Graduating Seniors Advised to 'Find Themselves' So They Can Change the World; Master’s Graduates Urged to Prepare for a Changing World
May 14, 2010
Members of the School's undergraduate class of 2010 should go out into the world and learn who they are in order to make the world a better place. That was the message from Miami banker and UM trustee Leonard Abess in his commencement address to the School's more than 600 graduating seniors during their graduation ceremony May 14. Abess, who is the chairman and CEO of City National Bank of Florida made national headlines when it became known that he sold a majority stake in City National Bancshares and shared the proceeds - $60 million - with his current and former employees.
In his address Abess reflected on his own graduation from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970 and the tumultuous events of the late 1960s that led up to it. His own commencement speaker called on his class to make the world better. Abess said the message is the same today.
"You need to go out and change the world. You need to make it a better place," said Abess. "Forty years ago our speaker told us what we should do, but he didn't tell us how to do it."
Abess said that the graduates should first learn who they themselves are in order make an impact in the world. He reflected on his own experiences which ranged from everything from jobs in broadcasting, candle making, publishing and real estate to traveling in the Himalayas.
"I believe you make the world a better place by making yourself a better person," said Abess. "It is important you learn who you are. It gets harder to change as you get older. You don't want to reach my age and find yourself reading poems like ‘If I could live my life over again' - because you cannot."
Abess reminded his audience of the support that led them to graduation day - from their families and the faculty and staff of the university. He said the only thing their supporters ask them for in return is that they do their best and that they lead a good life. Abess said that in doing so they would make the world a better place.
"You be strong, have courage, do good in the world, and have a really good time," he added.
The School's undergraduate ceremony was preceded the day before by commencement exercises for nearly 150 School of Business graduate students including those from the main campus as well as those from the Tampa Executive MBA program. Among those participating was Ghislaine Guez, the first graduate of the School's MD/MBA program, which is offered jointly with the Miller School of Medicine.
The graduate students, whose ceremony including those graduating from schools and colleges across campus, heard from commencement speaker William Walker, dean and the University librarian. Under his direction, UM Libraries now rank among the top 50 academic libraries in North America. In his introduction, Board of Trustees member Fred Camner also noted that Walker's accomplishments include the establishment of the Starbucks Coffee store adjacent to the library. In his remarks, Walker pointed to the need for graduates to adapt in an ever changing world.
"Be prepared in a changing environment to reinvent yourselves over and over again," Walker told his audience, adding that the graduates should make learning a lifelong endeavor and embrace diversity. He urged the students to "embrace libraries as a lifelong learning partner," noting that inside their walls are vast amounts of knowledge that can help students "thrive in a global information society."
Walker told students that their advanced degrees will benefit them tremendously, enriching their futures so that they would not have to change jobs so often like average Americans do. But with their lofty diplomas they would have "to learn more and learn faster," he said.
After the ceremony, the newly minted MBAs and other graduates returned to the School for a reception and awards ceremony. Read more about the awards here.
Top undergraduates were also honored in an award ceremony. Read more about the May 12 ceremony here.