Congressman Ronald K. Machtley

Inducted: 2018
Born: 1948 - Died:

Congressman Ronald Machtley , president of Bryant University, is not a native Rhode Islander, but he has enriched his adopted state through his leadership for nearly four decades. Ron was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania on July 13, 1948, but like Hall of Fame inductees, Admirals Stephen Luce, Alfred Thayer Mahan, and William S. Sims, the Navy brought him to the Ocean State. Like that distinguished trio, he also became a college president, albeit with a much longer tenure.
Machtley received a B.S. degree from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1970, then served on active duty, some of it in Newport, until 1975. Thereafter, he spent twenty years in the U.S. Naval Reserve retiring with the rank of captain.
Having chosen Rhode Island as his permanent home, he enrolled at Suffolk University Law School from which he received his Juris Doctor degree in 1978. He then gained immediate admission to the Rhode Island Bar. After a decade of practice, during which he co-edited a book in his specialty, The Telecommunication Act Handbook, Ron ran for Congress as a moderate Republican. In 1988, he scored a stunning upset victory over Fernand St. Germain, Rhode Island’s longest-serving congressman ever. Ron won a total of three congressional elections (1988, 1990, and 1992). In his final contest he polled an impressive 70 percent of the vote at a time when Democrat Bill Clinton easily carried the state.
During his six year congressional career, Machtley was a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the ranking Republican on the Small Business Committee’s Minority Enterprise, Finance, and Urban Development Subcommittee. Anticipating the focus of his successor, Patrick Kennedy, Ron co-founded the first U.S. House Working Group on Mental Health. Then, Ron decided to make a run for governor and became, himself, the victim of a huge political upset in the Republican primary at the hands of Governor Lincoln Almond.
Rising to the position of U.S. Congressman is an important and impressive achievement, but few Rhode Island congressmen have been honored by election to the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame. It takes a legislative career, like that of John E. Fogarty, or an impressive supplementary career, like those conducted by Ron Machtley and his fellow inductee Patrick Kennedy, to earn this recognition. For Ron that stellar career was his tenure as the hugely productive president of Bryant University from 1996 to the present. In that capacity, the strength of his leadership shines through.
During, and as a result, of Ron Machtley’s presidency, Bryant has experienced unprecedented growth and university status. Dramatic improvements in academic excellence, faculty up-grades, increased enrollment, campus expansion, athletic programs, and technological innovations have dramatically raised the reputation and ranking of Bryant University.
Ron’s off-campus activities are also impressive. He has served on the boards of several corporations and many civic and charitable foundations including the presidency of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council.
Leaving some time for play, Ron is an accomplished golfer. He is married to the former Kati Croft. They are the parents of a son, Todd and a daughter, Erin. Now Ron joins Bryant’s founder and innovative educator, Theodore F. Stowell, as a member of the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame.
(Dr.) Patrick T. Conley

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