More than 2,500 people from around the globe gathered at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business on Sunday, 19 May for the School's 57th Commencement Exercises.
Darden's Dean Robert F. Bruner presided over the ceremony. In his remarks to the graduates, he said that many commencement speakers this season will urge graduates to "move out, move away and move on." Bruner took the contrarian view and urged them to "hang on, hang in there and make a difference."
"Dive into the challenges of your community. Invest deeply in relationships," he said. "Find your calling with your values and your vision for society."
Among the more than 380 students who graduated this year was the first class of Darden's Global MBA for Executives (GEMBA), an innovative program launched in 2011. GEMBA prepares experienced managers to lead across continents and cultures through on-the-ground training in five regions around the world, including Brazil, China, India, Western Europe and the United States.
GEMBA graduate Marcus Cunningham delivered remarks on behalf of the GEMBA class as the elected student speaker.
"We took a chance as the pioneering first class," Cunningham said. "And along the way, we learned that the world is both flat and lumpy." He urged his classmates to continue to take chances and to seek out great opportunities overseas as global executives.
MBA for Executives graduate Keith Krut then spoke to the crowd about the theme of "Darden: We Connect."
"This is the perfect phrase to describe our experience," he said, explaining how how the graduates have connected at Darden to people, to ideas and even to themselves. "The future will be defined by those who make the most meaningful, the most diverse, the most innovative connections," he said.
Jesse Rosenthal was elected speaker of the Full-Time MBA. He spoke about the Darden community and the team spirit he encountered at the School.
He quoted Babe Ruth: "The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play well together, the club won't be worth a dime."
The Class of 2013 honored two Darden professors by electing them as faculty marshals, who granted degrees and awards and led the procession down the Lawn. They were: J. Harvie Wilkinson Jr. Professor of Business Administration Robert M. Conroy and Professor of Business Administration Luann J. Lynch.
The students also elected James C. Wheat Jr. Professor of Business Administration Brandt R. Allen and Dale S. Coenen Professor of Business Administration E. Richard Brownlee II to serve as honorary faculty marshals.
Finals Weekend for Darden graduates was a three-day event. On Friday night, they gathered with families and friends at a reception in Darden's Wilkinson Courtyard. On Saturday, they laughed with Stephen Colbert, who delivered the 2013 Valedictory Address. Colbert is the co-writer and executive producer of Comedy Central's Emmy and Peabody award-winning series "The Colbert Report." Having toured the Grounds earlier that day, Colbert asked the graduates, "Why are you leaving? This could be the most spectacular place you have ever lived," pointing out that the University is the only college campus designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
On Sunday morning, they participated in the University of Virginia's 184th Final Exercises on the Lawn, presided over by President Teresa A. Sullivan. James Henry "Jim" Webb delivered the keynote address. Webb is a former U.S. senator and Secretary of the Navy, decorated Vietnam War veteran and successful journalist, filmmaker and author.
Towards the conclusion of the ceremony, President Sullivan announced the class gift and pointed out that the Darden School of Business Class of 2013 achieved 100 percent participation. She also announced that the University of Virginia has surpassed the $3 billion goal of the Campaign for the University of Virginia.
President Sullivan conferred degrees on Darden's doctoral and MBA candidates. She urged and challenged the graduates to bring innovation, an entrepreneurial spirit and ethical integrity to their leadership and practice of business administration.
To watch U.Va.'s Final Exercises, visit the University of Virginia's YouTube Channel.
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About the Darden School of Business
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business is one of the world's leading business schools, offering MBA, Ph.D. and Executive Education programs. The unique Darden experience combines the case study method, the highest-ranked faculty whose research advances global managerial practice and business education, and a tight-knit learning environment to develop responsible and complete leaders who are ready to make an impact.
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