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Published 09/01/16

Contact: Ariella Steinreich, Steinreich Communications, (201) 498-1600, asteinreich@scompr.com 
Journalists: See media kit at bottom of release.

Historic Bryant Builds initiative culminates with two cornerstone projects

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Two premier projects of the historic Bryant Builds initiative, which has already generated record philanthropic support and resulted in the completion of more than 250,000 square feet of new facilities, will be celebrated and dedicated on September 23-24, Bryant’s homecoming weekend. Under the leadership of Bryant President Ronald K. Machtley, in his 21st year at the University, Bryant Builds is the largest and most transformative facilities initiative since Bryant’s move from Providence to Smithfield 45 years ago. The construction is made possible by unprecedented levels of philanthropic support for Bryant’s capital campaign, Expanding the World of Opportunity: The Campaign for Bryant’s Bold Future, which has already raised more than $62 million towards the campaign’s $75 million goal.

The Academic Innovation Center is a new kind of facility for teaching and learning.

Answering the call for innovative leaders prepared with skills essential for the 21 st century, Bryant will unveil its trailblazing Academic Innovation Center on September 23, 2016, at 1 p.m. The grand opening will feature demonstrations of innovative teaching styles and tours of the facility.

On September 24, Bryant’s stadium complex, including the world-class Bulldog Strength & Conditioning Center, named one of Athletic Business magazine's 10 Facilities of Merit for 2016, will be dedicated in the name of David M. ’85 and Terry Beirne at a ceremony at 12:45 p.m. The new Beirne Stadium Complex will be the site of the homecoming football game against the Central Connecticut Blue Devils at 1 p.m., in a Reunion@Homecoming competition to be broadcast on ESPN3.

Academic Innovation Center

Academic Innovation Center Bryant’s 48,000-square-foot Academic Innovation Center (AIC, left) is an entirely new kind of facility for teaching and learning. This capstone project comes after more than four years of design and strategic academic review. Designed by award-winning architects at EYP Architecture and Engineering, the building serves as a learning laboratory where ideas are quickly tested and refined in experiential learning groups and teams. In the process of designing this space, architects and faculty have reimagined the optimal environment for teaching and learning. Gone are the rows of seats and lecture dais that have served higher education for centuries. Instead, flexible spaces within the AIC are designed for a wide variety of innovative teaching and learning styles, developing leadership and design thinking skills through real-world simulations, rapid prototyping, social entrepreneurship and service learning projects,

Distinguishing features of the AIC include the Innovation Forum, a flexible 5,000-square-foot light-filled space for instruction that features moveable furnishings and advanced technology. This is a space designed so that many classes can work in groups to implement their newly discovered ideas.

The AIC "is a place where knowledge can be applied in a practical team experiential learning environment.”

The Innovation Forum is complemented by:

  • flat classrooms;
  • tiered classrooms;
  • team breakout rooms;
  • group study space;
  • lounge seating;
  • a café where students and faculty can gather for respite from rigorous problem-solving;
  • a welcome center.

The classrooms are designed to encourage the generation of original ideas and new knowledge. Abundant writable glass, whiteboard surfaces, and movable, modular furnishings complement smart technology including wireless projection, wireless monitors at group collaboration stations, and docks for multiple devices such as laptops, tablets, and smart phones. Traditional lectures will be replaced by lively interaction and immersive, collaborative, project-based learning. The learning spaces will enable faculty and students to engage as they access worldwide data, create and share content, and view and critique solutions side by side.

“Bryant’s Academic Innovation Center is a nationally unique facility that redefines the future of teaching and learning in higher education in one building,” says Bryant President Ronald K. Machtley.  “It is a place where knowledge can be applied in a practical team experiential learning environment.”

“Modern organizations exist in an increasingly complex, globally interconnected environment, and must adapt and rapidly reinvent themselves in response to new challenges,” notes Bryant Director of Faculty Development and Innovation Edward Kairiss, Ph.D. “With the opening of the AIC, Bryant’s teaching faculty have new opportunities to innovate, experiment, and develop new approaches to graduating the kind of students that are in high demand.”

