A time for joy, pride, and nostalgia. The achievements of students earning degrees from the College of Commerce were celebrated at three separate ceremonies on Saturday, May 13.
|Before a large, joyful, and boisterous crowd of friends, family, and faculty, the doctoral, master's, and undergraduate students members of the Commerce Class of 2000 were recognized individually for their scholastic achievements. Earning a degree from the College of Commerce and Business Administration at the University of Illinois places each graduate in a very elite group. As is our custom, the ceremony was divided into two discrete parts, along departmental lines, so each graduate could invite as many proud friends and relations as they wished. Accordingly, the accountancy and economics ceremony began at 12:15 p.m. and the finance and business administration ceremony began at 4:15 p.m. In between, a reception was held in a tent just behind Huff Hall, where the graduates could mingle with their friends and fellow students, for a memorable farewell.||
|One last challenge keeping the mortarboard on as students march toward the convocation ceremony. Then, on into the future.|
Keynote speaker at both ceremonies was Steve Goldman, executive vice president and CAO, Television Group, Paramount Pictures, a marketing major who received his B.S. from Commerce in 1965 . In a thoughtful speech, laced with good advice, Goldman exhorted students not to be afraid to admit mistakes. If "some of you come to a realization that the career you've chosen just isn't the right one for you, . . . don't feel guilty. It's okay to change your mind." Goldman then recounted the job changes he experienced until he found what made him happy, his "passion." He also spoke of learning to deal with rejection and the importance of learning how to manage people. The biggest challenge of all, he said, is finding out how to "balance career and family." And perhaps one of the most important lessons, he said, "in a business transaction or in your personal life, is to recognize that compromise is the way to get things done. Sometimes you'll have the advantage and other times you won't." But this is the way, according to Goldman, to a "win win" situation.
As a special treat for the graduates, Goldman had prepared a videotape of some special graduation advice from a host of stars he works with. (When you're in charge of a major studio you can command such things.) Narrated by Leeza Gibbons, the tape featured such television luminaries as Bud Burman, Kate Mulgrew, Jane Leeves, Kelsey Grammer, Montel Williams, Judge Judy Sheindlin, and David Hyde Pierce. Each one talked about one of the cardinal rules they live by. These include: be willing to take risks; take advice from those who support you; surround yourself with those who care about you; take inspiration from the accomplishments of others; give back when you become successful; make time for your family; love what you do and you will feel successful.
Cut to the live presentation! "As you move forward from today," Goldman said in closing, "you will have plenty of opportunities to make mistakes, and take some risks. Don't be afraid to fail. But, please, learn the difference between smart risks and stupid ones.
|Each year, Commerce Council holds a competition to determine who the student speaker will be at the Accountancy/Economics and the Business Administration/Finance ceremonies. Winners this year were Derek Beaty, an accountancy major from Havana, Illinois, who will spend next year studying in Barcelona on a Rotary Scholarship, and Joseph Jauch, an Industrial Distribution Management student from Palatine, Illinois, who has accepted a position with GE Supply in Bolingbrooke, Illinois.||
|Keynote speaker and alumnus Steve Goldman (l) with Dean Thomas and Derek Beaty, the graduating senior who addressed the Accountancy/Economics ceremony.|
Whipping out a camera from under his robe, Derek Beaty, obviously in a waggish mood, turned the tables on the audience. "Smile everyone," he said, as he snapped a few memories of his own. Turning to the more serious business of the day, he began like any good accountant with numbers. "It has been exactly 1,369 full days since we first called this campus our home on August 23, 1996. We have had 567 days of classes, sat through over 1,900 hours of lecture, followed by 500 professor office hours the day before exams to catch up on lectures we missed. We have written over 100 term papers, scheduled over 200 group meetings, and sweated through 120 hours of final exams. We also had 375 Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights as well."
