Bryants find joy in giving, supporting Cornell College for 40 years

Peter and JoAnn Bryant have been two of Cornell’s biggest advocates for half of their lives–40 years–and they’re not stopping now.

Peter and JoAnn Bryant
Peter and JoAnn Bryant

The couple is giving $150,000 to the Athletic and Wellness Facilities Project to support the construction of Cornell’s $19.5 million Richard and Norma Small Athletic and Wellness Center (the SAW), part of the Greater > Than Campaign for Cornell College.

“There’s been a tremendous sense of pride of being associated with the college and all of the growth, development, and success over the years,” said Peter Bryant, a Cornell Trustee who lives in Cedar Rapids. “There’s little question that this has been a big part of our lives, and it has been such a joy.”

The Bryant’s gift will help fund the work to enlarge and renew the existing athletics facility resulting in a contemporary health, wellness, and sport center for all students, faculty, staff, and alumni. 

“Peter and JoAnn continue to enhance the student experience at Cornell through their amazing generosity, continued leadership, and ongoing support. This is another example of the genuine care the Bryants have for the well-being of our community, and we are grateful to have them on our team!” said Athletics Director and Head Baseball Coach Seth Wing.

Peter has served on Cornell’s Board of Trustees for 26 years. He took on that role following a successful 10-year run as the vice president of enrollment for Cornell when he and his team recruited record-breaking classes from 1982-1992. 

But if you ask Peter, perhaps one of his favorite positions at Cornell was that of a Cornell father. He enjoyed watching his daughter, Julie Bryant ’88, and all of her close friends experience their college years on the Hilltop.

“As a former member of the Cornell staff, proud parents of a very successful Cornell graduate, and for many years a Cornell Trustee, JoAnn and I know the positive impact the college continues to have on literally thousands of student lives and welcome the opportunity to include the college each year among our charitable gifts,” Peter said.

Following his career at Cornell, he went on to become the senior vice president and principal at Ruffalo Noel Levitz where he provided technology-enabled solutions and services for enrollment, student success, and fundraising in the higher education and nonprofit communities. Peter has consulted with more than 750 institutions in his career.  

With his background, he knows first-hand how important it is for Cornell to compete with other institutions. This facility, he says, will do just that. 

“Cornell’s ability to attract and retain student-athletes has contributed significantly to the college’s enrollment success, which makes this project so essential. Approximately 40% of the student body participates in intercollegiate athletics and countless others are eager to take advantage of new exercise facilities on a regular basis,” Peter said.

The Bryants have also given to the Science Facilities Project, the renovations of Garner President’s House, Law Hall, and Russell D. Cole Library, the Ash Park Field Project, the Fine Arts Campaign, the college’s endowment, and the Cornell Fund over time.

Now the couple is looking forward to seeing the doors of the SAW open in the fall and marking this as one more project completed in the 40 years they’ve watched the beautiful Hilltop campus grow and change.