University of Rochester


Scholarship Honors Staff Member

Michael Bryant
DEDICATION: Michael Bryant looks at a display case honoring his father, Howard.

The legacy of Howard Bryant will take on a new meaning this fall when the first recipient of a scholarship named for the Department of Biology’s longtime facilities manager arrives at Rochester.

The scholarship, established as a memorial after Bryant’s death, is intended to support a student in the sciences or engineering who shows the same special “something” that those who worked with Bryant cherished.

“Certainly we’re looking for students with a dedication to academic excellence,” says Joanna Olmsted, former interim vice provost and dean of the College faculty and a professor of biology. “But we are also looking for students who want to make a difference in the world—who, like Howard, help other people, and have a certain excitement about life.”

Employed by the University for 43 years and facilities manager for the department for 30 of those years, Bryant died suddenly in 2004.

“Anytime you needed something, he was there,” says department chair Tom Eickbush. “If you were a new faculty member coming in and you needed your lab renovated, Howard got you everything you needed.”

Bryant was dedicated to providing a topflight and congenial environment for research and education.

“Howard’s job was to take care of the building and help out the department,” says Douglas Clark ’04, ’05 (MS), “but he really cared about the students. He always had food and drinks available for us, and there was a little retreat at the back of his office where you could hibernate for a while if you needed to.”

Clark, now a medical physicist at the Medical Center, worked for Bryant one summer as his stockroom clerk and saw the effects of his affection for students.

“Howard handled care packages from home, and he sent packages out for us. It’s unusual for alumni to keep in touch—you just tend to move on with your life—but here were alumni from 10, 15, 20 years ago, still sending things to Howard, still calling him. And not just a handful—a lot of alumni.”

Olmsted, who became friends with Bryant when she started out as an assistant professor in 1975, remembers Bryant’s way with people, especially his personal warmth and respect for everyone.

“Howard was a paragon,” Olmsted says. “He had the highest standards, and he was your advocate—he was empowering. He had so much pride in the institution. He believed that the University is outstanding and has outstanding people. Well, he created an atmosphere for people to be outstanding.”

After so many years of giving to the biology department, Eickbush says, “people wanted to do something” to remember Bryant.

A seminar room in Hutchison Hall, renamed the Howard Bryant Room, became the home of a handmade cabinet displaying memorabilia related to Bryant. Then an anonymous donor established a scholarship in his name and matched other donations through January 2006, making it possible to award the first scholarship this year. As of this spring, 86 donors had contributed nearly $300,000.

Donations are still being accepted for the Bryant Scholarship. For more information, contact Rob Gibson, senior associate vice president of University development, at (585) 275-7530 or

—Jayne Denker