Chief Academic Officer Glenn Sulmasy, JD, LL.M, “I am profoundly impressed and inspired by the way faculty adapted and innovated their courses and their teaching, going far above and beyond the call in their dedication to academic excellence and to their students.”
Students’ commitment to staying together
The most well thought-out strategies and plans are only as successful as the people carrying them out. Among the campus constituencies most deserving of recognition and thanks are the students. From Resident Assistants to Student Government leaders to every individual who masked up, showed up, attended classes, and followed state and university guidelines, Bryant students are to be commended for their commitment to the success Bryant has achieved this semester.
Student Government President Ian Whitehead ’22 reflects on the semester, “Not everything was perfect. It was hard and there were many challenges to overcome. The thing I am most proud of is how strong everyone remained during these uncertain times. The Bulldog spirit never went away, and, in my opinion, it grew even stronger.”
"Community is a word that is often used casually, however, the word is incredibly meaningful when realized,” says Inge-Lise Ameer, Ed.D., Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students. “I am so proud and grateful to be part of a community, the Bryant community of students, faculty, and staff, that worked together in difficult circumstances to realize the continuation of a Bryant education for all of our students."
Positioned for the future
The challenges facing higher education and our nation continue to be significant. Bryant’s longstanding culture of shared purpose predated the pandemic and has become stronger because of it. Bryant took a leadership role in announcing commitment to the residential experience and is in a strong position to prepare the students and the institution for future success.