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Bill Mayer Delivers Keynote Speech at Commencement Congratulations, Smith School Graduates!

May 22, 2009
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In a lively ceremony on May 22, 2009 at the Comcast Center, four PhDs, 100 executive MBAs, 300 MBA/MS, and 825 undergraduates graduated with business degrees from the Robert H. Smith School of Business. Former Smith School Dean William E. Mayer ’66, MBA ’67, delivered the keynote address as thousands of friends and family members gathered to cheer on the newest Smith Terp alumni.

Bill Mayer, senior partner of Park Avenue Equity Partners and chairman emeritus of the Aspen Institute, came to the University of Maryland for his undergraduate business degree and then his MBA after serving as a first lieutenant in the United States Air Force. After graduating, he began his career at the First Boston Corporation, now Credit Suisse, and during his 23 years with the company progressed from associate to president and chief executive officer. He served as dean and a faculty member of the Smith School from 1992-97.

Mayer is widely influential and deeply respected in the world of finance, and also at the University of Maryland. He serves as co-chair of Great Expectations: the Campaign for Maryland, which is raising $1 billion dollars to ensure the university’s future. He has served as chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees and is currently on its executive committee.

“I’ve been fascinated with the concept of leadership for a really long time,” said Mayer in his commencement address.

He presented two homework lessons to graduates: (1) find your unique gift, and (2) think back to when you really needed to “figure it out” all by yourself. Understanding who you are and what makes you unique and different is vital to becoming a sustainable leader, said Mayer. All of us have a special distinctive gift and it is important to identify it because it should be used in everything we do. “When is the first time you actually saw yourself being put in a leadership position?” he asked. You take a lot of input… but as you get higher and higher, at the highest levels – we call it judgment – but at the end of the day, you are figuring it out, said Mayer.

This year’s student speakers were Joel Liebman ’09, who delivered the undergraduate address, and Asma Mirza, MBA’09, who delivered the MBA address.

Joel Liebman graduated with a bachelor of science in finance and a bachelor of arts in economics and was awarded the Dean’s Leadership Award at the Dean’s Undergraduate Awards Banquet. Liebman earned the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill Presidential Scholarship and Presidential Merit scholarship. He made the dean’s list for both the Smith School and the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences—not just once or twice, but every semester he has been at the university. He also received citations from the Business Honors program, the QUEST program, and the University Honors program. He has been active in many student organizations as well, serving as an executive board member for Omicron Delta Kappa, president of the QUEST student organization, vice president of the Smith Undergraduate Student Association, and president of the Smith Ambassadors. In his speech, Liebman talked about how every decision we make is a reflection on our true character.

Asma Mirza came to the Smith School from a career in consulting, having worked for Accenture and interned for Booz Allen Hamilton. She is an entrepreneur and founded her own event management group, Mirza Event Planning. During her time at Smith, Mirza served as vice president of event management for the MBA Consulting Club as well as a student ambassador and member of the Smith Association of Women MBAs. She is the national president of the Muslim Students Association, MSA National, a nonprofit organization that promotes diversity and interfaith dialogue and addresses campus issues related to Islam. She serves on its board of directors and has been active in the association for several years. During that time she helped to re-brand the organization and tripled its annual fundraising revenue. In her speech, Mirza talked about how the Smith MBA experience has coincided with tumultuous times in the global economy. She said that the MBA has prepared them to deal with the uncertainties ahead.

Congratulations to all Smith School graduates! Become a fan of the Smith School on Facebook to see more photos of the commencement ceremony. Check back soon for photos from our professional photographer. 

Alissa Arford-Leyl, Office of Marketing Communications

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business 

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, MS in business, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.