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Centennial Celebration


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My Bentley Story by Gloria Larson

I’m not anyone’s version of a traditional college president. But in 2007, I jumped at the incredible opportunity to become Bentley University’s 7th President, and the first woman to lead the institution. Higher education and academia were an unexpected career turn for me—after all, I had spent my entire career in law and public policy, working in federal and state government posts, and later as a partner at a Boston law firm. But I came to Bentley inspired by the opportunity to work with, and ultimately learn from, a generation of students at a moment in time unlike almost any other in history.

In 2006, I had just finished reading Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat on a recruiting trip to University of Virginia Law School. I was blown away by the students I met—they were smart, articulate and sophisticated, but they were also committed to making the world a better place. It reminded me of a key passage from Friedman’s book where he says, as the world is being flattened, more than anything else, this next generation will need “the right imagination and the right motivation” to succeed. I knew then that this was the generation of young people I wanted to work with, somehow, some way.

What makes Bentley so unique—and the reason I fell in love with this university—is the combination of the exceptional students and alumni, and the innovative educational practice of fusion led by our talented faculty.

In my tenure at Bentley, the students have exceeded my already high expectations of Millennials through their dedication, their wits, and their imagination. I have found students at Bentley to be unusually motivated and prepared beyond their years to take on the world that awaits them when they graduate. Bentley students arrive already highly focused—they know they want to do something important, whether that be directly in the business world or in another passion they plan to pursue, armed with the critical business and lifelong learning skills that will make them stand out.

Most admirably, in addition to being smart, clever, and business savvy, Bentley students and alumni are uncharacteristically upbeat and enthusiastic. I think this comes from knowing that they have a clear sense of where they are going and that this pathway will lead them to being both great corporate citizens and great citizens of the world. Profits, yes, but always with people and planet equally in mind. Unlike many of their peers, Bentley students enter the world armed with “left brain” quantitative and analytical skills needed for balance sheets and technology, coupled with “right brain” qualities of inventiveness, empathy, joyfulness and meaning. The emphasis on this distinctive combination is the brilliance of Bentley.

The examples of our successful, imaginative students and alumni are endless.  By combining their cutting edge education with their passions and skill sets, Bentley graduates are changing the world. A recent graduate was perfectly suited to develop a business plan for a growing solar power company after majoring in Economics and Finance with a Liberal Studies Major in Earth Environment and Global Sustainability. In selecting a Public Policy major matched with our Business Studies Major, another Bentley grad is helping to change the way US presidential campaigns manage campaign finance. And one of my favorite combinations, Accounting and Ethics and Corporate Responsibility, is a skill set that companies everywhere are searching for in next generation business leaders.

I could go on and on about our students and alumni. And so many of their stories will be front and center here on over the next year. I look forward to reading more accounts of what others found so special about Bentley and why this institution matters to so many of us.

As Bentley’s president, what I’ve experienced is an incredibly satisfying tenure surrounded by creative, optimistic doers and thinkers. It is my hope and belief that all members of the Bentley community will take their positive energy and apply it to the world in their own unique way.




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