Congratulations to all . . .


Undergraduate Convocation

On Saturday, May 15, 1999, in an observance that has been a Commerce tradition for twenty years, the high achievements of the class of 1999 and master's and doctoral candidates were recognized before family, friends, and faculty. It is at our ceremonies in Huff Hall — one for accountancy and economics students and another for business administration and finance — where each student is recognized individually for the ability, hard work, and dedication that have earned each a diploma from one of the best business colleges in the country. The weekend is a time for joyous celebration.

Mark Hogan, vice president, GMAC General Manager of Operations, NAO Small Car Group, spoke at the ceremonies. A member of the Class of 1973, Hogan was manager of the Varsity Football Team while at Illinois. He recalled that in his senior year he was invited to a lunch where he sat next to Tom Murphy (B.S. 1938), president of GM from 1974_80. A job offer from GM followed shortly — his career was launched. What he learned from that experience, he quipped, is "Never pass up a free lunch!" Early in his career, GM sent him to Harvard, where he earned an MBA (1977).

Hogan applauded the graduates for their achievements, saying "you have received a world-class education that has provided the base for you to prosper in the years ahead . . . . You'll go out and face the world, find your way to make a contribution, and hopefully create a work/life balance more successfully than many of us baby boomers have." While he said that he expects each graduate to create value — to stockholders, employees, and society — he cautioned that "success is defined personally." In fact, he suggested that "the values we carry with us are critical to how we ultimately measure success . . . . Successful companies are the ones that know who they are because they are built around core values." So he exhorted students to learn what was important to them and find a company that was a good match for their values. What he then provided was "Mark Hogan's Five Pretty-Good Values for the Journey through Life." They are:  think global;  have a spirit of innovation;   maintain a sense of humor;  respect and appreciate everyone you meet; and   strike a balance between your work and your personal life.

Recognizing that his talk was really only the warm-up for the main event, he purposely kept the remarks brief, but he managed to impart some thoughtful, excellent advice to the graduates. He closed by paying tribute to them, for their hard work, and to their parents, for the "tremendous efforts to produce this group of bright and talented young men and women." He urged the students to look back and "realize how much your parents and professors have given you to help form your character and values" and "to look forward to the challenging journey ahead."

"The values we carry with us are critical to how we ultimately measure success."

- Mark Hogan

Two standouts. Keynote speaker Mark Hogan and student speaker Jessica Isenberg.

A competition is held to determine who the student speaker will be at the Accountancy/Economics and Business Administration/Finance ceremonies. Winners this year were Kristine Scott, a major in accountancy from Rantoul, Illinois, who has accepted a job with Ernst & Young in Chicago and Jessica Isenberg, a business administration major from Decatur, Illinois, who will be joining PricewaterhouseCoopers in Chicago in the Human Relations area.

In a reminiscent mood, Kristine Scott spoke of this day as "crossing the finish line," of a journey that began with the first day of kindergarten. In fact she recalled some similarities between that day and her first day as a student in accounting — "I ended both days crying, talking to my mom." Apparently the panic attacks ended. Kristine earned many honors while at the university. While she said she credits her classroom learning with preparing her for a career in accounting, she also noted her belief that some of the most valuable "lessons learned while at the university involved learning to interact and grow with one another."

Mark Hogan, Kristine Scott, Dean Howard Thomas
Using Robert Fulgham's All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, her best lessons were learning to "share everything," "hold hands and stick together," and "how to say you are sorry." "Our living situations taught us a lot about sharing," and becoming tolerant, and where to draw the line. She emphasized that through extracurricular activities and team assignments "we learned how to work with diverse groups to reach a common goal," to take responsibility, to "step up to be a leader," and to finish a project on time. And, "one of the hardest and best lessons that we learned is how and when to admit that we were wrong."

"America has dubbed us the passionless generation," Jessica Isenberg said, because "They say we don't know what we want, what we believe, or who we are." In defense of her generation, Jessica turned to a beloved childhood classic, The Wizard of Oz, to offer some insights. Her "yellow brick road" began during freshman orientation when she overcame fear and awe as she "stepped onto the quad and felt collegiate." "This was MY Emerald City." Unsure of who she was or what she believed, Jessica "KNEW that this place held the answers." But, "just like the story, answers didn't come from the Wizard — the answers were in the journey." Instead of being given a brain, she learned "how much we don't know, how to learn, and the value of knowledge." Instead of getting a heart, "we found people to care about and we learned to give." Instead of courage "we gained confidence . . . through experience, making stumbling blocks into stepping stones." According to Jessica, these lessons helped in self-discovery.

