Monday, April 16, 2018

Why Bryant?

Bryant University's Academic Innovation Center
As high school seniors make their college decisions this month, I thought that I would offer my perspective on why Bryant University is a terrific choice for young people.   I've been a faculty member at Bryant for twelve years now, and I truly love the community.   Here are my top ten reasons why students should choose Bryant:

1.  Outcomes!  Students at Bryant University achieve very successful outcomes at the end of their four years here, no matter the way you measure results.   If you would like to measure learning outcomes, then consider the student performance on the Educational Testing Service's Major Field Test in Business.  Our mean student performance ranks ahead of 90% of the institutions that administer this exam to graduating seniors. As for job placement, our students secure terrific jobs and earn strong salaries. The federal government’s College Scorecard ranks our institution very high in return on investment among peers (including top school in Rhode Island).   Money magazine ranked us as one of the top 50 colleges in the nation that add the most value.  Finally, in terms of graduate school placement, our students have gained admission in the past few years to prestigious graduate schools including MIT, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, University of Chicago, UVA, Yale, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Emory, NYU and many more.  

2.  Competitive Success:  Our students participate regularly in academic competitions around the country, and they have excelled.   They have routinely outperformed students at much larger universities.  Our students have won the National Financial Plan competition twice in recent years, and we have a finalist again this year.   Our Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization has earned Best Chapter in the nation on five occasions over the past eleven years. A Bryant team won first place in the Asset Management Case Competition in Boston this month.  Our finance students took home first place this winter in the multi-asset category at the GAME financial forum on Wall Street.  Our teams also have earned a top 10 finish in the National Collegiate Sales Competition and made the finals of the PwC xTax competition.   At the Federal Reserve Challenge this year in Boston, our students earned second place, finishing ahead of teams from Yale, Dartmouth, Boston College, Bentley, and many others.  

3.  Hands-on, Experiential Learning:  Our students do not simply sit and listen to lectures and memorize facts from textbooks.  Bryant has pioneered many forms of experiential learning.  Our students complete many projects for companies over the course of four years here, gaining critical practical experience on issues ranging from logistics to marketing to international business.   Many employers cite this practical hands-on experience as a critical differentiator for our students.  We also have teams of students dedicated to investing more than $1 million of Bryant funds in both equities and fixed income securities, providing them valuable practical experience.  Many schools have equity investment funds, but few have also developed opportunities for students to gain experience with fixed income investing.  

4.  Innovation:  Bryant University became a national pioneer when it created the first-ever design thinking program for all first-year students (the IDEA program).   All students at Bryant, regardless of their major, are introduced to this highly effective creative problem-solving methodology in a hands-on, immersive program during their first year.   Bryant also pioneered the use of upperclassmen as mentors to the first-year students in this program, and we have involved 150-200 alumni in this program each year as mentors and judges.    We like to say that we teach innovation here at Bryant AND we teach innovatively.  We have dedicated ourselves to finding new and creative ways to teach and learn on campus, with faculty constantly experimenting with new methods and techniques.  

5.  Faculty Achievement and Expertise:  Our faculty do not simply sit in the ivory tower pondering big ideas.  Most of our business faculty have practical experience in the private sector prior to becoming academics, and they continue to gain important knowledge through their consulting work with many organizations.   Our  full-time faculty includes a former managing director at Putnam Investments, a former senior economist at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the former Chief Analytics Officer at Epsilon, a retired partner from KPMG, a former US Air Force logistics officer, a former Senior Deputy Director at the the US Treasury's Office of Thrift Supervision, and many more individuals with valuable real world expertise.  Moreover, our faculty have assembled impressive scholarly records with research publications in leading journals.   We have a number of Fulbright scholars on our faculty, and professors such as Ken Sousa and Charles Quigley have published popular textbooks.  

6.  Leadership Opportunities:  We provide our students with a variety of leadership opportunities here on campus.  As a result, they develop their leadership capabilities in many ways beyond the classroom. We give them the freedom to pursue their interests and take the initiative to create amazing new experiences.  For instance, our students created and organized our first-ever TEDx Bryant conference.   They also put together the Bryant University Northeast Entrepreneurship Conference completely on their own.  Our students take on critical leadership roles in our IDEA program, serving as mentors to first-year students and helping to organize the entire program.  

7.   Student Research:  Our students have the opportunity to collaborate closely with faculty members on research projects, with conference presentations and publications resulting from some of this work.  For instance, our Honors students produce theses during their senior year, and a number of students have published their work.  For example, one thesis led to a published case study about startup accelerators, while another published a journal article about the efficacy of the devil's advocate in team decision making.  

8.   Mentorship:  Our faculty members teach small classes, and we get to know the students very well.  As a result, we spend a great deal of time mentoring our students, helping them discern their career path, and assisting in the job search process.  Many firms reach out to our faculty when they have specific hiring needs, and we are able to direct these companies to specific students with the knowledge that they need.  Our faculty don't just spend time with students in the classroom or at office hours.  In our small, close-knit community, we interact with students in many ways beyond the classroom, forming relationships that last a lifetime.  

9.  Service:  Our students engage in service in a variety of ways.  They organize the Special Olympics on campus, put together an impressive Relay for Life event each year, and raise funds for a wide variety of organizations.  However, they do not just volunteer their time. We have ample opportunities in the curriculum where students engage in service learning.  Thus, they explore interesting intellectual questions in class, and they apply their knowledge through work in the field with non-profit organizations.  Bryant is one of the only schools where every student in the core required management course must complete a service learning project of their choosing. 

10.  Global Perspective:   We have infused a global perspective throughout the university.  Our students can not only study abroad, but also pursue internships in foreign countries while they are studying abroad.  Our international business students also work on consulting projects where they help local companies expand their global footprint.   We have many students pursuing minors in foreign languages, giving them an enhanced ability to work in international settings.  We have hired faculty with expertise in emerging markets around the world.  Finally, our Chafee Center for International Business serves several hundred local companies each year, providing export assistance, training, and the like.  The center provides our students with opportunities to work on campus, gaining valuable research and consulting experience.  

As you can see, Bryant University has much to offer, thanks in large part to many faculty members who are passionate about their vocation and who are care deeply about their students.  I hope that this brief essay has been helpful as students consider their college choices this April.  Good luck, everyone! 

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