Bryant University creates Ellen Wilson Leadership Center

D. Ellen Wilson ’79 gifts $5 million to provide students a home for leadership-focused education and opportunities

Smithfield, RI, March 14, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Thanks to a generous $5 million gift from incoming Board of Trustees Chair D. Ellen Wilson 79, Bryant University will create the Ellen Wilson Leadership Center, anchored at the new Business Entrepreneurship Leadership Center.  This transformational Vision 2030 gift builds on the University’s leadership legacy and empowers all Bryant students to explore and enrich their leadership potential in impactful ways during their college experience and into their careers.  

“Bryant students show up ready to solve big problems with creative ideas, and they have the drive to turn those ideas into action,” says Wilson. “The Ellen Wilson Leadership Center will expand on the University’s top-tier academic and co-curricular offerings to propel our students to the next level, solidifying Bryant as a premier institution for educating the next generation of leaders.”   

“Ellen Wilson’s generous gift to create the Ellen Wilson Leadership Center is a testament to her strong belief in Bryant’s exceptional students and our talented faculty and staff, who live the Center’s core mission: to build extraordinary, ethical, and inclusive leaders capable of impacting the world,” says Bryant University President Ross Gittell, Ph.D. “Thank you, Ellen, for your unwavering commitment to creating pathways of opportunity for Bryant University students.”  

The Ellen Wilson Leadership Center launches this fall with the Women’s Leadership Institute, which provides a home for Bryant’s exceptional women undergraduates. The Institute serves to empower and equip Bryant’s female-identifying students with the skills, knowledge, and real-world experience they need to shatter glass ceilings, break down barriers, and change the world around them.  

“The women students at Bryant are some of the most ambitious and dedicated students I’ve met in my 20-plus years in higher ed,” says Inge-Lise Ameer, Ed.D., vice president of Student Affairs, dean of students, chief diversity officer, and executive director of Bryant’s Women’s Summit. “The Women’s Leadership Institute is the perfect place to nurture this impressive next generation of leaders. We are so grateful to Ellen Wilson for recognizing this and carving out a space for these remarkable women to excel.”   

The Ellen Wilson Leadership Fellows program also launches in fall of 2024. Each year, beginning with the Class of 2028, 20 first-year students selected as Wilson Fellows will receive a $5,000 stipend each to use over their four years at Bryant. The stipend can be used to fund leadership growth opportunities such as academic research, unpaid internships, and study abroad programs. Alumni mentors are paired with each Fellow and follow the students through their Bryant journey. All incoming first-year students are eligible for this inaugural fellowship program. 

In addition to their regular degree program, all Bryant students can pursue a Leadership Certificate via the Ellen Wilson Leadership Center. Bryant is known for producing exceptional leaders. This new certificate program will give all students an opportunity to be credentialed in leadership, making graduates more competitive in the job market, providing additional value to employers, and enhancing the University’s stellar ROI. The Leadership Certificate will be part of the Wilson Fellow curriculum.  

The Ellen Wilson Leadership Center will serve as a robust hub for groundbreaking research in leadership and management topics, including an undergraduate leadership summit and programming such as a lecture series and Leaders in Residence. 

“Leaders are not born, they are made at Bryant,” says outgoing board chair David Beirne ’85. “Ellen Wilson’s generous gift gives value to our students that extends well beyond their time at the University.”   

About Bryant University  

For over 160 years, Bryant University has been at the forefront of delivering an exceptional education with top 1% outcomes that anticipate the future and prepare students to be innovative leaders of character in a changing world. The University delivers a uniquely integrated academic and student life experience with nationally recognized academic programs at the intersection of business, liberal arts, and health and behavioral sciences. 

Located on a 428-acre contemporary campus in Smithfield, R.I., Bryant enrolls approximately 3,800 undergraduate and graduate students from 38 states and 49 countries. Bryant is recognized as a top 1% national leader in student education outcomes and ROI, and regularly receives high rankings from U.S. News and World Report, Money, Bloomberg Businessweek, Wall Street Journal, College Factual, and Barron’s.  

The Vision 2030 strategic plan sets an exciting trajectory for Bryant University. Priorities include an ecosystem of academic excellence, vibrant student life, community and belonging, and championing access and economic mobility.  


Bryant University will be home to the Ellen Wilson Leadership Center

Contact Data