New Bryant U. president discusses unique start to tenure

School Updates

SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — Bryant University’s current president began his tenure in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

In his first television interview in Rhode Island since taking the helm, Dr. Ross Gittell said he couldn’t have possibly imagined this is what his first semester would look like — but his goal for the university is unwavering.

“The real focus is something pretty simple that Bryant’s been doing for a long time,” he explained. “What do we need to do to make sure our graduates are successful and strong contributors to society?”

The president said in order to succeed this semester, he’s tapped into his decades of experience in the world of business, as well as his time serving as chancellor of New Hampshire’s community college system.

Of the utmost importance to him is having students learning in person and living on campus.

“Integrate the strong academic programming and quality of our teaching with the on-campus experience,” Gittell said. “The student advising, the clubs, the recreation … it’s really mind, body, spirit.”

Under his guidance, Bryant started the semester earlier than usual, on Aug. 25, so it would wrap up before Thanksgiving break. The university also added Saturday classes to make the abbreviated schedule work.

The school invested $7 million this academic year into coronavirus testing, according to Gittell. Students and staff were tested weekly, with some even more frequently than that.

Of the 60,000 surveillance tests taken, Bryant reported a positivity rate of 0.12%.

Gittell pointed out that the university’s rural setting and single point of entry made it easier than other institutions to contain the spread of the virus, but he said students were still doubtful they’d be able to go the whole semester without having to go remote.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Download Mobile Apps from WPRI 12
DOWNLOAD APPS NOW: Apple App Store | Google Play Store

Live Streaming Coverage for the Presidential Inauguration

  • Approx. 8 a.m. – NewsNation Live Coverage as President Trump leaves Washington
  • 9 a.m. – CBS News live coverage begins
  • 11 a.m. – NewsNation live coverage begins
  • 12 p.m.- Joe Biden sworn in as the 46th President of the United States
  • TBD – Inauguration parade
  • 8:30 p.m. – “Celebrating America” primetime special

Click here for a complete list of Inauguration ceremonies.



Dan Yorke State of Mind: Dan's Daily Update

DYSOM 1/14/2021: Richard Arenberg, Interim Director of the Taubman Center, Brown University

More Dan Yorke State of Mind

Don't Miss

Viewer Pa on


More Live Cams

Community Events & Happenings

More Community