Rich Hurley was a shining star in The Office of Campus Engagement. He helped create and develop programs that transform the lives of students at Bryant. His work touches all students here at Bryant, whether through First-Year Orientation, Linked through Leadership programs, the IDEA program, or even just the new Fisher Student Center, Rich Hurley had a hand at developing them all. If you did not get the chance to meet him while he was here, you probably had seen him waiting for his iced tea at Dunkin’ Donuts, or swiftly walking through Fisher. He will be greatly missed by his staff and the students and faculty who got to know him during his eight years here.
What are your plans post-Bryant?
I am going to be the Associate Director for the Student Resource Center at New York University in Manhattan. I am going to be working in the Student Resource Center and their mission is to afford all students at the university the information, resources, and experiences in order to succeed at their time at NYU. I am going to be working with commuters and transfer students who come into the university and there are over 20,000 off campus and commuter undergraduate students in that population.
A team of other professionals and me will be managing their commuter student government, their leadership opportunities, and their major programming. They have commuter assistants who guide students as a mentorship opportunity, and we will work with all their service opportunities and their faculty-staff collaborations. It is more about creating resources and programs and fitting the needs of the commuter and transfer students. I will get the opportunity to manage Weeks of Welcome in our department, which is about 500 programs in one week, and Senior Week. This will be the first thing I will be doing there, being able to be more involved with the programming involvement side in the students’ experience at NYU.
Do you think it will be challenging going from a small university to such a large university?
Yes. I think one of my fears is that here at Bryant I can see the impact of the work easily in some way, shape, or form. I can connect with every single first year student when they come to the university through orientation. Whether it is just walking by and they know my name, or I know their name, or I was involved checking them in, or whatever it may be. At NYU, it is a whole different animal. There are over 5,000 first-year students, so I think that I will be challenged on being able to know if my reach has an impact. I’m always going to wonder, just like I do at Bryant, what the other half thinks. What do the students who aren’t speaking up, who aren’t connected, and who aren’t involved, what do they really think about NYU? Luckily, I have no problem asking that question a million times over to anyone I meet, so it is going to be fine.
How has Bryant assisted in shaping you into the person you are today?
I could answer this for hours. First and foremost I was a student here from 2000-2004, so the whole reason that I got into the field of student affairs is because of my student leadership experiences when I was at Bryant, and I was afforded the opportunity to have mentors and staff who really advised me, guided me, and helped me. Then subsequently there were the people who said, “You can do the work that we do” and that transformed me. I came in here as an accounting major, and, gosh, I am so happy that I am not an accountant. For all the accounting majors, I am sorry, but I think I found my career path here.
I left, got my masters at Central Connecticut, and I worked at Roger Williams [University] for a year, and then I came back here, and I know that I would have never been able to get the job at NYU if I had not had the experiences that I have had over the course of the last eight years. I have been given opportunities to create programs, to develop student leaders, to rebuild a student union, and to lead a staff who is so committed to student development and advocacy for the student body here at Bryant. I feel that I have learned much more than I could have ever given here, I have learned unbelievable life lessons.
As a Bryant student, did you ever think that you would come back as a part of the staff?
No, when I left I said I would not come back because I had such a great experience here and I didn’t want to tarnish my good experience with being an administrator. I just didn’t want to do that, and I worried about that. But then, when I was at Roger Williams, I knew I wanted my next job to be in either leadership or community service. When I realized this, the job at Bryant was posted and it was in both leadership and community service. I’ll tell you why I came back, the reason I came back at that time was because everything that I knew as a student here was drastically different, to the point where I could come back.
The name of the department changed, the students at the school had changed, and there was only one staff member left in the department that was still here, Karen Misaszek, and I love her. She is a second mom to me so, needless to say, I was so happy to be able to work with her. The Vice President of Student Affairs at that time, Dr. Aiken and the Assistant Dean Judy A. Kawamoto, said something to me that made me want to come back. They told me they wanted to transform student life, and continue to transform student life on campus. Those words were the selling point to me. Everything was different, but the core of Bryant was the same. The really amazing things about this university were all the same but we grew and transformed to be better.
What do you love about Bryant and what is your favorite memory?
What I love about Bryant is that I think we come together very well. Whether it’s homecoming, The Festival of Lights, The Spring Weekend Concert, or whatever it might be, we really do come together. I love that I can pick up the phone and call any faculty and staff member and ask a question, which is very rare. I love that I get to work with students who want to make a difference, whether it’s in themselves, their peers, or in the community, they want to make a difference, they want to be able to do good things. The personal connection that you are able to have here is really monumental, I think.
My favorite memory as a student was graduation day, getting to walk through the archway. With no doubt in my mind it was the most meaningful experience for me. I would have to say, as a professional, a few memories come to mind. Being initiated with the first class of Sigma Chi was definitely a moment. A favorite memory was the opening of The Fisher Student Center; that was definitely a top 10 moment. The first time the IDEA program was done was a great memory as well. I also think that there have been so many times where I have had one on one interactions, retreats, and leadership programs where I have just been completely blown away by our students here. Those moments will always be a part of me.
What will you miss the most and what might you miss the least?
I will miss having Dunkin’ in the building, I will miss seeing the archway on a daily basis, I will miss driving onto campus and that feeling I get every morning. I will miss the people, my staff, and The Fisher Center. I honestly can’t think of something that I will miss the least, as silly as that is.
Any last words for your Bulldogs?
Yes, I think that one of the things that has really helped me in my eight years here is that rarely did I ever say “no”, that I wouldn’t help, support, or put someone else’s needs in front of my own. Very rarely did I put myself before others which has transformed my ability to be involved and engaged in this community. I would urge people to say yes as much as possible and to really try their hardest to put the needs of others before themselves. If you do that then your needs will be met too.