Grad Speakers Stress Commitment, Effort

Published on May 25, 2009

Spring 2009 Commencement Speakers Inspire, Motivate Graduating Students

Associate Dean Bob Casey gives an impassioned speech to graduates, holding a signed copy of Ted Bauer’s book, People are the Product, which the Class of 2009 signed at a reception following commencement.

Associate Dean Bob Casey gives an impassioned speech to graduates, holding a signed copy of Ted Bauer’s book, People are the Product, which the Class of 2009 signed at a reception following commencement.

Speakers at the Spring 2009 commencement ceremonies at the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business recalled the college’s history and celebrated its future when they addressed graduates on May 15 and 16.

Associate Dean for External Relations Bob Casey spoke at the Graduate and Professional Programs Commencement, delivering a poignant speech about Ted Bauer, who gifted the college $40 million nearly a decade ago.

“Ted had one incredible impact on this community, this university, and this school,” Casey said. “He created an environment for success that has enabled all of you to be here today.”

Noting Bauer’s love for flying, Casey asked graduates to imagine themselves as pilots of their own jets, looking at a dashboard of 10 gauges spelling out “COMMITMENT,” with each gauge standing for a letter in the word. An ability to communicate, the first letter in Casey’s analogy, is vital for success, as is respect for others, the second letter.

John King (’92), partner with Ernst & Young, LLP, speaks to graduates about the importance of learning from failure and developing a love of lifelong learning.

John King (’92), partner with Ernst & Young, LLP, speaks to graduates about the importance of learning from failure and developing a love of lifelong learning.

“It’s all about people and your service to others,” he said. “A lot of people measure success by material and monetary wealth, but the real winner in life is the one who helps others develop and reach their maximum potential.”

Casey combined the third and fourth letters of “commitment” to discuss the importance of “mental mechanics,” or attitude. “Your positive attitude differentiates you from others, and it will become contagious by others,” he said. “If you think about M&M’s, the candy, remember that you’ve got to see the sweetness in life.”

Casey also spoke about involvement, teams, developing a personal plan for life (“me”), embracing the negative, and thanking others. “You have commitment to excellence, to people, to others, to service and to purpose,” he told graduates. “You are a Bauer Champion.”

Students celebrate as they prepare for the Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony.

Students celebrate as they prepare for the Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony.

John King (’92), a partner with Ernst & Young, LLP, delivered the address to graduates at the Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony the following day. His remarks focused on how to create a winning strategy for business and life.

Learning from failure is an attribute that will prepare graduates to benefit from the “unexpected turns in the road,” King said. “In life, failure is inevitable; it’s the natural product of pushing yourself,” he added. “But much more is learned from failure than from success.”

In addition, King urged graduates to invest in themselves by developing a broad world view. “Learn how other societies work and how others live,” he said. “Our economy is in every sense global. To do well, it’s important to understand how the world works and functions outside our borders.”

A keen sense of curiosity is also needed to succeed, King said. “The learning never stops,” he added. “As you leave this college and university, embrace lifelong learning as a truly important part of your life and career.”

At both commencement ceremonies, students were recognized with achievement awards. Mohammed Potrik received the Outstanding Undergraduate award (see related story), while Shing Lin was named Outstanding Executive MBA Student, Philana Kiely was Outstanding MBA Student, Olivia Sugandhi was Outstanding MS Accountancy Student, and Elo Nnadi was Outstanding MS in Finance Student (see related story).

Paul Peacock (’81), a partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, was also recognized at the Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony as the college’s 2009 Distinguished Alumnus (see related story).

By Jessica Robertson