MICHAEL NOWLIS: Friends and family of the graduates, our procession is ready to begin please stand and remain standing as our graduates enter the auditorium. Leading the students into the auditorium will be the faculty marshal Justin Johnson. Please welcome and congratulate the class of 2018.
SPEAKER 1: Students and guests, please remain standing and welcome the Johnson faculty led by Professor Risa Mish.
SPEAKER 2: You're gonna tell them to sit down.
YA-RU CHEN: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
All right. Good morning, everyone. Please be seated. I'm Ya-Ru Chen, American Academic Dean for China initiatives. Welcome to Johnson's MBA and executive MBA commencement ceremony in honor of the class of 2018.
Before we begin the formal portion of the program, I would like to introduce those on stage with me, Savannah Bao, Director of the Tsinghua Program and International Academic Courses, Patrick Feely, Director of Operations, Executive MBA Programs, and, of course, Verne Thalheimer, Executive Director of the Executive MBA Americas Program.
And Mark Nelson, Dean of the Johnson School. Please join me now in welcoming Dean Nelson to the podium to deliver the commencement address.
MARK NELSON: Members of the class of 2018, families, friends, I'm honored to welcome you to the graduation recognition ceremonies for those 71st graduating class of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. This weekend, we recognize the graduates of our executive MBA programs-- 65 from the Cornell Executive MBA in Metro New York, 155 from the Cornell Executive MBA Americas, and 36 from the Cornell-Tsinghua MBA, FMBA program.
We gather today to honor your achievements. Though you represent diverse backgrounds, diverse cultures, you now have one remarkable thing in common. You share a Cornell University MBA degree. Your effort and your dedication have been remarkable. You've pursued your careers while simultaneously pursuing your education.
You've lost sleep. You've gained frequent flyer miles by dedicating your vacation time to trips to Ithaca and other residential locations. And for most of you, this investment has been made by others as well as by yourselves. So let's take a moment to thank those who've provided support along the path to this achievement. Family, friends, members of this community, we thank you.
I'd also like to highlight my faculty and staff colleagues who are with us here today. It's their dedication and their inspiration both inside and outside the classroom that truly defines a Johnson degree. And we all know that an event like this does not occur without many people working behind the scenes in ways that we can only imagine. So please join me in thanking the faculty and staff for all they have done and continue to do to support you and support Johnson.
OK. Enough about them. Let's talk about you. It's perfectly fitting that we celebrate today in a space that physically manifests your efforts to reach new heights, to overcome the incredible obstacles and challenges that you've encountered along your path. Now you've arrived.
By reinforcing your existing skills and experience, by pushing yourselves to investigate new approaches to familiar challenges, by seeing the value of effective collaboration while relishing the competitive environment, by expanding and nurturing networks across your own industries and into others, through innovation and hard work, you've achieved the next level of career success. You've transformed your ambition to your impact.
You've done amazing things along the way. You've balanced existing careers and families and commitments while, for some, starting your own firms or expanding the international reach of existing firms. You've mastered integration. You've mastered collaboration across teams, across disciplines, and across cultures.
But what's truly impressive is the impact that you've already had beyond Johnson and Cornell. I'd like to highlight just a few examples of the many projects and innovations that this class has created that so effectively manifest the qualities of a Johnson MBA-- experiential learning, collaboration, excellence.
The executive MBA Metro New York students spent a semester innovating in the elder care market, building a deep empathy for the needs of our older adults and developing new solutions. One teen addressed the conundrum faced by many elderly, the need to use smartphones to function and to stay connected. These folks are struggling with the technology. Many view this is an obvious problem and applied solutions that were at hand, like technical support call centers.
The Metro team went the extra mile. They actually went out and held multiple classes for seniors and played to packed houses. In this customer discovery, they learned that phone support does not work for these seniors and that for older people, using a smartphone is important. It impacts motivation, a sense of community, social relationships, and independence. All of these are central to happiness.
The team designed offerings to meet these many needs for these seniors, as well as teaching them how to get the most out of their smartphones and, in contrast to a call center, created classes that were important social affairs.