And for all this, what do we have to show, Derek asked? "Only one piece of paper: the diploma." And for Derek, the college experience was much more than just earning a diploma. It was about "hard work, determination, the achievement of a goal." "It was about campus and community involvement and life-long friendships gained through the years at the U of I." Quoting Mark Twain, who said, "I have never let my schooling get in the way of my education," Derek went on to say "Sure, we have received a great academic education here, but it is the intangibles, the education out-side the classroom, that we will remember and benefit from for much longer. The key is to apply them to the rest of our lives."
What are these, intangibles, Derek asked? Goal setting and hard work; becoming involved in extracurricular activities that build leadership, communication, and social skills; and building friendships that will last a lifetime, he answered. And remember, Derek exhorted, "the things that made you successful at the U of I are the same intangibles that will make for a successful life after college. Become involved in causes you care about, volunteer," stay involved with the university through the alumni association.
||"We all have special people in our lives, those who have made a difference, who have made our goal of a college education a reality," Joe Jauch reminded his fellow graduates as he opened his speech. "Let us recognize them as an important part of our journey and our lives with a round of applause." Speaking of the great diversity of race, culture, and ethnic backgrounds to be found among the students and faculty at the college, Joe was struck not by the differences but by the common "desire for knowledge, learning, and academic success" that prevailed. And he was struck how, for all students, the University of Illinois became "home" while they pursued the degree. "The University of Illinois will always have a special place in our hearts. What we will take from this place are the lessons learned especially, that through hard work and perseverance we can accomplish anything . . . . We have the tools and the minds to change tomorrow. Our ability to manage change and change with the times will take us to the next level."|
|"But even the most intelligent and knowledgeable people still
make mistakes. It takes a great person to know when they are wrong,
and an even greater person to be able to admit it. It is our ability to
learn and be flexible that will separate us from the rest. We must not
ask `Why?' but instead, `Why not?'"
In conclusion, Joe reminded the graduates of the importance
of staying in touch with those who have "left a footprint"
on our lives. "Be grateful for what you have been given," and
give back to others in the form of shared time. Most
importantly, find out what is important to you and follow that
dream. "Today is not the end of a journey, it is the
beginning. Tomorrow is unknown and it
A friendship forged for life. Greg Stokke (l) and Roland Thomas (r) both former Commerce Council execs.
|From chortling babies more taken with their mommies than with mortarboards, to grandmothers who'd traveled halfway around the world to applaud and shed tears, to parents, spouses, siblings, and friends, a buoyant and jubilant crowd came flowing into Foellinger Great Hall to share in the joy and pride of graduating students at the Twelfth Annual Master of Business Administration Convocation. Held on Saturday, May 13, the event provided a formal and moving send-off for almost 200 members of the combined Classes of 2000 from Commerce's Illinois MBA and Executive MBA programs. Opened with remarks by Bill Bryan, associate interim dean of the Illinois MBA program, the event featured a keynote address by James Mahoney, MBA Class of 1967 and founder of HLM, a portfolio management company in Boston with assets valued at approximately $950 million.||
Mahoney recalled that when he enrolled in the program, he was one in a class of just fifty-nine students, most of whom had recently completed the undergraduate program in engineering at Illinois and had simply traveled a short distance down campus to further enhance their credentials. Outfitted with a pronounced New England accent and an undergraduate degree from Boston College, he was, by contrast, "the Irishman from Boston" and as such, a "foreign student" who "had no idea corn could grow so high." While noting with clear admiration and gratitude that the University of Illinois has played a major role in enabling the technological revolution, Mahoney observed: "I learned a lot of dynamic programming thirty years ago. I never used a lot of it. But the `people' skills I learned, I do use all the time." These, he said, include self-knowledge, active listening, recognizing second- and third-level impacts of decisions, and never confusing life and work. Having noted the somewhat comforting statistical reality that "the majority of life doesn't have anything to do with work," he wrapped up with the resounding words: "Good bye, good luck, God speed, and don't forget tomorrow's Mother's Day!"
Mahoney's address was preceded by remarks from Greg Locke, MBA Association president and member of the Class of 2000, who advanced a series of observations on the theme: You Know You're Ready to Graduate When (among other things):
To all the graduates and the families and friends who share in the accomplishments recognized on this day,
Each year, members of the honor societies at Commerce achieve the enviable distinction of being recognized as the top students at one of the finest business colleges in the nation.
