Commencement Weekend '12 Celebrated Thousands of Cornellians

Johnson and Cornell University Graduates Gathered for Commencement Festivities

Commencement Weekend '12 Celebrated Thousands of Cornellians

Last week’s “Graduation Week” activities and Commencement weekend honored myriad accomplishments of Johnson’s MBA and PhD class of 2012. From launching profitable businesses, to securing promotions and positions at leading organizations around the globe, to exceling in leadership and making Johnson a better place, the graduating class commemorated its business school achievements during various Commencement weekend activities. The culminating events were Johnson’s 65th commencement ceremonies for the Executive MBA Programs and the Residential MBA Programs on Saturday, May 26 as well as Cornell University’s Convocation and its 144th Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 27.

At Saturday’s Johnson Graduate Recognition Ceremonies, Dean L. Joseph Thomas delivered a powerful and personalized Commencement address to graduates. Among the many class accomplishments, he noted that the class of 2012 has enhanced Johnson’s reputation internationally, given back to the community in numerous and varied ways, started new businesses, and achieved personal excellence. He also reminded the graduates of the power they now hold to affect people’s lives and challenged them to use their knowledge, creativity, and critical-thinking skills to influence and lead positive change in their organizations and communities.

“You will be successful yourself; more importantly you have the privilege of affecting other people’s lives, helping organizations, colleagues, and communities to thrive,” he said. “I challenge you to go out into this messy world and manage that privilege with integrity and purpose.”

Saturday’s events included Cornell University’s Convocation, with an address by Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City. Peppered with humor, the cornerstone of Bloomberg’s speech was the power that government and education can have in affecting positive change and shaping history. He noted that this year marks the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862, which was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln and established Cornell and other land-grant universities.

Emphasizing other noteworthy accomplishments and decrees by Lincoln, such as the Emancipation Proclamation, Bloomberg reminded the graduates of the leadership of Lincoln and others that made their Cornell experiences possible.

 “It is not a Republican legacy or a Democratic legacy. It is an American legacy,” Bloomberg said. “The challenge before you, as you go out into the world, is not to preserve that legacy, but to extend it.”

Drawing comparisons to the unprecedented opportunities the Land Grant Act of 1862 created, Bloomberg said he believes that the Cornell NYC Tech Campus – recently born of Cornell’s partnering with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and the City of New York – will help pioneer the economy of tomorrow.

He advised the graduates to understand that career plans will often change, while sharing his own experiences of adapting to new challenges. In conclusion, he encouraged graduates to search for and “find the incredible” in everyday life: new knowledge, insights, experiences, and cultures.

On Sunday, May 27, 2012, in Schoellkopf Field at Cornell’s Commencement ceremony, Cornell President David Skorton conferred all undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate degrees, and addressed about 5,000 graduates.

Like Bloomberg, Skorton made mention of Cornell’s NYC Tech Campus and lauded Charles F. Feeney ‘56, who was in the audience, for his “extraordinary engagement” in helping fund the creation of the NYC Tech Campus. Skorton highlighted Feeney’s remarkable acts of civic and philanthropic engagement, while noting the tradition of service that the graduates’ grandparents – those of “The Greatest Generation” – are renowned for undertaking.  

Skorton also explored how civic engagement and youth volunteering increased during the years 2000 – 2008 and cited the 4,000 hours of community service are collectively completed by Cornell students each year.  

“Recognize that making a living and making a difference in the world are not mutually exclusive undertakings," he said. “You give us hope that tomorrow will be better than today.”

Reflecting on the last week and festivities of Commencement weekend, Student Council Chair Aaron Seabron, MBA ’12, said, “These events have given our friends and family the opportunity to celebrate our individual and collective achievements that have formed our personal journeys over the past two years. It’s a great opportunity to be reminded of all the milestones we’ve accomplished on our business school journeys, and how we have all made an impact on the individual journeys of our fellow classmates.”

In the days leading up to Commencement, Johnson students and their families participated in 22 different “Graduation Week” activities, reflecting on friendships formed and milestones achieved. This year’s events included hiking,  a Lab of Ornithology visit,  golfing, kayaking on Cayuga Lake, a picnic with faculty and staff, and a Cayuga Lake cruise, among other activities.

Students and their families also attended the Dean’s Awards Brunch on Friday, May 25, 2012, where Dean Joe Thomas and Douglas Stayman, Associate Dean for MBA Programs and associate professor of marketing, recognized the special achievements of 68 Johnson graduates.   

Students were honored for demonstrating outstanding leadership, writing business plans deemed most likely to launch successful businesses, shining in both service and academics, and excelling in writing, marketing, oral communications, and in other areas.

“The Dean's Awards Brunch was a wonderful way to celebrate the achievements of my fellow Johnson classmates,” said Giselle Balagat, MBA ’12. “It reminded me how lucky I have been to be surrounded by such talented, giving, and inspiring people over the last two years.”

Complete coverage of Cornell University’s 2012 Commencement events is available online.  


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