Another example. A Los Angeles based teams from our Americas Program were engaged by the government of Paraguay to undertake an end-to-end analysis and make recommendations for the Paraguayan beef industry.
The scope of the project was to analyze the current beef industry structure, worldwide competitive's position, and establish a global expansion plan, which included further penetrating current markets but also entering new markets to further develop Paraguay's unique position as a leader not only in natural grass fed beef production, but also responsible global citizenship through co-ordinated carbon and climate change initiatives. On March 12, 2018, the Paraguayan minister of industry and commerce announced to the Paraguayan press that this team's report would be the strategic plan for the nation moving forward.
Another example. A team including students from the Cornell-Tsinghua program won a hackathon at the Cornell Tech campus in which students were tasked with developing ideas to improve jd.com's position in China's e-commerce industry. The winning solution was the creation of an online negotiating tool called a joy bot through which consumers could seek lower prices.
The online robot would also allow jd.com to glean information from its customers' preferences, which would inform its dynamic pricing model. jd.com has instituted this team's recommendation. They were thrilled with the ideas produced by the hackathon, and they returned enthusiastically this year to sponsor the competition once again.
These are just three of many, many examples, many innovative ideas, products, and technologies that the class here today brought to life during your time at Johnson. You were already successful before starting your EMBA, and then while pursuing that degree and continuing with your degrees, you have produced much needed ideas, products, and services. Your future impact will be remarkable.
I'd also like to highlight another way in which you've already made an impact. Each generation of Johnson students benefits from those who came before, just as you have supported one another and Johnson in so many ways as students. You've also distinguished yourselves through contributions to our annual fund.
Across the three programs represented today, over $60,000 has been donated. And even more impressive are the participation rates produced by your classes, with 226 and counting participating this year. So would everyone please join me in applauding the achievements as well as the generosity and dedication of this wonderful class?
Growth and innovation will remain constant for Johnson and I know for you. Please continue to invest in yourselves and to challenge yourselves to take risks. Please continue to make a positive impact on the world and the people around you, as you have done so successfully here at Johnson. The need is great for your leadership and your talent and your expertise.
But perhaps most important, please continue to be there for each other, as you have been during your Johnson program. You're joining an alumni community of more than 15,000 Johnson graduates, almost 40,000 SC Johnson College of Business graduates, and over 250,000 proud Cornellians, all bleeding Cornell red and all part of your extended family.
At Johnson, we have each other's backs. We propel each other forward. And that applies to this broader alumni community as well. Countless alumni have told me how much the Johnson network has meant to them personally and professionally throughout their entire careers.
So please make the resolution to stay engaged with your class and with the school. Attend at least one alumni event next year. Don't drift away from this remarkable community. Immerse yourself in it as you have with your degree program. My pledge is that we will be there for you as well.
Thus far, you've been mostly engaged with the students in your specific program. But what brings us together from the first orientation session to the present day is shared membership in the Johnson and Cornell communities. So trust that the connections you've made here will last a lifetime and can continue to bring you rich rewards both personally and professionally.
Because as of today, as members of this community, you're together receiving the very powerful results of your unique experience, an MBA degree from Cornell University. We are immensely proud of you. All assembled, please help me congratulate the class of 2018.
YA-RU CHEN: Thank you, Dean Nelson. I would now like to recognize the symbol of banner bearers, [? Gay ?] Taylor and Dean [? Vo ?] for the university commencement processional on Sunday. Please stand and be recognized.
Next, the 2018 class representatives from the Cornell Executive MBA Metro New York Program and the class agent, please stand and be recognized. Thank you for taking on this important role for your class.
Now the 2018 class co-agents from the Cornell Executive MBA Americas Program, please stand and be recognized. Thank you for all that you have done for your class in this important roles.
Finally, student council members of the Cornell-Tsinghua dual degree MBA program and class agent, please stand and be recognized. Thank you for supporting this important role.
