Published 12/12/13

Philanthropy: Giving at leadership levels

Excerpted from the Fall 2013 Bryant magazine

Private philanthropy is the paramount factor contributing to Bryant’s evolution over the past 150 years from a humble commuter college to a nationally recognized university.

Indeed, the Smithfield campus exists because in 1967, former Tupperware Corporation President Earl Tupper donated his 220-acre farm. Though Tupper had no direct connection to Bryant, he was impressed with its philosophy of helping every student get a job.

If Tupper’s was the first significant gift in subsequent years, Bryant’s alumni, friends, students, and corporate and foundation donors built a culture of philanthropy on the foundation he laid decades ago.

Trustees: Raising the bar

Lacrosse Locker roomIntegral to promoting this philanthropic environment are current and former Bryant trustees, who have provided leadership support to Bryant for decades. Evidence of their largesse became increasingly apparent 12 years ago when Bryant launched The Campaign for Bryant, a $35 million capital campaign. Its successful culmination in 2004, raising more than $40 million, elevated Bryant’s ability to offer more scholarships, expand academic programming and build new facilities, but it did not signal the end of leadership giving. Bryant’s supporters—so impressed with Bryant’s success—are maintaining the momentum with major gift contributions.

  • In 2008, Trustee David Beirne ’85 made a leadership gift of $1 million that helped provide for the $2.7 million renovation and expansion that included new locker rooms (left) at Bulldog Stadium.
  • John Joyce ’53 who received a small, partial scholarship, remembered how that assistance helped him bridge a gap between earnings from his job at a produce store and tuition. “When I left Bryant, I was ahead of graduates from other schools. The instruction I received was first rate,” said Joyce. In gratitude, he established a charitable gift annuity, which will endow a scholarship for accounting or finance students with significant financial need.
  • Board Chairman Michael E. Fisher ’67 and his wife, Karen , recently committed $3 million to fund the Karen L. and Michael E. Fisher Scholarship for Athletic and Academic Excellence. “We’re just honored to be a part of Bryant,” he said recently, adding that he is indebted to the institution that catapulted his distinguished financial services career that included executive positions at Barclays Global Investors.
  • Similarly, Trustee Robert Brown ’86 cites Bryant as a defining force in his life. “Bryant provided me with a strong foundation that taught me how to learn. That inspired confidence in my skills and capabilities, all of which allowed me to build a successful career.” In appreciation, Brown, president of the Bond Division for Fidelity Investments, recently donated one of the largest gifts in Bryant’s history “to build facilities that are best in class and inspire prospective and current students to excel at Bryant and beyond.”

It takes a village

Such generosity represents confidence in Bryant’s ability to achieve new levels of excellence.

Sharing that conviction are numerous corporations and foundations—vital partners in helping Bryant strengthen its marketplace position, attract tomorrow’s leaders and remain academically vigorous.

  • Among several initiatives supported by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the global firm specializing in audit and assurance, tax, and consulting services, is the PricewaterhouseCoopers Accounting Careers Leadership Institute (PwCACLI). It opens a world of opportunity for multicultural students and introduces them to accounting careers. The institute tracks the participants’ performance and their future enrollment at Bryant, as PwC uses PwCACLI as a source of students for internships and future employment.
  • Helping Bryant students prepare for the future is Santander Bank , which supports the Sophomore International Experience that provides students the opportunity to participate in international study. More than 1,300 students have studied throughout Asia, Australia and Europe since 2007.
  • The Amica Companies Foundation —the charitable arm of insurance giant Amica—partners with Bryant to help students achieve a competitive advantage in the job market. Students turn to the award-winning Amica Center for Career Education annually for assistance writing résumés and preparing for interviews through Amica-sponsored programs.
  • The Fidelity Foundations’ generous participation in Bryant’s first capital campaign through its corporate foundation assisted with the functional planning for the library , and the construction of  the George E. Bello Center for Information and Technology. In addition, Fidelity Investments has helped the University advance its finance and financial services programs of study.

Taking note of leadership examples

When assessing their time at Bryant, students realize that many of the opportunities and experiences available to them were made possible through a multitude of philanthropic donations.

These treasures inspire students to reciprocate before walking through the Archway for the first time on Commencement Day. Each year, the senior class donates funds that benefit the Bryant community. In fact, the Class of 1968 funded the Archway’s relocation to Smithfield in 1971, and the Class of 2008 raised more than $30,000 to restore it.

The total dollars raised and the participation rate for senior class giving have risen dramatically in the past five years.

In 2012, 56 percent of graduates raised a record-breaking $60,000 for an endowed scholarship that will provide tuition assistance annually to students beginning in 2017. This year’s graduates aim to improve upon their predecessors and are diligently raising money for an endowed study abroad scholarship to be awarded annually beginning in 2016.