Amidst all the tumult and turmoil attendant upon the end of the semester there are some wonderful moments. For me, some of the best are the recognition events that take place - the Commerce Awards Banquet, the Alumni Association Spring Luncheon, and, of course, graduation.
You too would be impressed, and proud, to learn about the many accomplishments of the students and faculty we recognize at the annual awards banquet. One of the glories of the College of Commerce is our outstanding student body. It was true when you were a student and is still true today. And I'm not just being parochial when I say that. Not too long ago, a dean from another school, who knows the caliber of our students well, said, "If I had your student body, I'd have a top business school too." We do have excellent students, and we have them in abundance. And they shine both in the classroom and out. For example, student organizations in the college provide many services to the college, university, and community. The Council of Presidents comprised of the leaders of each student organization in the college, has worked closely with the college administration to organize the awards banquet. Individual clubs contribute to other college events. Our MBA students have demonstrated their "take charge" attitudes and abilities on several occasions.
Our faculty, the heart of this institution, continue to impress me. Although budget constraints have led to a steady decline in the number of full-time, tenure-track faculty, those who remain continue to do exceptional work. Research productivity remains high and is a visible measure of their accomplishment. Less visible, but equally important, are the faculty's contributions to teaching and curricular matters. In the pages of this newsletter you will meet this year's award winning teachers. A major activity for a number of faculty this year has been the creation of an exciting new MBA curriculum. Indeed, at the end of the semester, college faculty and campus administrators were invited to attend a widely-praised preview of the curriculum that will be introduced this fall.
At the Annual Spring Luncheon Alumni and faculty are honored. This year the Distinguished Commerce Alumna Award was presented to Dr. Sybil Mobley, dean of the School of Business and Industry at Florida A&M. She was honored for her achievements in academia. Under her quidance, business education at Florida A&M has become one of the strongest programs in the country. Albert H. Wohlers, a long-time friend of the college, received the Commerce Appreciation Award for his years of service to the college.
One person who deserves special recognition in this season of praise is Stanley O. Ikenberry, who is retiring after sixteen years as president of the University of Illinois. The university has changed greatly during his long and successful tenure. Although he has presided over the university during some of the bleakest budget conditions, he leaves the university stronger than he found it, with a renewed emphasis on undergraduate education, an explosion of new buildings, especially on the engineering campus, and strong donor support for a large and growing endowment. President Ikenberry has been a tireless advocate for excellence in education. And he has been a good friend to the College of Commerce. We will miss his friendly but firm leadership and counsel. After a year's sabbatical, he will return to Urbana-Champaign and continue to contribute to the life of this university community.
Well, the semester is over and the awards have all been given. I extend my heartiest congratulations to all. And a heartfelt thanks to all the staff who make the college run so efficiently and allow others to shine. Too often we neglect to acknowledge their essential services, cheerfully given. To them, to you, to all who make this an outstanding school of business, in this season of year-end accomplishments and graduation, I tip my mortarboard in admiring recognition. I truly enjoyed shaking the hands of every one of the 800-plus students graduating on May 13 in three separate ceremonies.
Howard Thomas, Dean and James F. Towney Professor of Strategic Management