Graduates at Bentley University’s Commencement Ceremonies Urged to Compete Like Olympians and Build Authentic Relationships
Keynote speaker Scott A. Blackmun, chief executive officer of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), compared graduates at Bentley’s 96th undergraduate commencement to a U.S. Olympic Team entering the Olympic Stadium to compete with the best in the world.
Approximately 7,000 people attended the ceremony on May 16, 2015. “No matter how long you live, no matter how far you travel, no matter how much you achieve, this day will always remain a milestone in your life.” He urged graduates to be prepared for their expectations to be challenged, referencing his experiences at Dartmouth College battling for the first seat as starting goalkeeper for the men’s soccer team (and not always winning) and being passed over for a post as CEO of USOC. “I was disappointed, but I did get back up.”
Skills learned at Bentley, he said, fall under the same doctrine that guides top athletes. “The values this institution sought to cultivate in each of you — diversity, integrity, excellence, courage and teamwork — are values we seek to instill in every single Olympian and Paralympian who represents our country. They’re a key part of the formula for success in life … that will help you to make your choices — to choose right in life — and help you get back up when you’ve been knocked down.”
The best athletes and the best leaders, he added, understand a philosophy coined by UCLA coach John Wooden: “Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”
He also encouraged graduates to hold character higher than reputation, and to measure success by the self-knowledge that you did your best.
Emphasizing the support of family, friends and coaches, he concluded: “As you leave Bentley today — with your eyes fixed firmly on the future — don’t forget to look back every now and then and thank all of those who loved you, believed in you and helped you to get here ... Be humble. Be grateful. Be careful.”
Blackmun received an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree at the ceremony.
Laura Sen, president and chief executive officer of BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc., delivered the keynote address at the Graduate School of Business 40th annual commencement ceremony.
She encouraged graduates to continually think about what makes them happy. “My most meaningful accomplishments … aren’t on my résumé, and my guess is that 30 years from now, yours won’t be either,” she said, reflecting on a career path that took her from executive trainee at Jordan Marsh 1978 to CEO of BJ’s Wholesale Club in 2009.
Sen recognized the digital age as an opportunity to use technology to not only drive business success, but to make valuable connections with others. “ … think about people, think about those connections, and think about the résumé of your life. Connecting with people authentically will be the foundation of your greatest accomplishments.”
The challenge, she added, will be choosing how, when and with whom to connect. “Figuring out how to manage your time and what is important are the hard decisions; and you need to make them conscious decisions, or your life, and your time and your résumé will get away from you.”
She concluded with principles that have guided her through her life:
- Be your best self, and your inner goodness and talent will shine.
- Be positive; find something good about everything.
- Be honest; truth telling is the foundation of trust, and trust is the foundation of lasting, meaningful and rich relationships.
- Be humble. Listen more than you talk and give freely of yourself.
- Don’t worry about things you cannot control. Spend your time and energy on finding solutions.
- Laugh a lot. Life is serious, but it’s also very funny. A lightness of being will make your journey much easier and it will act as a magnet for others to want to be with you.
“Revel in the world we enjoy, with technology at your fingertips to make connections for the moment and for a lifetime.”
Sen received an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree.
ABOUT THE GRADUATES
At the undergraduate ceremony, 1,038 bachelor of science degrees, 20 bachelor of arts degrees, four associate degrees and four certificates were awarded to 1,066 students. (Figures include degrees and certificates conferred October 24, 2014, February 27, 2015, and May 16, 2015.)
At the Graduate School of Business ceremony, seven doctoral degrees, 427 master of science degrees, one master of science in business research, 203 master of business administration degrees, eight dual MS/MBA degrees, and 96 certificates were granted to 640 graduate students. (Students may earn multiple degrees and certificates so may be counted more than once. Figures include degrees and certificates conferred October 24, 2014, February 27, 2015, and May 16, 2015.)
FACULTY AND STUDENT AWARDS
The Gregory H. Adamian Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to William Schiano, professor of computer information systems, and Stephen O’Leary, adjunct lecturer in accountancy. The Bentley University Award for Excellence in Scholarship was presented to Marcia Cornett, Robert A. and Julia E. Dorn Professor of Finance. The Joseph M. Cronin Award for Excellence in Academic Advising and Mentoring was given to Gregory Hall, associate professor of psychology.
Student honorees included Kathryn A. Squillace, winner of the Professor Robert J. Weafer Award for Undergraduate Academic Excellence. The Professor E. William Dandes Award for Graduate Academic Excellence went to Yujun Liu.