MICHAEL NOWLIS: At this time, we'd like to recognize those faculty members who have been selected by the students to receive program specific teaching awards. The Cornell-Tsinghua Dual Degree MBA Star Professor Teaching Award goes to Professor Ya-Ru Chen. Congratulations, Ya-Ru.
YA-RU CHEN: Thank you, Mike, and thank you, the second class of the Cornell-Tsinghua dual degree program for nominating me for this award. [NON-ENGLISH] OK, now please help me to make a few points. First, this is a start award not just for me, but for all the Johnson leaders, such as Mark Nelson, Andrew Karolyi, [? Visho ?] [? Gar, ?] Mike Nowlis, [? Das ?] [? Damen, ?] and the faculty and staff willing to answer the call to participate in this young program.
And this is, of course, the start award for you, the amazing student body that not only replicated the success of the inaugural group, but also extended the strong foundation they had built for us. And thanks to your high engagement in the classroom, we are now able to expand and sustain the teaching interest from the star teachers at Johnson School.
The second point I would like to make is to encourage you, our graduating class, to be leaders in all aspects of your life. You are the group that actually started the speaker series and all the many forums inside school and also outside. Right? And all the knowledge you share with each other and the influence you have created inside, outside Johnson school, Tsinghua University, and also the broader China markets for us has been amazing. I have learned a great deal from you all. And then the program, of course, has been strengthened as a result.
Moving forward, I hope you exercise the same leadership spirit to make a positive difference in all of your communities, which includes setting high standards to engage each other and the future generations of the alumni group of this program in the future. Your influence has been enormous and will continue to be so.
Finally, through teaching and actually practicing I teach, I hope I have become a more resilient learner and a better teacher. So a big thank you to my colleagues at Johnson for years of support for what I do, and thank you, the second class of the Cornell-Tsinghua program, for being the best partners one can ever ask for in a new venture.
MICHAEL NOWLIS: Congratulations. And please join me and congratulating Yaniv Grinstein for receiving the Metro New York Globe Award for Teaching Excellence.
Professor Grinstein could not be with us today, but he sends you his thanks. The 2018 recipient of the America Star Award for Teaching Excellence goes to Professor Rob Bloomfield. Congratulations, Rob.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Yeah, thank you. It really means a lot to me that you found an accounting course worthwhile.
And I love to take the credit because it means I get to speak to you for the first time really face to face. So let me say also a couple words. Really, it's that more than most courses, this course is really a team effort. It's because of the technology. So we rely on the people in the studios. Steve and Helen and Jen and Kali are the ones that keep everything every day working smoothly together.
We rely on the program directors who help all these distant locations work together. We rely on your group, the team coaches, to keep all of you working smoothly together. And all of that matters. We rely on so many of you in the back of the room who somehow find a way to support these students as they keep working in their jobs, deal with their families, continue working with charities, churches, all sorts of things.
And then finally, of course, it's the students yourselves because I make you do so much of the decision making in the course. It's very decentralized. You choose what topics you're going to pick from what I call the all you can eat buffet. You decide what material is going to help you improve your workplaces, improve your families, even your politics, your hobbies.
I know because I read these one page memos and these blog posts. So I was checking on Blackboard, and I saw it between the two classes represented here, well over something like 1,700 memos and blog posts I read. And, boy, that's a lot of work. So I pass more off on you, and in particular, this was my experiment with relaxing a little on the control and letting you comment on one another's memos.
And this had a remarkable effect on the quality of your work. Apparently, it is more important that you impress one another than that you impressed me. That is the way it should be because-- while the curriculum and the faculty are sort of the skeleton of these programs, it's you, the students, working together that is the beating heart of the program.
And I want to leave you with the thought that there's a reason today is called commencement, because it's a beginning. It's a beginning of a new life that you are going to lead together in a way that you didn't live together three years ago. So I wish you the best of luck as you move forward. I hope you'll continue using the lessons of what counts and what gets counted. And I look forward to seeing you at the reception. Congratulations, and thanks again.
