Bryant: A family tradition
"The education that I got at Bryant absolutely helped me [get where I am today],” says Jill (Wienkoop) Davis ’89, director of the Hendrick Hudson Free Library in Montrose, NY. “I have to manage staff, publicity, marketing, and finances … I oversee a $1.3 million budget every year.”
“Bryant instills a lot of futuristic thinking.”
Jill sits in a spacious, sun-filled office at her place of employment, joined by her parents, Jeanne (Martin) Wienkoop ’59 and Herbert Wienkoop ’58, who have brought bags of memorabilia from their times at Bryant – black and white photos of young women in long gloves, an etiquette book, and Herbert’s fraternity pin.
The library tradition
Libraries – and Bryant – are a Wienkoop family tradition. Jeanne was a trustee of the library for 22 years and involved in the construction of the new building where her daughter now works. Her grandson, Tyler James Davis ’13, worked at Bryant’s Douglas and Judith Krupp Library for three years before graduating (ahead of schedule) in May.
“Did Bryant help? Absolutely. I can’t imagine that I would have been as well prepared for this position without that education. You don’t realize it until way after you’ve finished with school,” says Jill, who earned a master’s in library science from Long Island University in 2001.
“Bryant instills a lot of futuristic thinking,” she continues. “I have to be able to understand the needs of the community that I serve [and balance that with] what I think they can handle financially. All of those topics were covered in some way, shape, or form while I was at Bryant.”
A holistic education
Jill understands the value of a holistic education that equips individuals with the tools needed for the ever-changing work place. She went to Bryant with one goal in mind: to open a restaurant. She has found her passion professionally, but it’s a far cry from expensive wines and flaming steaks.
"Tyler would say to me, 'I am never ever going to use this in my life,' and I tell him, 'just wait,'" she says, adding: "It may be three, five, or 10 years, but I guarantee you at some point you will say to me, 'that's why I had to take that class.'"
Jeanne, with a BS in executive secretarial studies, agrees. She transition from IBM Research, to ITEK Corp., to 20 years as administrative assistant to the principal of Hendrick Hudson High School. All while participating on the boards of the library, the American Cancer Society, and the March of Dimes, among many other philanthropic organizations, and while raising her three daughters. Time management, which she learned at Bryant, is the secret to her success, she says.
Herbert, armed with a Business Administration degree, began his career working for the New York Central Railroad.
While on the job, he impressed his contact at General Motors so much that he was invited up for an interview, and went
on to work as a traffic manager for the Chevrolet division in Tarrytown until retirement.
His “retirement” turned into opening a deli, which he operated successfully for 10 years. Herbert is also in his 60th year as a volunteer firefighter.
Both Jeanne and Herbert participated on the committees for their respective 50th reunions and are members of Bryant’s 1863 Society.
A lasting relationship with Bryant
Nevertheless, when it came time for Tyler (left) to select a college, all three Wienkoops urged him to make his own decision – despite their Bryant bias.
“He had already seen firsthand what to me is the most important part of college – the relationships that last and last,” says Jill, who grew up hearing Bryant tales (perhaps some tall ones) from her parents and their friends from college.
Similarly, Jill bonded with a few young women in her dormitory freshmen year and still meets up with them about four times a year. “Our kids grew up together.”
A formal courtship
Herbert and Jeanne met at a fraternity formal dance on a blind date. Back in the day, when the campus was on the East Side of Providence, “most everyone was part of the Greek life,” Herb remembers. He was president of Phi Kappa Tau and Jeanne was pledging the sister sorority, Alpha Phi Kappa.
Fifty-five years after they first met, Herbert sports the pin he gave Jeanne when they “went steady.” They laugh remembering a frantic dash (or two) down the streets of Providence to make curfew; on weekends, the housemothers would turn off the porch light as a warning, giving the girls 15 minutes to get back to the dorm, Jeanne recalls.
Today's campus, now in Smithfield, is "very friendly," Tyler says. "You walk around and see the same faces. Having small classes, getting to work one-on-one with the professors. – I got a better education than most,” says Tyler. He discovered his calling – and major, Environmental Science – because he “kept taking classes” with his favorite professor, Dan McNally, Ph.D. By taking winter and summer classes, he graduated in just three years. “When you get in these classes where it’s 35 [students] or less, you have to be focused on what you’re doing. You and your professors will know each other,” he adds.
Tyler has lined up a summer internship with Energize New York, a nonprofit organization helping homeowners through the energy efficiency upgrade process.