Robert H. Smith School of Business
University of Maryland
William A. Longbrake
December 19, 2004
Thank you Dean Frank.
Proud parents, friends, guests, faculty … this is a very special day for you and
also for me. We are here to celebrate the achievements of those who are
To the graduates, congratulations! You have reached a seminal point in your
lives. Today marks the successful culmination of a great deal of hard work. But
it also marks the beginning of the next chapter of your lives.
You are graduating from one of the world’s leading business schools. The Smith
School has prepared you well to face whatever challenges await you. Someday
in the future you, like I have today, will return and experience the emotions that
are coursing through me now – emotions of thankfulness for how my Smith
School experience was instrumental in launching a successful career, emotions
of pride in how the Smith School continues to ascend to even greater heights of
excellence, and emotions of respect for the Smith School’s commitment to
change – for the better – the lives of thousands of students and the communities
in which we live and work.
My Smith School experience began in 1969 as a faculty member and a Doctor of
Business Administration student. It was truly a tumultuous time. My first year of
teaching culminated in the spring of 1970 with Viet Nam War riots that led to the
national guard occupying the campus and the cancellation of final examinations.
Times certainly have changed since then. But, in their own way these events
were a significant part, not just of my experience here, but of a broad-based
educational experience that also included rigorous study and learning how to
teach others. All of this prepared me well for what was to come.
For most of you, your lives will take twists and turns that you can hardly imagine
today. Seek out a wide variety of experiences and learn from each of them.