University of Southern California

USC Marshall Marks Commencement 2009
Marshall Satellite Ceremonies Celebrate Educational Milestones of 2009 Graduating Classes
May 26, 2009 • by Mike Martinez

Inside the cardinal-and-gold-draped Galen Center filled with cheering families, 990 business majors were awarded bachelor's degrees, 350 graduates from the Leventhal School of Accounting were awarded their bachelor's and master's degrees and 758 graduates were awarded their MBAs last Friday in three satellite ceremonies for the USC Marshall School of Business, as part of the University of Southern California’s 126th annual commencement.

The three Marshall programs included students who had graduated in December as well as those expected to graduate in August, but joined this month's annual ceremony.

The day was unmistakably celebratory, with students practicing a 21st Century ritual of using cell phones from the Galen floor to call parents in the stands and exchange waves during the processional. Both parties held pocket digital cameras to photograph and videotape the educational milestone.

Throughout ceremonies, guest speakers acknowledged what kind of world awaits the Class of 2009: the economy is in recession. But as the next generation of business leaders, the graduates were urged to use their education to overcome the challenge.

In welcoming the new graduates and their families at the undergraduate program, USC Marshall Dean James Ellis declared the moment the third biggest day in life, after getting married and having kids.

"Commencement means beginning, and we're here to witness the beginning of your next chapter," Ellis said, noting that the youngest of his five children was also graduating that day.

Commencement speaker Mark R. Goldston, chairman, president and CEO of the consumer internet firm United Online, Inc., struck an optimistic note despite the current state of the economy saying, "This will clear up and there are shining days ahead, and then there will be cloudy days and you will fight through it," Goldston said, pointing out that his twin sons were among those receiving their bachelor’s degrees from Marshall.

"You guys are about to get off the chair lift at Career Mountain," Goldston said. Each student will determine his or her career path - in the corporate, small-business or entrepreneurial world - depending on how much risk and reward they want.

"You're going to have a long, productive, magical mystery tour of a career," he stated. "You think you are in our hands. The reality is, we're in your hands.

"Be productive. Be better every day. And most importantly, be happy. You've got to enjoy what you're doing with your life," Goldston concluded. "Make us the greatest economy in the world once again."

Before receiving his bachelor's in business administration, student speaker Michael Thomsen told classmates they shared many unforgettable moments, such as three Rose Bowls.

He then gave them an assignment: make something of your life.

"It's not for the class. It's for you," Thomsen said. "It's up to you to craft your own story."

The Leventhal School of Accounting commencement was held later in the day in Alumni Park, where Dean Randolph Beatty told accounting students they should feel "a strong sense of pride."

"Enrollments are stronger than ever, and students are getting brighter every year," Beatty said.

Leventhal commencement speaker Douglas Wride, who is president and COO of the internet security software maker Websense Inc. of San Diego, showed emotion as he related how parents feel enormous pride over a child's college graduation. A 1976 USC accounting graduate, Wride has four children.

"It is the best day that a parent ever has," Wride said.

His advice to graduates was to maintain their professionalism.

"Integrity - that's my warning," Wride said. "I caution you because it will be challenged weekly, if not daily. No one can take your integrity away from you. You give it away."

Student speaker Rebecca Dunek, who received bachelor's and master's degrees in accounting, said graduation was "one of the greatest accomplishments of our lives."

"Yes, we worked hard," Dunek said. "But we also played hard and made great friends along the way."

The final program, held in the evening at the Galen Center, belonged to the MBA recipients.

In her welcoming remarks, Associate Dean Cherie Scricca noted how the tradition of caps and gowns extended back to the 1600s when clerics wore them as part of their vows.

"It's a night of connection, bringing past to present and hopefully the present with the future," Scricca said.

But the future executives and managers were told they were entering "a different world today" where "jobs are scarce and people not trusting the business world," Dean Ellis said, urging the graduates to work to regain the public trust.

The MBA commencement speaker, Harvey Mackay, entrepreneur and best-selling author of "Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," outlined several values worth heeding:

Education: "Learning is a lifelong occupation."

Networking: 70 percent of all jobs are found through it.

Adversity: Disciplined companies will weather the recession, the worst adversity since the Depression.

Change: Today's graduates will see at least 10 to 12 job changes over their careers.

Ethics: "Always act as if your mother is watching because your mother wants you to succeed."

Success: "Being rich isn't about money. Being rich is a state of mind." That is, find time away from work and enjoy life's pleasures, like "eating the heart of a watermelon," he said.

For more on the USC Marshall 2009 commencement click here

About USC Marshall School of Business
Based in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California, at the crossroads of the Pacific Rim, the USC Marshall School is the best place to learn the art and science of business. The school's programs serve nearly 5,000 undergraduate, graduate, professional and executive-education students, who attend classes in facilities at the main Los Angeles campus, as well as satellite facilities in Irvine and San Diego. USC Marshall also operates a Global MBA program in conjunction with Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, China.

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.