Bryant convocation 2023
President Ross Gittell, Ph.D., welcomes the Class of 2027 and new transfer students during Convocation on September 6.
‘Chart your own path’: President, university officials inspire new students at Convocation
Sep 07, 2023, by Casey Nilsson
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There are few moments in life like this one, President Ross Gittell, Ph.D., told the Class of 2027 and new transfer students during Convocation on September 6 — “a time when you’re given a great opportunity to make yourself into the person you want to be.”

Amid the late-summer heat, more than 1,000 new students, faculty, and staff gathered in the cool MAC gymnasium for the annual ceremony. On their way in, they processed to the rhythm of Bryant’s pep band, Division 1 dance team, and Division 1 cheerleading squad.

“Your education at Bryant University will provide an opportunity to develop the knowledge and critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in a rapidly changing and increasingly complicated world,” Gittell said to the group, among the most diverse and academically gifted in the institution’s history. “And with the support and encouragement of our faculty and staff, I have no doubt that you will leave Bryant prepared for life-long success.”

RELATED ARTICLE: Moving into new adventures: Class of 2027 begins first-year college experience

Bryant is student-driven, Gittell said, and the new class compels the university to innovate and move forward toward a bold future.

“You are joining our community at an exciting time of growth as we embark on Vision 2030, our strategic plan that takes academic excellence, student life, community, belonging, and economic mobility to the next level,” he said. “We are building on Bryant’s foundation of transformative learning, vibrant student experience, and commitment to excel.”

Gittell also detailed campus developments that will transform Bryant over their collegiate career, including the state-of-the-art Exercise and Movement Science lab launching this fall; the dedication of Bryant’s new building, the Business, Entrepreneurship, and Leadership Center (BELC); and improvements to athletic and dining facilities.

“Your time at Bryant will provide you with many exciting and interesting opportunities inside and outside of the classroom,” Gittell said. “Seek them out. Pursue your interests and your passions and chart your own path. This is a hallmark of a Bryant education.”

Procession at Bryant Convocation Class of 27
Students process to the MAC gymnasium for Convocation at Bryant University.

The ceremony, a longstanding campus tradition, was shepherded by Provost and Chief Academic Officer Rupendra Paliwal, Ph.D.

“Convocation is one of the oldest and most important of all the academic traditions at Bryant University,” said Paliwal. “It signifies bringing the entire Bryant community together and, according to this tradition, we reaffirm our commitment to the shared values and the purpose that set us apart as a community dedicated to our educational mission, which is to educate and inspire students to discover their passion and become leaders with character around the world.”

Director of Admission Katie McAtee then took the stage to commend the first-year and transfer students for their achievements — from supporting recently relocated refuges to winning a Swedish national silver medal in the four by two relay in swimming — and the ways they’ll enrich the campus community.

“Each of you brings something unique to Bryant,” said McAtee. “Your many qualities will enrich our campus and the world around us. We feel fortunate to be able to participate in your growth and development throughout your time here.”

RELATED ARTICLE: Welcoming the Class of 2027 to Bryant

Trustee Professor of Management Mike Roberto then shared inspiring words on fearlessness. A skilled orator, Roberto captivated the new students with a story about his family’s courage under fire during the World War II German occupation in southern Italy and their eventual emigration to the United States.

“To be fearless doesn't mean that you were never scared,” he said. “My mom and dad were certainly afraid. Afraid of the bombs. Afraid of the soldiers, of moving to a foreign land far, far away. To be truly fearless means you face your fears with confidence, determination, and persistence and overcome your trepidation. It's about having the courage to fail and the courage to pick yourself up and try again.”

The new students then reaffirmed their commitment to Bryant by reciting the Bryant University pledge, led by Vice President of Student Affairs, Dean of Students, and Chief Diversity Officer Inge-Lise Ameer, Ed.D.; Carly Sleboda ’24, president of the Bryant Student Alumni Association; and Luke Lamontagne ’24, president of student government. Lamontagne also shared encouraging words for his new academic colleagues.

“Many of you may not know where this journey will take you,” he said. “This is the perfect time to start fresh in a brand-new environment, and it's a perfect place to explore your interests and find your passion.”

RELATED ARTICLE: A new start that feels like home: Bryant’s largest transfer class makes the transition

Following the ceremony, the students gathered for a block party with food trucks and lawn games. There, they welcomed a moment of reprieve after a whirlwind move-in and first day of classes. As dusk began to fall, they strolled the sidewalks of their new collegiate home. Here, within this vibrant campus landscape, they have access to all the tools they need for future success.

But, perhaps more importantly, said Lamontagne, they’ll also discover the very best version of themselves.

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