VERNE THALHEIMER: Good morning. My name is Verne Thalheimer, and I'm very pleased to be here to announce the names of all the students graduating in the Executive MBA Americas and Executive MBA Metro New York Programs. Before we get started, I just want to go over a couple of quick process details.
First, for family and friends wishing to take pictures of your graduate, please wait until you see them stand up before approaching the stage. Otherwise, it'll quickly get crowded up here. Second, there's a designated area right there for you to take a quick photo as your graduate crosses the stage.
Please use that space, and be mindful of others who also wish to use that space, as well as the flow of students coming to and from the stage. Thanks for your help with assisting us with an orderly flow of traffic. At this time, I ask that the Executive MBA Americas graduates please stand and come forward to be honored.
Yep. Thank you.
Congratulations to all of our Executive MBA Americas graduates.
YA-RU CHEN: I know, your turn.
VERNE THALHEIMER: I now ask that the Executive MBA Metro New York graduates please stand and come forward to be honored.
Congratulations to all of our Executive MBA Metro New York graduates.
SAVANNAH BAO: I'm Savannah Bao, the director of Tsinghua program and international academic courses.
YA-RU CHEN: They cannot hear you. You have to be louder. Speak up.
SAVANNAH BAO: It's now time to honor our degree recipients. I ask that the Cornell-Tsinghua Dual Degree MBA graduates please stand and come to the stage to be honored.
MICHAEL NOWLIS: They're here. They're here.
YA-RU CHEN: They're here. OK, good, good, good. OK. Are we done? OK.
Congratulations to all of our graduates. You have achieved a great deal and should be very proud of your many accomplishments. You are a remarkable class, and we'll miss seeing you in the boardroom, at Palisades, in the classroom, and on the Cornell campus. Please keep in touch as you progress through your lives and your careers.
MICHAEL NOWLIS: Although we've gathered here today to recognize the graduates, we also want to recognize the families and friends who have joined us today. A very special thank you to you for having made this achievement possible. Thank you for your support, your patience, and your understanding.
YA-RU CHEN: All the parents!
I got to speak some Chinese.
MICHAEL NOWLIS: Finally, join me in thanking the many staff and volunteers who are here on this holiday weekend to make this a very special occasion for you.
We couldn't have done it without our volunteers. Thank you. In closing, I'd like to remind you of the remaining events for the weekend. At 11:30 today for the Executive MBA Metro in New York graduates and families, please join us for the graduation reception and luncheon at Appel Common. Graduates, families, and friends are welcome to join us. Parking is available on site. We look forward to seeing you there.
YA-RU CHEN: Following the ceremony today, there is a luncheon for Cornell-Tsinghua Dual Degree MBA graduates and families. Please join us for the graduation luncheon at the Breazzano Family Center for Business Education. This luncheon is open to all Cornell-Tsinghua graduates and their guest.
Now remember, tomorrow is when you officially graduate. The university commencement ceremony will be held in Schoellkopf Stadium. All Johnson graduates need to line up in front of Morrill Hall on the R squad at 9:15 AM dressed in your regalia. Your friends and family should go directly to the stadium.
The procession will begin at 9:45 AM, with the Johnson graduates arriving at the stadium around 10:15 AM, with the official ceremony beginning at 11:00 AM. If there are thunderstorms tomorrow, as the forecast indicates, the severe weather plan could be enacted and the ceremony delayed or moved indoors. Details will be announced starting at 8:00 AM at www.cornell.edu.
If the ceremony is moved indoors to Barton Hall, it will be for students only with a start time of 10:30 AM. Families may watch the ceremony remotely at locations across campus, including Sage Hall. Please refer to the Cornell website for more information on the severe weather plan. You will be able to return your regalia to marked locations through out campus immediately following the ceremony.
MICHAEL NOWLIS: Graduates, this may be the last time you gather all together in the same place at the same time. However, as alumni of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, you join a large inclusive community and play a critical role in the future of the school. I encourage you to stay in touch with each other and to stay in touch with us.
