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 A beacon of innovation: PC breaks ground on new School of Business

A beacon of innovation: PC breaks ground on new School of Business

​Providence College officially broke ground Friday, Oct. 2, on the Arthur F. and Patricia Ryan Center for Business Studies, the new home for PC’s School of Business.

The ceremony was held in the Ryan Concert Hall in the Smith Center for the Arts — a hall also named for the the Ryans, who pledged $1 million for construction of the Smith Center in 2005.

Wearing white hard hats and holding shiny silver shovels with black and white bows on the handles, Arthur F. Ryan ’63 & ’90Hon. and 13 other dignitaries scooped dirt from a row arrayed neatly on a green carpet on the stage. (The ceremony was moved indoors because of inclement weather.)  The group included College administrators and benefactors. (Pictured above, from left, are John F. Killian '77, chair of the Board of Trustees; Very Rev. Kenneth Letoile, O.P. '70, prior provincial of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph and chair of the Providence College Corporation; College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. '80; Arthur F. Ryan '63; Dr. Sylvia Maxfield, dean of the School of Business; and Rev. Kenneth Sicard, O.P. '78 & '82G, College executive vice president and treasurer.)  

Speaking to an audience of students, faculty, staff, and trustees, College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80 called the new building “a quantum leap forward for business education at Providence College.”

At PC, Father Shanley said, “You’re going to get a great business education from a terrific faculty, but you’re also going to get a liberal arts education. You’re going to have both sides — business expertise, and the kind of mind and heart that comes from the liberal arts.”

Having the Ryan name on the building is important, not only because of Arthur Ryan’s success in business as chairman and chief executive officer of Prudential Financial, Inc., but because of his role as a husband and father, and the couple’s impact on Newark, N.J., which has benefited from their philanthropy, Father Shanley said.

“I want our students to know that Providence College is the kind of institution that educates men like Art,” said Father Shanley. “It’s the quality of his life as a whole that I want our students to see and to emulate. I want our students to think, ‘I can lead a life like Art Ryan. I can make that difference in the world, and I can make that difference in a community.’”

School of Business Dean Dr. Sylvia Maxfield said she was “absolutely overjoyed” to celebrate the groundbreaking.

Maxfield said the Ryans “have modeled their lives on values the School of Business shares — our belief in the transformative power of business, and also our belief in the importance of this campus’ tradition of service, ethical responsibility, and respect for the dignity of all people.”

“Our faculty include almost a dozen new tenure-stream faculty hired in the past three years who accepted the call to become part of the Friar family because our values are compelling and the trajectory is exciting,” said Maxfield. “Together with our veteran tenure and practitioner faculty, we have shown we can build on the best of our past as we embrace innovation and continuous improvement.”

Attending the ceremony were U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I.; R.I. Lt. Gov. Daniel J. McKee; R.I. Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin; state Rep. Stephen R. Ucci ’93; state Sen. Ryan W. Pearson ’10; City Councilman David A. Salvatore; and City Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan ’81 & '01G. Very Rev. Kenneth R. Letoile, O.P. ’70 attended as prior provincial of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph and chair of the Providence College Corporation.

The Ryans gave the lead gift of $5 million for the building. Also recognized for their gifts to the business school were Robert J. Palmisano ’66 and his wife, Jane; Kevin C. Phelan ’66 & ’15Hon. and his wife, Anne; and Edward L. Scanlon ’55 & ’00Hon. and his wife, Andrée; along with corporate donors Deloitte Foundation, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The Arthur F. and Patricia Ryan for Business Studies will be built at the site of the former Dore Hall, a longtime residence hall that was acquired by the College in 
1974 as part of the Charles V. Chapin Hospital property, once owned by the City of Providence. When complete, the Ryan Center will serve as a central academic and social location for students and faculty at the heart of campus. It will feature a two-story glass atrium for planned and impromptu meetings. The center will include a 125-seat conference room, a learning laboratory with Bloomberg terminals to allow student investors to track the markets in real time, and classrooms designed to encourage hands-on learning, mentoring, and innovation.

The 75,000-square-foot structure was designed by Symmes Maini & McKee Associates of Cambridge, Mass., and will be built by Dimeo Construction Co. of Providence. It is expected to open in early 2017.

The School of Business, which was established in 2007, was accredited in 2012 by AACSB International, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. It offers undergraduate programs in accountancy, finance, marketing, and management, and a graduate MBA Program. About a third of PC undergraduates major in business. Liberal arts is an essential part of the curriculum, with business professors, including Maxfield, teaching in the College’s signature Development of Western Civilization Program.

Ryan earned a mathematics degree from PC in 1963 and was awarded an honorary doctor of business administration degree in 1990.

Following his PC graduation, Ryan worked in the computer industry before joining Chase Manhattan Bank, where he rose from project manager in data processing to president and chief operating officer during a 22-year career. When he joined Prudential Insurance Co. of America in 1994, he was the first chairman and CEO elected from outside the company. He oversaw its transition from a mutual company to a publicly traded company known as Prudential Financial. He retired in 2008.

In addition to his many volunteer roles on behalf of PC, Ryan served on the Board of Trustees from 1995-2011. The Ryans are Platinum Torchbearers in the 1917 Society, a designation reserved for those who have donated more than $1 million to the College. Earlier, they established the Arthur F. Ryan Family Scholarship Fund, which allows needy students from Suffolk County, N.Y., where Arthur Ryan grew up, to study business at PC.

The Ryans have been especially generous to the state of New Jersey, where Prudential Financial is located. They financially supported the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, where the upper rotunda is named The Ryan Gallery, and educational causes. Mrs. Ryan served as co-chair of the Branch Brook Park Alliance in Newark. In appreciation for the couple’s efforts, two lion statues at the park were dedicated to them.

The Ryans have four children, including Arthur W. Ryan ’89, and seven grandchildren. They reside in Vero Beach, Fla. 

Read other news reports on the groundbreaking:

Providence Journal

NBC10 News​​


American School and University​


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