Prior to the start of the fall semester, the Provost’s office announced plans to raise the GPA required to raise the Dean’s List GPA requirement from 3.2 to 3.4. As of now, the change will go into effect for all classes.
This move reflects a distinct shift in the academic atmosphere of Bryant. The University is gaining national recognition, consistently rising in college rankings, and is bringing in increasingly competitive admission classes. The recent opening of the Academic Innovation Center, newly introduced degree programs, in fields like data science, and the new Faculty Without Borders initiative, all signal the University is making strides to improve the University’s academics.
President Machtley, Provost Sulmasy, and all faculty members who have played a part in these strides deserve tremendous credit. Thanks to these changes, Bryant now offers many more academic resources to the student body, allowing our students many of the same opportunities that our larger counterparts can provide. Yet in making these changes, the Bryant hasn’t compromised the small, community-based environment that makes the University unique.
In making these changes, it became increasingly evident that our current GPA requirement to make the Dean’s List simply wasn’t reflective of our school’s academic rigor and excellence. Virtually every one of our competitors requires more than a 3.2 GPA to make the Dean’s List. At 3.2, our Dean’s List requirement was below our private competitors like Babson College and Bentley University. We were even below larger public universities like the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Rhode Island. The University of Connecticut, for example, uses a percentile system, rather than a fixed GPA. As a result, students in their College of Business, typically need between a 3.7 and 3.8 to make the Dean’s List.
While I don’t think we should immediately require a 3.7 or 3.8, it is obvious that a Dean’s List GPA requirement of 3.2 simply wasn’t reflective of our University’s academic rigor. Moving up to 3.4 signals our University has high expectations for our student body, and that we deserve to be placed in the same tier as Bentley, Babson, and other competitive institutions.
The case for raising the GPA requirement doesn’t simply stop at its image. Raising the GPA should also serve to make students who strive to make the list try harder. By raising University standards, Bryant hopes students will also rise to meet increased expectations, and knowing our student body, I am confident students who truly value making the Dean’s List will rise to the occasion. Moreover, students will feel more accomplished when making the Dean’s List. Our Dean’s List reception seems to grow in size every year, and at some point, students who consistently make the list are no longer challenged. The higher the GPA requirement, the more accomplished students will feel if they make it, and the more driven other students will be if they are falling just below.
A modest increase in the Dean’s List GPA requirement sends a clear message that the Provost’s office, and the University as a whole, seriously value academic rigor, and are actively working to enhance the University’s academic atmosphere. While some incoming students who fall just below the GPA cusp may not like the decision, the requirement increase speaks to the broader narrative that the University is changing, and for the better.