It is not every day that an educational institution can celebrate a 150th birthday. Bryant University is lucky enough to be celebrating their 150th year this year with a multitude of events and activities that all started at the kickoff on Friday in the Rotunda. President Machtley, along with other speakers including Michael Fisher ‘67, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Governor Lincoln Chafee, and Congressman David Cicilline all commended Bryant on its spectacular first 150 years of educating students. Governor Chafee even said that the best years, in his opinion, have been the 17 years that President and Mrs. Machtley have been here.
President Machtley thanked the many different parties that were present for the kickoff and also mentioned the faculty and their ever evolving, nationally recognized, curriculum. He also went on to remark about Bryant’s focus on an innovative education and a future-focused program for students. The stunning part of what President Machtley said was in the numbers. Only 178 colleges and universities in the US have reached the prestigious anniversary of 150 years as an educational institution. That is a mere four percent!
Chairman Michael Fisher ‘67 spoke about how lucky we are as students, faculty, and staff to be present at Bryant during this great milestone and accomplishment. He also gave us all a brief history of Bryant’s beginnings. The two founders of Bryant, Henry Bryant and Henry Stratton, founded the original campus in Providence in 1853. Michael Fisher ’67 also noted that if the two founders could see Bryant now in all of its glory, they would be shocked and amazed at how far it has come. He went on to say that he hopes to be able to join us as a community for the many events that are to follow the kickoff throughout the year.
Shortly after Chairman Fisher finished speaking, the 150th Anniversary banner was unveiled to the kickoff attendees.
As the curtains were pulled back, slowly revealing bits and pieces of the banner, ‘oos’ and ‘ahhs’ could be heard throughout the Rotunda. Many people who were featured on the banner were present for the unveiling, such as Professor Gainor and Professor Barrett-Litoff. Many students are also featured on the banner, but mysteriously enough, Tupper’s picture, which is usually visible everywhere on campus and on every social media outlet, was not displayed on the banner.
As the ceremony came to a close the 150th year celebration pins were distributed to anyone who wanted one. There was also a very large cake made by a Sodexho baker from Pennsylvania. Each member of the administration took the opportunity to cut the cake and pose for a multitude of pictures together. The cake was designed to look like the front entrance to campus, complete with the globe.
Bryant University has come so far in 150 years: The new campus in Smithfield, the opening of the Pride Center, President Machtley’s Vision 2020 plan, and many other aspects of our growing community. Each student, faculty, staff, trustee, and alumni have their own stories of how the campus has changed over the years. All of those things we would never have the privilege of knowing without reflecting on our history in order to make a better future.
President Machtley’s plan for the future which includes having 20% international students by the year 2020 is one of the facets of our growth. The diversity that we are lucky enough to have on our campus, not just in race or ethnicity but also in gender, orientation, major, interests, etc., is a large part of what makes our campus different and a great place to receive an education. The rest of the 150th year in Bryant’s history can only hold more fantastic events like
the kickoff. Thank you to those of you who had a large part in the planning of the kickoff; it was a great to see the Rotunda filled for such an amazing event in Bryant’s history. We are all truly lucky to be able to be a part of the 150th year at Bryant University.