Her second question was "do we know what we believe and can we put our heart and soul to that end?" She challenged her fellow graduates to have "passion." To "Know who you are and what you believe" with such enthusiasm that "you compel others to follow." To combat injustice and inequality she noted you must "Care so fiercely that you compel things to change." "Search for truth," she urged. "Our journey through our Emerald City was for a reason. We could not have made it alone. Support of family and friends sustained us, pushed us forward — and we thank you." Faculty and staff acted as guides, "but the next step we must take ourselves." Just as in the story, "we must look within ourselves and see that a plan has already been set in motion for our lives. Seek truth, seek peace — stand secure in who you are."

Although outwardly very different, this year each of the speakers crafted an address that imparted a similar message. As part of a special recognition, Professor Emeritus Richard Hill, the founder of the very prestigious Industrial Distribution Management program was on stage to greet the IDM graduates.

The Convocation Ceremony is overseen by the Office of Undergraduate Affairs with considerable help from Commerce Council . The Commerce Alumni Association hosted a reception for the graduates and their guests between the two ceremonies.

A family affair — graduates Marbella Pereira and 
Augustin Valezquez with daughter Paola.

MBA Convocation

Laughter and tears and cheers from the crowd and trumpet music processing and recessing — such were the sounds in the Foellinger Great Hall of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the eleventh annual Master of Business Administration Convocation, held on Saturday, May 15. "I am a firm believer that if this 1999 graduating class . . . the first class to face the millennium, confronts the challenges ahead with all the talent, knowledge, and resolve in this room, there's no way you can miss!" keynote speaker Mike Tokarz told the assembled graduates of the MBA and Executive MBA programs. 
Mike Tokarz

In addition to Tokarz, who is a distinguished MBA alumnus, Class of 1973, and general partner with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., featured speakers were MBA Association president Joseph Young, and Kristen Lambert, student director of the Office for the Study of Business Issues. Apropos of the vast unknown territories opening on the very threshold of commencement observances, Joseph Young chose a travel theme for his address, comparing an MBA degree to an airline ticket. "What's important now is not where we came from or how the journey was, but where we go from here," he said, adding with a big grin: "We hope that you enjoy the flight." Of her experiences with OSBI, Kristen Lambert said, "there's nothing like working in a group to keep you both humble and grateful for the talents you have." Her talk concluded thus: ". . . one of the richest and wisest men this world has ever seen, King Solomon, had the following to say about wealth:

"`Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind . . . .  I know there is nothing better for men to be happy and do good while they live.' Wealth and riches are not the answer. So let us not go chasing after them. Rather, let us look for ways to give back to others. To love and serve our families who have supported us through this time. To look for people to mentor once we arrive in our new jobs. To look for ways to give to those who are in need. For indeed, to whom much is given, much is to be expected."

Tokarz, who sits on the boards of directors of numerous corporations and is a member of the board of the University of Illinois Foundation, presented an address liberally layered with encouragement and a humor typified in remarks like: "My son Justin, also here today, said it well: `Remember Dad, you are the only thing standing between all these people and a giant party.'"

Drawing on his experiences with the Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago, for which he worked from 1973 to 1985 in positions in Miami, New York, and Philadelphia, and KKR, where he has been a general partner since 1993, Tokarz, who also holds a B.A. in economics from Illinois, told the group that the key to the future is personal leadership. "For it is my belief," he said, "that the solution to our problems is you . . . ." In the forward-looking spirit of his address and the occasion itself, he offered three principles for effective personal leadership. First there is the importance of winning on the margin — in the words of Tokarz, "the edge, the limit" — by putting in the extra effort it takes to outrun the competition. Second, pointed out Tokarz, leaders invest in themselves. Observing that "life is an endless unfolding, and, if we wish it to be, an endless process of self-discovery, an endless and unpredictable dialogue between our own potentialities and the life situations in which we find ourselves," Tokarz explained that "By potentialities I mean not just intellectual gifts, but the full range of one's capacities for learning, sensing, wondering, understanding, loving, and aspiring." For Tokarz, "leaders must be prepared to shock the future with their anticipation of the new."
As his third point, Tokarz noted: "Leaders think world class . . . without a global, world class perspective we are working with blinders on. Our vision is narrowed and obscured, our knowledge partial and inexact . . . . The key to becoming a world class player can be summarized in one word — attitude."

"There are no local goals," he exhorted the MBA and EMBA Classes of 1999, noting that ". . . one day, perhaps sooner than any of us can imagine, we will no longer think in terms of domestic business and global business. We will think of business, period."

He concluded: "As a graduate of this school, you inherit the mantle of an outstanding intellectual institution. Its reputation has been firmly established by the administration, the faculty, and by the out-standing graduates who precede you . . . . Respect it. Honor it. And, please, take it to a new standard of excellence . . . . Ladies and gentlemen, our time is up. All is said and done. Now it's your turn. Now it's time to get out into this world and just do it."

"With all the talent, knowledge, and resolve in this room, there's no way you can miss!"

- Mike Tokarz