Congratulations, Smith School Graduates!
On Sunday, May 20, 2012, thousands gathered in the Comcast Center at the
University of Maryland for the commencement ceremony of the Robert H. Smith
School of Business. Over 1,000 students graduated with BS, MBA, executive
MBA, MS, and PhD degrees.
Keynote Speaker Michael Ward,
Chairman and CEO of CSX
The keynote speaker was Michael Ward, chairman and CEO of CSX, one of the
nation's premier transportation and logistics companies. Ward received his
bachelor’s degree in business from the Smith School in 1972. Unsure exactly what
he wanted to do upon graduation, he took a chance and applied to Harvard,
eventually graduating from the institution with his MBA.
Ward then moved back to Baltimore, Md., to be near his family. “I was hired
by a railroad company that today is CSX,” he said. “I have been blessed with a
wonderful 35-year career there. I have worked in finance, sales and marketing,
and operations over the years.”
Ward offered several pieces of advice to graduates, with the most important
being to never sacrifice your personal integrity at any cost or for any benefit.
“Personal integrity is the most important asset you possess,” he said. “It is
invaluable and almost impossible to regain if you lose it. You need a strong
moral compass to guide you through life’s inevitable tough decisions,” he said.
He urged grads to find an organization that is the right fit as far as
morals, values, purpose, and people. “Do you like the people you will be working
with?” he asked. “You’d better, because you will spend more time with them than
any other single activity you engage in – sleeping, family, community
activities, or recreation.”
He also addressed the issue of switching jobs every few years. “At the
beginning of your career, when you are trying to find the right organization for
you, it is fine to change jobs,” he said. “However, I must tell you that when I
receive a résumé of an individual who changes jobs every three-to-four years, it
goes right in the trash can. I believe that to become a true expert and really
impact your chosen field of endeavor you need to stick with it.”
To be an effective leader, he encouraged grads to surround themselves with
the smartest, team-oriented people they can find and ensure diversity of
thought, style and experience while resisting the urge to micromanage – and
always give credit for successes when due.
“Finally, as your life progresses, one of the hardest things for you to
envision now, but critical, is to find your purpose,” he said. “What do you want
to accomplish in your short time on this planet? It took me years, actually
decades, to find mine – but I now have! My purpose is to make a positive
difference in the lives of others, especially young people who might not
otherwise have an opportunity to succeed. Fortunately, I am in a position to do
Student Speakers Katie Breen and “June” Natthida
Undergraduate student speaker Katie Breen talked about “fear” and how the
financial meltdown impacted learning in the classroom for her classmates. “Some
of the most important lessons we learned were from the headlines,” she said.
“Smith has taught us to embrace fear, use fear and learn from fear.”
The MBA student speaker was “June” Natthida Kiattiwong and she urged grads to
step out of their comfort zones. “A comfort zone makes us feel good about who we
are and what we know. However, it also confines us,” she said. “If we want to
move forward, we need to step outside of the familiar. If I have learned
anything from the Smith Experience, it is that we learn the most when we are
outside of our comfort zones.”
Congratulations, Class of 2012!
Special congratulations to the following graduates who
received their doctoral degrees:
National Anthem Performers:
“Every member of the Smith community is very proud of your achievements,”
said Dean G. “Anand” Anandalingam to the graduates. “We wish you well on the
journey ahead, and I look forward to hearing many good reports of your successes
in the years to come.”
This is the last year that Pat Cleveland will serve as associate dean for
undergraduate programs and she gave a special address to the students at the
closing of the ceremony. Dean Anand said, “During her tenure, Smith has been
consistently ranked as one of the top business programs in the country. Pat has
been a tireless advocate and champion for our undergraduate students, and many
of you here tonight experienced her enthusiasm and her commitment to ‘her
Cleveland, beaming, took the podium and echoed her familiar mantra to the
students, advising them, “The world belongs to those who show up.” Further
encouraging the students as they enter a difficult economy, she said, “There’s a
lot going on out there, but in times of peril are times of great opportunity.
And I know you will go out there and take hold and right the ship.”
Congratulations to all members of the class of 2012!
Alissa Arford, Office of Marketing Communications
About the 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, 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.