Published 09/03/13

Opening Convocation welcomes Class of 2017 into the fold

Opening Convocation September 2013 At Opening Convocation Sept. 4, Bryant officially welcomed its 154 th entering class into a student body that hails from 33 states and 85 countries. The 912 first-year students represent one of the largest and most highly qualified groups in the University’s history. Ninety-five transfer students also became part of the Bryant family.

Nearly half of the class applied Early Action or Early Decision – in fact, the number of Early Action students is greater than the number of Regular Decision Students.

"If you don’t spend a fair amount of time with your nose to the grindstone, your passion is hard to achieve."

More than 18 percent of first-year students are Exploratory and have not yet decided upon a major. For these students Bryant now offers MyPath@Bryant -- a partnership between the award-winning Amica Center for Career Education and the Undergraduate Advising Office that provides resources and programming to assist Exploratory students in making decisions about their area of study and career choice.

Characteristics of the Class of 2017

  • 20 class presidents, 245 captains of at least one sport, seven Eagle Scouts, and one Girl Scout Gold Award recipient
  • Work experience that includes park ranger, school webmaster, IT manager for a Toyota dealership, fencing instructor, lobsterman, bee keeper, and professional model
  • Entrepreneurs with a variety of businesses ranging from disc jockey to dog sitting to photography
  • Creatively gifted students in art, music, theater, and dance, with at least nine musicians who held first-chair positions in an orchestra
  • A student who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, another who is learning to fly a plane, a title-winning amateur golfer, an author of two books, and at least 10 black belts in the martial arts
  • 68 percent of the class has engaged in making the world a better place through volunteer service.

Perspectives on character

Character Award winner 2013 Kayleigh Ballantyne '14, with her father after receiving the award

In his remarks to the class, Bryant University President Ronald K. Machtley discussed the values, goals, and aspirations shared by the Bryant community:

- Character, which is "at the heart of a Bryant education. ... We know it when we see it."
- Justice, "the universal golden rule."
- Moderation. "As a nation, we eat too much ... and sleep too little."
- Courage and the ability to confront the unknown. In recognition of these qualities, President Machtley presented this year's Bryant University Distinguished Character Award to Kayleigh Ballantyne '14, of Gorham, ME, who in late July was stabbed fighting back against an attacker in South Boston.

Plenary session: Find the balance

Plenary Speaker Paola Rivoli “The world was changing much too fast to pin down a certain vocational skill and hope that skill would take care of you,” said Pietra Rivoli, Ph.D. (left), professor of finance and international business at Georgetown University.

 Rivoli addressed the Class of 2017 as the plenary speaker of Convocation.  Balance is key, she stressed, be it between reason and passion or economics and ethics.

“My ‘reasonable side’ backfired. I was trying so hard to play it safe; instead I had exposed myself to all kinds of risk,” she said of the three years she spent learning to type.

Rivoli changed course, becoming a business professor and eventually, author of the award-winning book “The Travels of a T-shirt in a Global Economy” which freshmen will read in the Global Foundations of Character and Leadership class – part of Bryant’s nationally recognized First-Year Gateway program designed to arm students with key skills – writing proficiency, critical thinking, cultural awareness, and ethical reasoning.

Inspired by a $6 T-shirt she bought on a Florida beach, Rivoli endeavored to track the clothing’s origins, which, she discovered, spanned three continents and three global industries. The work not only fulfilled her professional aspirations but her “passion” side as well – a lifelong dream of travel.

“If you don’t spend a fair amount of time with your nose to the grindstone, your passion is hard to achieve. I wouldn’t have had the analytical skills [or the] intellectual preparation to write this book. Nobody would have had any reason to listen,” she said.

“Everywhere on the map, economic decisions introduce ethical questions,” Rivoli said. “You need to keep in mind the balance. Give respect to both.”

MULTIMEDIA: Video of entire Opening Convocation ceremony; video highlights of Opening Convocation procession ; video of entire Rivoli presentation ; interactive panorama of Opening Convocation