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Planning for the Bentley Centennial
This article originally appeared in the Bentley Magazine.
Bentley University (nee The Bentley School of Accounting and Finance) turns 100 years old in 2017. The Centennial Steering Committee is leading a large contingent of faculty, staff, students and alumni in planning the festivities, which unfold over nine months starting in September 2016. Meet committee chairman George Fantini ’64 and member Kaitlyn Lijoi ’17, who bring different experiences, but shared enthusiasm, to the task.
What’s it like to be involved in centennial planning?
Kaitlyn Lijoi: Ever since President Larson mentioned [at Opening Convocation] that we are Bentley’s 100th class and there would be a huge celebration, we’ve all been waiting to hear more. Serving on the committee as the representative of the centennial class, my goal is to take ideas I’ve heard and bring them to the table; I want to honestly represent my classmates. Speaking personally, it has been humbling to hear about what alumni have accomplished — both at Bentley and for Bentley.
"Since Pres Larson mentioned that we are Bentley’s 100th class, we’ve all been waiting to hear more"TWEET THIS
What is the role of the committee?
George Fantini: Our members represent the entire Bentley community: students, faculty, staff and alumni. Our focus is to shape a celebration that will recount Bentley’s remarkable history and bring together all the different segments and classes. The interaction of committee members really energizes us — different age groups, backgrounds and ideas. It has been interesting to “look under the hood” of Bentley and understand all the moving parts.
What are some notable aspects of planning?
KL: It has been fun getting to know more people on campus, particularly those who are more behind-the-scenes when it comes to making sure Bentley runs smoothly. I like coming up with creative ideas; the challenging part is developing a plan that works universally. Who will want to come? Who will be able to come? Will they enjoy it?
GF: A 100-year celebration doesn’t come along very often. We feel like orchestra leaders trying to blend and capture everybody’s insights so the performance is memorable. We would love to hear ideas from readers. Programming is in the formative stage, so the committee is very open-minded.
Are there elements of the celebration you’re particularly excited about?
GF: It’s the combination of all the events that will make this special. We feel strongly about reaching out to all class years, including people who haven’t been on campus for a long time. In addition to forming subcommittees, we’re naming 100 Centennial Ambassadors who represent each decade, which will add another dimension to our planning.
What should others know about the centennial at this point?
KL: We want to gather all the history we can about the school, because there is so much that remains untold. We’re looking for personal stories, which are the most interesting ones, in order to effectively celebrate what Bentley has become. The university is successful because of what our alumni have accomplished; they’ve contributed so much to its reputation. I want to acknowledge that by inviting them to join in the celebration as much as possible and share their own Bentley stories.
Speaking of Bentley stories, what are your memorable ones?
GF: I saw a lot of changes while attending Bentley. The Bentley School of Accounting and Finance transitioned from a two-year to a four-year school — the Class of 1964 was the first to graduate with a four-year degree — and the name changed to Bentley College. I also remember my commute from Cambridge to Boylston Street on a bus from Harvard Square. A lot of mornings, I would be doing my homework and [former chancellor and president emeritus] Greg Adamian would be sitting across the aisle correcting papers. I got the chance to know him fairly well.
KL: When I visited campus for Open House, the first thing I noticed was that everyone was smiling. It wasn’t just Bentley’s reputation, it was the people that attracted me. Freshman year, I lived on the wellness floor and we all bonded so well that we hold the same friendships to this day. Also, when the Red Sox, Patriots or our own women’s basketball team won a championship, everyone instinctively knew to gather on the green space to celebrate; even the police officers were excited about the victory. I’m inspired to do as much as I can to make sure that all of our legacies last — along with the legacy of the university.
About the Participants:
George Fantini ’64
Attended Bentley more than 50 years ago; aced a challenging entrance exam and waited, in person, for the results; commuted to classes on Boylston Street in Boston; rolled with the bowling team.
Kaitlyn Lijoi ’17
Set to graduate in 2017; enrolled at Bentley after a months-long process that included an online application; lives on a classic New England campus in Waltham; throws the disc in Ultimate Frisbee.
Join in on the Centennial festivities by sharing your favorite Bentley memory. Share your story here.
Bentley was also named No. 1 for Highest Freshman Retention Rate, No. 3 for Most Innovative Schools and No. 4 for Best Undergraduate Teaching among the regional universities in the “2019 Best Colleges” report.