Nearly 400 students joined family and friends on Sunday, Dec. 21, 2003, to celebrate their graduation from the Smith School of Business. Paul J. Norris MBA '71 (pictured right), chairman and CEO of W.R. Grace & Co., a premier global specialty chemicals and materials company, delivered the keynote speech.
Norris talked to graduates about the importance of value systems as they apply to leaders. He urged students to listen, serve, and excite their customers; communicate with, motivate, and respect people; and have integrity by obeying laws, reporting information accurately, and being honest. "Find something you can do that you truly enjoy," Norris said, reminding students to have fun.
Norris said that back in 1971, when he graduated from the business school, he never would have believed he'd be where he is today. "Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement," said Norris, quoting Helen Keller.
In November 1998, Norris joined Grace as president and CEO and became chairman in January 1999. In 2003, Norris turned over the role of president to Fred Festa, who was also named chief operating officer. Previously, with AlliedSignal Incorporated, he served as senior vice president of the corporation and president of AlliedSignal's $1.6 billion specialty chemicals business since 1997.
An acknowledged leader in the specialty chemical and materials industry, Norris serves on the boards of the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Chemistry Council. He is also a member of the Greater Baltimore Committee, a group of prominent corporate leaders dedicated to strengthening the region's business climate. He is also sharing his insights as a global business executive with us as a member of the Smith School's Board of Visitors.
Smith School graduates Emily Marker, an information systems major, and Louise Hayden, a Washington, D.C., part-time MBA student, also spoke at the ceremony.
Emily Marker received her degree Summa Cum Laude, with a perfect 4.0 GPA (pictured right, with Dean Howard Frank). "Our lives are changing so much that we often have trouble seeing where we are now," said Marker in her address.
She urged classmates to "take time to dare to imagine what we want to be... cast away factors that don't allow us to be what we want to be."
Marker's academic achievements have been recognized with the University of Maryland President's Scholarship and the Lockheed Martin Scholarship from Smith. She has been captain or co-captain of the Terrapin women's tennis team for four years, she is currently ranked #3 in the Eastern Region among collegiate players. Marker has also competed successfully in professional tournaments. Off the court, she has served as treasurer of the university's Student Athlete Advisory Council. Marker is planning to enter a Ph.D. program in operations management in the fall, at Harvard or the University of Michigan.
Over the past three years, Louise Hayden (pictured right) has combined a full-time career as a business consultant with part-time graduate business study. In her address, Hayden spoke of a study trip she took earlier this year to Santiago, Chile, with 30 Smith students and faculty members. The emphasis of the trip was on logistics and one stop was the Rucaray produce farm outside Santiago, which is owned by 2001 Smith MBA alumnus Miguel Vial and his family.
"Standing in the middle of an apple orchard outside of Santiago, I found it kind of odd that next week I might buy the apple I just saw picked, cleaned, and sorted, at my local Wal-Mart," said Hayden.
"With just one Chilean apple, I realized how the simple things in our lives are connected to a much more complex world," said Hayden. "I also learned how the Smith School itself, can connect me with the world. And this is what makes the Smith School experience so special for me."
Currently, Hayden works as a project manager with Unisys Corporation providing IT solutions for government clients. She is co-founder of the Part-time Graduate Women in Business Association and organized a book and school supply drive for part-time MBAs to benefit KidSafe, a Washington, D.C., organization that offers after-school tutoring and enrichment programs for at-risk children. Hayden earned her undergraduate degree in international affairs from George Washington University.