A University committee of faculty advised on the project. Classes from both Bryant’s College of Arts and Sciences and College of Business will be taught in the new space.

Superior athletic facilities have accelerated the Bulldogs' climb within NCAA Division I.

“Bryant’s Academic Innovation Center will be a catalyst for transformational education,” says University Provost Glenn Sulmasy, J.D., LL.M. “It will allow our accomplished faculty to prepare students for exceptional success whether they seek to make their mark in the corporate world, in politics and law, or in the arts and sciences.”

Beirne Stadium Complex

Since joining NCAA Division I, Bryant’s Bulldogs have achieved more than anyone could have predicted, and superior facilities have accelerated the climb. The 4,400-seat Bulldog Stadium, the centerpiece of Bryant University's outstanding athletic facilities, utilizes a design consistent with much larger stadiums, ensuring excellent sight lines and maximum comfort for spectators. The facility began construction in 1998 to coincide with the varsity debut of Bryant football, and in 2009 the stadium underwent a transformation commensurate with competition at the highest level of collegiate athletics. Since that time the complex has been upgraded and changed as new locker rooms were added and one of the nation’s best-designed training facilities, the Bulldog Strength and Conditioning Center, was constructed.

The Strength & Conditioning Center allows Bulldogs to train with better equipment in less time as a team, resulting in stronger, faster athletes with fewer injuries.

Today the Bulldog locker rooms are modern, spacious facilities fully equipped with state-of-the-art technology. The new team locker rooms for Men's and Women's Lacrosse, Women's Soccer, Field Hockey, and Football have also received significant upgrades. 

Aerial of Beirne Stadium Complex Opened in August 2015, the award-winning 10,000-square foot Bulldog Strength & Conditioning Center (left) serves more than 550 student-athletes across 22 Division I sports and all Bryant Club sports teams. The facility is a superb model for other institutions and has been a resounding success in its first year, allowing Bulldogs to train with better equipment in less time as a team, resulting in stronger, faster athletes, significantly fewer injuries, and better on-field performances.

“Bryant attracts student-athletes of the highest character, work ethic, drive, toughness, and leadership,” said David M. Beirne ‘85, a former lacrosse player and 2016 Bryant University Athletic Hall of Fame inductee. “The transition to Division I has been extraordinary.”

Beirne, a legendary advocate of the “go big or go home” philosophy, is Chairman and cofounder of Fantex Holdings, Inc. He previously was a general partner at Benchmark Capital, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm that was one of eBay’s earliest investors. He has served as a Bryant University Trustee since 2003. Beirne and his wife, Terry, are among the University’s most generous philanthropists and have made leadership gifts that provided substantial funding for the expansion of Bulldog Stadium and construction of the Bulldog Strength & Conditioning Center, both equal to some of the finest NCAA Division I facilities in the country. They have donated $7 million for enhancements to the Stadium Complex, athletic programs, and student scholarships.

In addition to the Academic Innovation Center and Beirne Stadium Complex, the historic Bryant Builds initiatives include:

  • the 80,000-square-foot Conaty Indoor Practice Center, opened in May 2016. It features a state-of-the-art indoor turf field with a full 100 yards of turf for practice 365 days a year. Bryant is the only private university in the region with a permanent facility of this scale. The building is adjacent to Conaty Park, the University’s baseball and softball complex, which was previously dedicated for Sue and Bill Conaty ‘67 in 2012;
  • a new Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies facility;
  • a new entrance, integrated landscape, and point of arrival designed to enhance access to facilities on Bryant’s 435-acre contemporary campus.

Media kit


Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., is a leading private university offering an innovative and uniquely integrated business and liberal arts education. The University's 3,700 undergraduate and postgraduate students study in an intensive and immersive learning environment that has been purpose-built for high achievement. Bryant’s groundbreaking academic programs have been nationally recognized by organizations including the Davis Educational Foundation and Hanover Research. Founded in 1863, Bryant is recognized as a leader in international education and regularly receives top rankings from U.S. News and World Report, College Factual/U.S.A. Today, Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes, and Barron’s. Visit innovation.bryant.edu .