Ross Gittell PhD Bryant
President Ross Gittell, Ph.D., on the Bryant University campus.
President Ross Gittell on how community develops leaders at Bryant
May 30, 2024, by Staff Writer
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Transformational learning is part of Bryant University's DNA as a 160-year-old institution, says President Ross Gittell, Ph.D. Heading into his fifth year as president, Gittell discusses the importance of investing in academic programs, the campus environment, and the overall student experience and how these strategic investments strengthen Bryant's supportive community, enhance student outcomes, and reinforce the enduring value of higher education.

 

What role does Bryant play in providing transformational learning experiences for students, and what initiatives and programs are in place to facilitate this? 

Our real world-ready education and experiential learning prepares students for a lifetime of personal and professional success. Bryant’s integrated curriculum requires students to pursue a major and minor from a different college, merging business, liberal arts, and health science disciplines. This approach distinguishes our graduates and encourages them to focus on what they are passionate about while acquiring the critical skills that are needed in the 21st century economy.  

Experiential learning is at the core of what we do at Bryant, and it begins during a student’s first year with Bryant IDEA, our signature three-day intensive design thinking boot camp. IDEA provides hands-on experience and enables students to use design thinking to solve real problems facing private and nonprofit organizations. Students present their findings and recommendations to the organizations at the end of the three days. Throughout their four years at Bryant, students hone the innovative thinking, problem-solving, design, and presentation skills they are exposed to and apply during IDEA.  

Two more examples of experiential learning are the annual  Walk Down Wall Street and Arts in the City, which offer students a glimpse into careers in finance and the arts and provide opportunities to engage and network with leading practitioners in these industries. Students benefit from these types of experiential learning opportunities throughout their time at Bryant.  

 

The Class of 2023 reported the best outcomes in Bryant's history, with a median starting salary of $72,500. At a time when the value of higher education is in question, how has Bryant been successful in helping students achieve exceptional outcomes?  

Bryant University is known for creating leaders with the skills necessary to succeed. We provide a supportive academic environment where students are encouraged to work hard, care for each other, and strive for excellence. This culture of achievement is evident and contagious. With more than 100 student-run clubs and organizations, students have ample opportunity to apply and develop their leadership skills, preparing them for the professional world with confidence.  

Additionally, our academic programs align with the evolving economy and labor market requirements. Course content and student project work are continually updated to reflect industry trends, emerging technologies, and business practices. This guarantees that students graduate with relevant knowledge and skills. Our faculty also ensures that students graduate with industry contacts, connecting students with alumni and regional and global partners who visit campus, speak in classes, and sponsor internships and team projects.  

During their first year, students are introduced to the Amica Center for Career Education, and they start to chart their career paths. At Bryant, it is all about the people, and knowing there is a place to turn for support helps students become adept and confident with career development and planning. More than 90% of graduates have completed at least one internship helping them to secure jobs at companies such as Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, CVS Health, Dell, PwC, and Fidelity Investments, to name a few. 

Strong economic results are important for students and their families, and our outcomes verify that we deliver this for virtually all our graduates. They are highlighted by a top 1% ROI ranking from a Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce study, and by the 99% of graduating students who are confident that their Bryant education will support their career success. 

 

Vision 2030, Bryant University's strategic plan, and the Campus Master Plan are ambitious initiatives aimed at enhancing campus life and the student experience. Can you elaborate on the specific goals of these initiatives and their progress?  

Vision 2030 is driving Bryant forward, setting priorities for investments in our physical campus, academic programs, and student life experiences. Our goal is to further enhance students' educational and overall experience.  

This fall, the College of Business will move into its 250,000-square-foot new home, the Business Entrepreneurship Leadership Center (BELC). At the BELC, we are investing in technology-based classrooms, labs, and open learning spaces to allow students to work with corporate partners, enriching their learning experience. The recent appointment of a new Dean of the College of Business adds to the excitement.  

Dr. Todd Alessandri comes to Bryant from Northeastern University, and his extensive experience as a business strategy scholar, professor, and faculty leader makes him an exceptional choice to lead the College of Business through this transition.  

To support students' holistic success, we are creating spaces at the BELC for them to gather, socialize, and collaborate so they can excel inside and outside the classroom. We are also elevating our student life through investments in a new apartment residence hall, renovation of our dining hall, and a stadium fieldhouse. These facilities will open in fall 2025. 

 

Reflecting on Bryant's long history, what do you consider to be the most significant factors contributing to its success?  

Bryant University is right-sized. With approximately 3,600 students, we offer academic and residential experiences that are uniquely intertwined to support exceptional student outcomes. We are large enough to provide all the benefits of a larger institution but small enough for people to get to know each other. Complementing the right-size is our commitment to hiring faculty who are student-focused and dedicated to their personal and professional development.  

At the end of the day, the success of Bryant University is inextricably linked to its close-knit community, curriculum that is aligned with society and industry needs, campus life that is part of the learning and personal development experience of students, and deep commitment to student professional and personal development and career success.  

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