Published 10/23/12

$1 million gift supports Institute for Public Leadership

SMITHFIELD, R.I.  – Bryant University President Ronald K. Machtley and Alan G. Hassenfeld, chairman of the Executive Committee of Hasbro, Inc., the Rhode Island-based multibillion-dollar international toy company, today announced that Hassenfeld Family Initiatives, LLC, has donated $1 million to the University to support the work of the Bryant Institute for Public Leadership. In recognition of the gift, the University has renamed the center the Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership.

“President Machtley, ... Bryant’s faculty and the Institute’s founding director ... have created a world-class program that can make a tremendous difference in Rhode Island’s future.”

Alan G. Hassenfeld

The announcement was made at the outset of  “Public Leadership: Governing and the Art of the Possible,” a conference sponsored by the Institute that drew approximately 150 municipal leaders from throughout Rhode Island to the Bryant campus.

Since it opened in December 2010, the Institute has focused on its mission of offering world-class leadership programs to public officials and others involved in the development, management, and implementation of public policy. Its sessions draw upon the renowned expertise of Bryant’s faculty in leadership, management, political science, and economics.

“The Institute is a perfect fit for Bryant,” said Hassenfeld, a past Bryant Trustee and 1985 honorary degree recipient. “President Machtley, who has served in Congress, understands the pressing need for ethical, effective leadership. Bryant’s faculty and the Institute’s founding director, Gary Sasse, have created a world-class program that can make a tremendous difference in Rhode Island’s future.”

 “The need for a program like this in Rhode Island is critical,” said President Machtley. “The Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership is just one example of the University’s vision of fostering character and leadership – not only among our students, alumni, and faculty, but within the State of Rhode Island as well. Bryant offers the Institute’s programs and expertise in service to Rhode Island’s cities and towns. We are grateful to have Alan and Hassenfeld Family Initiatives as partners in this endeavor.”

According to President Machtley, Hassenfeld was the visionary behind the creation of the Institute. The idea has its roots in a program run by Hassenfeld Family Initiatives that underwrites scholarships for Rhode Island leaders to attend sessions at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. The program proved beneficial to the handful of Rhode Islanders who attended, Hassenfeld said, but “I couldn’t afford to send all of Rhode Island’s public servants to the Kennedy School.”

So Hassenfeld approached President Machtley with a proposal to create a version of the Kennedy School program in Rhode Island. “Over the past two decades, I’ve watched Bryant transition from a good school to a great university, and much of that is due to President Machtley’s leadership,” Hassenfeld said. “I knew that if I was going to do a version of the Kennedy School program in Rhode Island, I wanted it to be with Bryant.”

The proposal gained the President’s immediate support. The Institute offered its inaugural program in December 2010 to the incoming staff of the mayors-elect of Providence and Pawtucket. It has since offered four additional programs (including today’s conference).