Bryant University takes students’ opinions very seriously. From small matters to opinions on the strategic direction of the university, the faculty, staff and senior leadership want to listen, acknowledge, and understand the ideas that come from the student body. This past fall, seniors had the opportunity to apply to the Bryant Senior Advisory Council (BSAC). BSAC members, consisting of students and senior leadership, meet monthly to discuss student experiences at Bryant and advise leadership of potential ways to improve the University for future classes. Faculty, staff, and peers could nominate seniors for this council and 34 members were selected for the BSAC Class of 2016.
Each month the BSAC members meet to enjoy dinner and conversation. I’m honored to be part of the BSAC council and our first dinner was held at President Machtley’s house where I had the pleasure of sitting next to him during dinner. Our table had great conversation about our four years at Bryant, local restaurants we frequented, and we had a chance to listen to many of the stories that President Machtley had to share. Some of the most interesting stories were about his recent trips to the new Bryant University campus in China. Our first dinner was a great way to meet the other BSAC members (though as an engaged group of student leaders we already knew almost everyone) and understand that future dinners would have a focus topic for discussion.
Our next BSAC dinner was held right before the winter holiday at the Gulski dining hall on campus. After another delicious dinner, Dr. Saddlemire, VP of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, and Provost and Chief Academic Officer Glenn Sulmasy led a discussion on questions/comments/concerns related to student affairs for the social and academic aspects of Bryant University. This was a great opportunity to hear suggestions related to residence hall living, parking, on-campus safety, academic programs, cross-collaboration, and much more. It was great to listen to everyone’s ideas and opinions and the seniors were happy to share their ideas with the senior leadership.
Our third, and most recent BSAC dinner, was held at Tavola’s, a new local restaurant just five minutes from campus. I had the pleasure of sitting with Provost Glenn Sulmasy and five other BSAC members. We enjoyed talking about our busy semesters, job hunts or post-grad placements, and the academic environment at Bryant. We all had great things to say and the Provost was happy to hear our opinions and share great ideas that the leadership staff was already working on to address some of our concerns. One of the major topics we discussed was the annual professor evaluations distributed at the close of each semester. In the spring of 2015 this was a hot topic for Student Senate as to whether or not make these surveys public to the student body. The current decision is that the surveys will not be made public because the questions asked and responses don’t provide enough information that would reason making them public. However, the Student Senate is working with the administrators to see what other ratings/surveys can be made public to better assist students when selecting professors for courses.
We also discussed the importance of networking at our table which led to the idea of creating a LinkedIn group for the current and past Bryant University BSAC members. Selected as some of the top leaders at Bryant, we figure networking with other students with this distinction would be a great idea to keep the strong alumni networking and connection with the University. A BSAC member at our table volunteered to get this started with Provost Sulmasy and I’m looking forward to joining the group and connecting with the BSAC members of previous years.
We concluded our dinner by eating delicious desserts (cheesecake with a berry topping for me – yum!) and some great group discussion led by Michelle Cloutier, VP of Enrollment, and Chuck LoCurto, VP for Information and Chief Information Officer. Chuck explained many of the new technology advancements the University had made and the technology that would fill the new Academic Innovation Center. Students had great comments about what was working and some ideas for new technology that Chuck could research to enhance collaborative learning among students. Michelle began by reminding us what it felt like when we received the large gold envelope in the mail that turned out to be our acceptance package to the University. She then asked us to close our eyes and to think back about what was the deciding factor that made Bryant our home for these four years. After we shared those thoughts, she then asked us to share the one thing that made choosing Bryant worth it but we wouldn’t have known it at the time that we decided to be a Bulldog. For me, I thought long and hard about the question and I eventually knew my answer. As an accepted student to Bryant I had dreams and ambitions. And they were huge. Bryant attracts top leaders with potential to grow and the desire to make things happen. However, the dreams and goals I had set for myself when I was entering freshmen year are far different from the drams and goals I have as a senior – I dream bigger, I search for more, and I hold myself and my expectations to a higher standard. When I was accepted I knew Bryant would help me achieve great dreams, but I didn’t know becoming a Bulldog would make me push my dreams further and give me the confidence I need to go out and achieve them.
Being surrounded by other student leaders and the senior leadership at Bryant University is true privilege. I learn something new from different people each time we meet and more importantly I reflect on the memories I’ve made as a Bulldog.
Keep Smiling! 🙂
Emily M. Socha