Despite an uncertain economic climate, graduates will succeed in both business and life if they approach challenges creatively, said speakers at the Fall 2008 University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business commencement ceremonies.
The graduate commencement ceremony, held Dec. 19, featured keynote speaker Richard E. Wainerdi, president, CEO and COO of the Texas Medical Center. Houston Mayor Bill White also offered advice to the audience and recognized four students receiving their MBA degrees who are current or former Houston City Council members or members of his staff.
Melvyn Wolff (’53), who is chairman of the board for Star Furniture and a member of the UH Bauer Dean’s Executive Board, addressed students at the undergraduate commencement ceremony held on Dec. 20.
Each speaker discussed the power of a degree and perhaps more importantly, the value the public places on individuals who seek higher learning. “You represent the best in our society in which we have thrown the doors to higher education wide open,” White told graduates. “We’ve opened these doors to all. We can truly say that these graduates are the best of our society.”
In his address to undergraduates, Wolff agreed, acknowledging the downturn in the economy before explaining that the situation is not necessarily a cause for recent college graduates to worry. “The world that awaits you is different from what greeted the last graduating class, and I suspect it will be different from the next,” he said. “The stimulus for change is itself changing everyday.”
“But there’s a flipside to this,” Wolff added. “In each challenge, there will be a hidden opportunity for those clever enough to find it. When the world looks easy, and everything is on an upswing, it is much harder to unseat the protectors of the status quo. Fresh, innovative ideas carefully implemented will carry the day.”
He then challenged the graduating students to use their newly gained experience and education to give back to others. “You must know that to whom so much is given, so much is expected,” Wolff said. “Make a commitment to yourself to experience the joy of sharing your good fortune. There is no better feeling than the satisfaction of making a difference in the lives of others.”
Wolff and his wife Cyvia are longtime philanthropists in the Houston community and recently made a significant contribution to Bauer College’s undergraduate entrepreneurship program, which is now called the Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship, the #1 ranked program of its kind in the United States.
Wainerdi also challenged graduating students to apply their education to make a difference in others’ lives. “The most important is to change the paradigm,” he said. “At the Texas Medical Center we do ‘sickness care.’ We are going to have to change the paradigm to ‘health care.’ How can we use the skills you learned in your MBA program and use it in a way that provides to those in the future the health care they deserve?”
In addition to giving back, Wolff encouraged graduates to find perspective in their lives and not to be so focused on attaining professional success. “Money and riches will come, but let your life find balance,” he said. “Nothing is accomplished hurrying through your life, missing what is good and true.”
By Jessica Robertson and Hannah Eastham
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.
About the Bauer College of Business
The C.T. Bauer College of Business has been in operation for more than 60 years at the University of Houston main campus. Through its five academic departments, the college offers a full-range of undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees in business. The Bauer College is fully accredited by the AACSB International – the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. In August 2000, Houston business leader and philanthropist Charles T. (Ted) Bauer endowed the College of Business with a $40 million gift. In recognition of his generosity, the college was renamed the C.T. Bauer College of Business.