Convocation at Bryant University is an important tradition. Through this annual ceremony, which draws on academic practices dating back to the Middle Ages, the entire community comes together to welcome new members to Bryant and start them on the road to success.
This year’s celebration, held September 29 in the campus’s Beirne Stadium, was no different. The ceremony marked the beginning of a scholarly journey based on shared values and mission. Students, faculty, alumni and staff gathered to offer advice and support to the 673 members of Bryant’s Class of 2025, as well as students transferring to Bryant for their first semester at the University.
That level of support is a hallmark of Bryant University and more important than ever in challenging times, Bryant President Ross Gitell, Ph.D. noted in his opening remarks. “The pandemic has taught us that university traditions, including convocation and commencement, are something we will never, ever take for granted,” said Gitell. “It is my pleasure to be here today with you to celebrate the beginning of the academic year.”
Entering the academy
As Bryant’s new students embark on a transformational four years of academic discovery, Bryant’s faculty and staff pledged to provide the support they’ll need to excel. “Today, we welcome you to the academy,” Associate Provost Wendy Samter noted in her address to the students, before leading them in the Bryant pledge. “Today's ceremony has several purposes. First and foremost, it is intended to convey to you the importance of your work here and to show our commitment to supporting you as you pursue your education,” she said. “It is also designed to inspire you to strive for success, to aid you in coming together as an entering class and to help you feel a connection to the existing academic community.”
“We are all part of the Bryant community, a community that is supportive, happy for our peers and lifts one another up so that we all can become better people and professionals in an ever-changing world.”
Alongside the new students, the ceremony also welcomed eight new members to Bryant’s faculty of experts and scholars, who dedicate themselves to serving as mentors for their students, both in class and beyond. The new faculty members include:
- Muni Kelly, Assistant Professor of Accounting
- E. Jin Lee, Assistant Professor of Accounting
- Mehreen Pasha, Lecturer of Management and Marketing
- Shawn Scott, Lecturer of Marketing
- Jennifer Mier, Lecturer of Accounting
- Valerie Leduc, Lecturer of Management
- Jennifer Hurrell, Visiting Professor in the Department of Science and Technology
- James Wood, Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics
Allison Butler, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Director of the Bryant Innovation and Design Experience for All (IDEA) program, and Lori Coakley, Ph.D., Professor of Management, helped the incoming students prepare for success by sharing with them the innovative mindsets that will aid them in getting the most out of college and building a bright future. Chief among those mindsets, they said, should be a focus on empathy.
“You are arriving at Bryant at a very important time in our history and in our nation's history and the Class of 2025 at Bryant is one of the brightest, most talented and most ambitious classes since Bryant's founding 159 years ago.”
"Look around, look up and down your resident halls at all the names and hometowns of people who've been brought together to live with you, look around at the students next to you in your classes and at meeting and campus events,” Butler advised the students. “This is your community and you are about to meet some of the most incredible people. Your college experience will introduce you to people from all over the world, people with very different backgrounds from yourself and with very unique stories to tell. Take the time to really get to know them."
A collegial community
The students also received a warm welcome from other Bryant students and university alumni who reminded them they are the newest link in a chain that goes back nearly 160 years. “We are all part of the Bryant community, a community that is supportive, happy for our peers and lifts one another up so that we all can become better people and professionals in an ever-changing world,” said Liam Fluharty ’23, President of the Bryant University Student Government.
He also informed his new classmates that, by becoming Bryant students, they had accepted a challenge to constantly strive to reach higher and achieve more. “It is this constant push to be a better student, a better applicant, and a better person that sets Bryant's students apart from all others,” Fluharty told the class.
“Our success during the last 18 months has proven that we are agile, innovative and bound for success. Everywhere you look, Bryant is planning for an even bolder future.”
Board of Trustee Member and President of the National Alumni Council, Rita Williams-Bogar ’76 assured the new students that a worldwide network of Bryant graduates would always be there to support and open doors for them. “I'm here today representing those of us who have already graduated and gone through the archway,” she said, citing one of the university’s most hallowed commencement traditions. “We are invested in your success. We are over 50,000 strong, we live in all 50 states and as many countries. Trust me, we've got your back.”
A bright future
The ceremony also offered a look forward. The Class of 2025, Gittell stated, represent a bright future for Bryant. “Without question, this is an exciting time for all of us,” he said. “You are arriving at Bryant at a very important time in our history and in our nation's history and the Class of 2025 at Bryant is one of the brightest, most talented and most ambitious classes since Bryant's founding 159 years ago.”
“Our success during the last 18 months has proven that we are agile, innovative and bound for success. Everywhere you look, Bryant is planning for an even bolder future,” said Gittell, noting the university’s strong showing in recent national rankings and proven track record of superior academic and professional outcomes. “It is an exciting time at Bryant and the Class of 2025 is a talented group that will continue to enhance the national prominence of the university.”