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Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain Speaks to School’s Graduating Seniors; Warns of Seductive Societal Trend

May 15, 2009
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The societal trend of homogenization will have a profound impact on the lives of the nearly 500 men and women graduating with bachelor’s degrees from the School of Business Administration during the spring 2009 commencement ceremony May 15. That, according to Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., who was the commencement speaker for graduating business and engineering students. Fain, who is a member of the UM Board of Trustees, warned graduating seniors that homogenization is seductive, but not in a good way. As an example he recalled a recent visit to Wimbledon Village just outside London, a small town where he once lived, when it had just a bakery, butcher shop, fishmonger and cheese store. Today, the village has a supermarket, which Fain said looks just like the Publix grocery store in Coral Gables, making shopping more efficient and more convenient.

“But in the process we’ve lost something,” Fain warned. “We’ve lost some of the uniqueness of the place. We’ve lost the ability to compare and experiment. And the loss extends far beyond losing old fashioned quaint shopping habits.”

 Richard Fain and Dany Garcia  

 UM trustee Dany Garcia (BBA ’92) introduced
 speaker and fellow trustee Richard Fain


Fain pointed to the world financial crisis as an example of the dangers of homogenization – where, as he explained, a vast number of people in the middle have the “correct” answer.

“A bunch of very clever people convinced themselves and convinced others that our system was so strong and they were so smart that they could measure the risks and control the risks better than anyone had in history,” said Fain. “Anyone who questioned the prudence of saddling our families and our businesses with massive amounts of debt was branded not only naïve but possibly immoral.”

Fain offered graduates four pieces of advice for dealing with this societal trend, which he said would influence their future whether they “like it or not.” He said they should find answers to problems that the accepted wisdom does not acknowledge, fight for what they believe in, build up a pot of money so they can afford to say “screw you,” and pursue social responsibility.

Remarks by UM President Donna E. Shalala illustrated how these graduates had already shown a commitment to making the world a better place. Shalala reminded seniors that for most of them, their freshman year started off with Hurricane Katrina and Wilma sweeping through campus and cancelling classes. And she recalled the response to the devastation Katrina would later wreak on the Gulf Coast.

“We counted ourselves fortunate and turned our good fortune into committed and compassionate action,” said Shalala. “Many of you helped raise money and awareness and some of you participated in alternative spring breaks in New Orleans and Mississippi.”

The president also reminded graduating seniors that they had witnessed history, with a front row seat before some of the biggest players on the world stage. Former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, then Senator and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Senator John McCain and the man who is now President Barrack Obama had all been on campus during their lives as college students.

Students Honored for Academic and Leadership Excellence

  Graham and Shalala 

  UM President Donna Shalala honors School of
  Business graduating senior Jimmy Graham

Several School of Business graduates received special recognition during the ceremony. They included Michael Bookman, a double major in finance and entrepreneurship. Bookman, who will attend the University of Virginia Law School, was recognized for his leadership role in a number of student organizations. Dana Dombey (pictured above), a double major in political science and finance, was recognized as a student activist who led such efforts as an initiative to prompt the Florida State Legislature  to divest its pension from companies doing business with Iran. And Jimmy Graham, who became a fan favorite over his four seasons with the men’s basketball team, was recognized for being both an exceptional student athlete and an inspiration to those who face adversity, having gone from rebellious teen and straight F student to college graduate with a double major in management and marketing.

A number of other School of Business graduates were honored for academic and leadership excellence as part of commencement activities earlier in the week. The class valedictorian was Matthew Fisk a dual major who earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average in both finance and marketing. Fisk received the Dean’s Award in Honor of Beatrice Gitlow, which recognizes the senior with highest academic honors. The other top senior honor, the Beta Gamma Sigma Leadership Award, was presented to Thomas Bartman, whose accomplishments included becoming a finalist in the Rhodes Scholar competition. Bartman was also selected to speak at the University’s Honors Convocation, held the day before commencement. Fisk, Bartman and a number of other top students were recognized during the Undergraduate Business Programs Awards Ceremony May 13.

Retiring Faculty Recognized

James Foley, associate professor of economics, who is retiring after 41 years with the University, was among several retiring UM faculty members honored during the commencement ceremony. Foley has taught economics since 1968. He served for 10 years as director of the School’s graduate program in economics before becoming who President Shalala called “the legendary associate dean of undergraduate studies,” a position he held from 1987 to 2007. Foley was credited with the development of a recruitment program that resulted in dramatic rises in SAT scores of incoming freshmen.

Graduate Ceremony

More than 200 MBA and other master’s degree candidates participated in the Graduate Degree Ceremony the day before the undergraduate ceremony. Those awarded MBA degrees included 105 graduates from the School’s Full-time MBA Program and 25 graduates from the Executive MBA Program in Delray Beach. Also participating were 41 MBA candidates in the School’s MBA for Working Professionals Program and 32 MBA and MS candidates in the Spanish language Master of Science in Professional Management-MBA (MSPM) Program who will receive degrees this summer.

The School of Business graduates were among more than 3,200 students graduating from the University of Miami during six ceremonies at the BankUnited Center May 14 to 17.

Undergraduate ReceptionMore on Graduate Commencement/Awards Ceremony
View Graduate Commencement Ceremony Video
View Graduate Reception Slideshow

More on Undergraduate Awards Ceremony
View Undergraduate Awards Ceremony Slideshow
View Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony Video
View Undergraduate Reception Slideshow

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