We trust that Johnson and Cornell will continue to be instrumental in realizing your goals and that the friendships you forged during your study will last a lifetime. Once again, congratulations to the class of 2018.
YA-RU CHEN: Now I would like to ask The Men of the Last Call to come to the stage to perform a song and lead us in singing the Alma Mater. You'll find the words on the back of your program.
LAST CALL: (SINGING) Do, ba, do, ba, do. Do, do, do, do, do, do, do.
Sometimes in our lives, we all have pain. We all have sorrows. But if we are wise, we know that there's always tomorrow. Lean on me when you're not strong and I'll be your friend. I'll help you carry on, for it won't be long till I'm going to need somebody to lean on.
If there is a load that you have to bear that you can't carry, you know that I'm right up the road. I'll bear your load if you just call on me. Lean on me when you're not strong, and I'll be your friend. I'll help you carry on, for it won't be long till I'm going to need somebody to lean on.
So just call, oh, me, brother. Whoo! When you need a hand. We all need somebody to lean on. I just might have a problem that you'll understand. We all need somebody to lean on. Lean on me. Lean on me when you're not strong, and I'll be your friend. I'll help you carry on, for it won't be long till I'm going to need somebody to lean on.
Break it down now. Ba, ba, ba, ba, ba. We be jamming. We be jamming. Ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba. And spanking. And spanking. Ba, ba, ba ba, ba, ba. We are Last Call. Ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba.
Ain't nothing going to break my stride. Nobody going to slow me down. Oh, no. I got to keep on moving. Ain't nothing going to break my stride. I'm running, and I won't touch the ground. Oh, no. I got to keep on-- lean on me when you're not strong, and I'll be your friend. I'll help you carry on, for it won't be long till I'm going to need somebody to lean on.
SPEAKER 3: Hello, everyone. Thank you guys so much for having us here. Again, we are Last Call. First of all, congratulations on your graduation. Round of applause.
So if you like what you heard, we're Last Call. You can find us on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Facebook, everywhere you can. But right now, could you guys all rise and join us for the Alma Mater?
SPEAKER 4: One, two, three.
LAST CALL: (SINGING) Far above Cayuga's waters with its waves of blue stands our noble Alma Mater, glorious to view. Lift the chorus. Speed it onward. Loud her praises tell. Hail to thee, our Alma Mater. Hail, all hail Cornell.
Far above the busy humming of the bustling town, reared against the arch of heaven looks she proudly down. Lift the chorus. Speed it onward. Loud her praises tell. Hail to thee, our Alma Mater. Hail, all hail Cornell.
SPEAKER 5: Sorry about that.
YA-RU CHEN: Oh, yeah, thank you so much.
SPEAKER 5: OK. Are we good? All right. OK.
YA-RU CHEN: All right. Please remain standing for the recessional of our faculty and graduates. Thank you, and have a wonderful weekend and amazing future. Dean Nelson will lead the faculty.
Are they going to-- I think they're going to play the music.
MICHAEL NOWLIS: I know. I know. And actually, they didn't have the music loud enough when they were coming in.
YA-RU CHEN: You should tell them. Yeah, OK, now here it comes.
MICHAEL NOWLIS: Finally. Better late than never.
YA-RU CHEN: Yeah.
SPEAKER 6: I want to take picture.
SPEAKER 7: Yeah, I want it.
SPEAKER 8: Yeah, I agree with this. Now let me get a picture of you.
MICHAEL NOWLIS: You look like you're speaking to the group.
YA-RU CHEN: All right. You'll be my PR person.
Yeah, OK, I'll send it to you.
MICHAEL NOWLIS: Yeah, I'll send you yours. This OK? Speaking.
YA-RU CHEN: It's my order. Thank you.
MICHAEL NOWLIS: Got it. Thank you.
SPEAKER 9: That's the last group?
SPEAKER 10: Yeah.
SPEAKER 9: I'm assuming this is the very last one.
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The Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management honored its Executive and Cornell-Tsinghua MBA program graduates on May 26, 2018.