Several CBA societies honor outstanding performance both overall, and in specific disciplines. It is a further indication of the excellence of our fine institution that two of these venerable organizations were founded here on campus.
It's an honor society that offers the best of both worlds formal recognition of academic distinction combined with the range of activities and opportunities offered by a very active student club. Founded on the University of Illinois campus in 1919, Beta Alpha Psi has grown into a national organization with chapters around the country, whose members regularly gather at regional and national meetings. Here at Commerce, membership numbers around a hundred and is limited to students who rank academically in the top 30 percent of the college. Formerly the purview of accounting students, Beta Alpha Psi has in recent years opened its ranks to students in finance, systems, and "others who may be interested in careers in accounting," according to accountancy faculty member Dick Ziegler, who has been club advisor since the mid-'80s. When students pledge the organization typically in their sophomore year they commit to earning a certain number of points, through service projects and other activities. Similarly, the chapter as a whole must earn points to keep its charter.
Meetings are organized by the students, who are also responsible for chapter funding. Major accounting firms and large businesses do help sponsor club activities, which include presentations by invited speakers, field trips, seminars, and case studies. "Beta Alpha Psi offers another way to provide students with opportunities to gain leadership experience and acquire knowledge from business professionals in short to find out what the real world is like," said Ziegler. "Historically our chapter has offered inside opportunities for internships and employment. Students in the top 30 percent of the college comprise a group which companies want very much to recruit."
The premier academic honor society open to business students and the flagship honorary for Commerce, Beta Gamma Sigma is an organization that invites frequent comparison with the prestigious liberal arts academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa. The first honor society for business students, Beta Gamma Sigma was founded in 1913 at the University of Illinois, as a merger of charter chapters at Illinois, the University of Wisconsin, and UC-Berkeley. Today there are more than 270 chapters with more than 320,000 members. CBA's charter chapter status was recognized in 1983 the organization's 75th year by a ceremony on campus and the placement of a plaque in 370 Commerce West commemorating this milestone. Membership in Beta Gamma Sigma is open to the top 7 percent of the junior class and the top 10 percent of the senior class, as well as the top 20 percent of master's students and selected doctoral students. Membership is the highest national recognition a business student can receive in a program at an AACSB-accredited school. Professor James Gentry is the president of the UIUC Chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma and Associate Dean H.F. Williamson is the faculty advisor.
Popularly known as the FMA, the Financial Management Association National Honor Society was established in 1970 to develop a continuing relationship between finance practitioners and academicians, and to facilitate the transfer of ideas, techniques, and advances in the field of finance among universities, businesses, and other institutions. The only national honor society for finance students, the FMA has chapters throughout the United States and the world, and encourages and rewards scholarship and academic accomplishments among both undergraduates and graduate students. At the University of Illinois, FMA is open to finance majors in both Commerce and LAS. Prospective members must have completed Finance 300 and have a GPA of at least 3.5, and be certified by a sponsoring member of the finance faculty. Formerly an independent entity, FMA has, over time, evolved into an adjunct organization of the Finance Club, a large and active group. Advisors for both FMA and the Finance Club are finance faculty members Jennie France and Elisabeth Oltheten. "We like club activities to be open to all," noted France, who said FMA students receive special recognition including a scroll and a lapel pin.
Tau Alpha Chi, an honor society which recognizes achievement in taxation studies, is an organization open to graduate students and (by invitation) undergraduate students. Tom Sternburg, the accountancy faculty member who serves as club advisor, has noted that the group is at present in a state of transition. The relatively short duration of the M.S. in taxation program which generally requires a year of full-time study means that turnover among officers has seriously impacted the club's vitality. Sternburg is confident, however, that the new 150-hour state-mandated requirement for CPA certification will result in renewed interest in the club, as taxation students take advantage of opportunities for extended study coupled with advanced degrees.