September 7, 2021
Today we begin Bryant’s 159th academic year and mark the 50th anniversary of Bryant’s transformational move from Providence to Smithfield. That physical move a half century ago was a bold step that allowed Bryant College to grow to the University we are proud of today. Our plans for the year ahead, including Vision 2030 Strategic Planning activities, will help set Bryant’s trajectory for heightened relevance and prominence over the next 50 years and beyond.
In the past week, more than 3,000 talented graduate and undergraduate students traveled to campus from across the country and around the world. Wherever you go across campus, you can feel the energy and strong spirit of Bryant’s community. On Monday, it was my pleasure to host our approximately 750 new first-year students (including both freshmen and transfers) for lunch on the back lawn of the Callahan House and welcome them to Bryant University. I look forward to recognizing them at Convocation held outdoors on September 22.
I want to recognize the resilience and innovation of the Bryant community. The core traits that have served us well during the pandemic will be increasingly valuable as we focus on the future. Last year, the entire Bryant community worked together in prioritizing health and safety while maintaining the high quality and integrity of our academic programs and student experience. We will do so again this year thanks to the dedication of all of you.
Key areas of focus for the fall semester and academic year ahead include:
STRATEGIC PLANNING: Vision 2030 Strategic Planning activities will continue this fall, including work by the Academic Affairs Task Force for Higher Education in the 21st Century and targeted discussions of emerging themes with work teams. Our strategic planning schedule will also include group discussion of strategies with students, faculty and staff; open forums and community presentations; and discussion with the Bryant University Board of Trustees in January 2022.
PROVOST SEARCH: The search for Bryant’s next Provost and Chief Academic Officer provides us with the opportunity to further strengthen our academic prominence and leadership team. I am grateful for the important work of our search committee this summer. Their work and engagement over the next months will increase, including over the next several weeks when there will be opportunities for broad participation in community listening sessions.
DEI AND BELONGING AT BRYANT: In addition to the priority given to diversity, equity, and inclusion within the context of strategic planning and curriculum considerations of the Task Force for Higher Education in the 21st Century, our work in these important areas has immediate priority too. Please plan to participate in Bryant’s second Day of Understanding on October 7.
COMMUNICATIONS: Every week at Bryant there are examples of academic excellence and student success, events to celebrate and those to look forward to, and updates on important initiatives. To help everyone stay informed, this Friday we will launch a weekly compendium email newsletter.
CAMPUS HEALTH AND SAFETY: Thank you for your cooperation with our vaccine and indoor masking policies. Bryant has a full population vaccine rate of nearly 95%, which makes us hopeful that we will not see the spread of serious illness on campus this fall. As previously announced, an added layer of our plan to mitigate the impact of the virus is weekly campus testing for those who are unvaccinated, and we are providing this for students and employees at no charge. We continue to monitor the changing context of COVID-19 and variants, following best practices in higher education and guidance from the RI Department of Health. Once we assess our experience in the first full week with everyone on campus, we will provide information on policies extending beyond RI’s State of Emergency through Sept. 18.
The fall is always an exciting and special time of year on a college campus. This is true this fall at Bryant, even with the challenges and concerns related to the global pandemic and world affairs. A Bryant education is more relevant today than it has ever been. There is strong dedication and will across our community to ensure that Bryant continues to provide our students with an outstanding educational experience that prepares them for success in an increasingly complex and challenging world.
Thank you for your collective commitment and many contributions to advancing our mission. I appreciate your support as I begin this second year of my Bryant presidency.
President Ross Gittell, Ph.D.