Saturday, May 15, 2010

Graduation Time -- Let Them Fly on Their Own Wings

This time of year is when many college graduations and associated events and festivities take place.

Yesterday, UMass Amherst awarded graduate degrees at the Mullins Center and we had a nice group from the Isenberg School officially receiving their PhD degrees.

Today, on a simply gorgeous spring day, undergraduate degrees will be awarded at a joint campus event, which will be followed by individual school events, including one at the Isenberg School of Management. I am looking forward to seeing my Operations Management students graduate! They have all worked very hard and have had the advantage of a challenging curriculum with great professors. Our students are a delight to teach.

The undergraduate commencement speaker will be Sheila Bair, the Chairwoman of the FDIC, who is officially on leave from my department (Finance and Operations Management at the Isenberg School of Management), where she had a faculty appointment for a few years. UMass Amherst issued a nice press release on her being back to speak at commencement.

She, along with Mary Schapiro and Elizabeth Warren, are featured on the latest cover of Time Magazine, with an accompanying article, The New Sheriffs of Wall Street. In the article, former Senator Bob Dole, who was her mentor, is quoted as saying that Sheila "was available 24/7." In addition, he is quoted as saying: As my wife will tell you, more is expected of women. Dole, in 1990, encouraged Sheila to run for an open House seat in Kansas. She ran as a pro-choice Republican and lost narrowly. Senator Dole told me the reason I lost was because I was a woman and I was unmarried, Bair recalled last year, on accepting the Profiles in Courage Award at Harvard University. That made me all the more determined to take on new challenges. Sheila is now married and has two children, including an adopted daughter. She still very much enjoys coming back to Amherst (which, I must say is primarily Democratic).

I agree with Dole's statement that, more is expected of women; nevertheless, we can still be major instruments of change, whether through government, scientific research and discoveries, business, engineering, medicine and healthcare, creative arts, media, and/or education, or, however, we and our family members and students, decide to fly on our own wings.

So, congratulations to all of this year's college graduates!