Address to Convocation by Dr. Axel Meisen, President and Vice-Chancellor
St. John’s Campus - Session 5
3 p.m., Thursday, May 31
B.Comm (Hons), B.Comm., B.Comm (Hons) (Co-op), B.Comm (Co-op), and MBA
Honorary degree recipient: Timothy Borlase
First of all, I wish to congratulate you, the members of the 2001 graduating class. I also want to extend warm congratulations to your families and friends, many of whom have joined us today.
Your dedicated work has come to a successful conclusion and we celebrate it with great joy. The education provided by Memorial University has enabled you to face future challenges. Without doubt, there will be many such challenges.
For one, just think about the impact of modern information technology, which affects almost every aspect of our lives. Even though you may not be an information technology expert, you have learned to cope with information technology and harness its power. All of you know how to use databases, how to search for library materials and how to communicate by e-mail.
You also know how to use the web. In fact, this year marks the first time our graduating students could register for convocation on the web and I hope that this was convenient for you. This evolving use of the web demonstrates Memorial University’s commitment to using technology so that we can provide ever better services to you, our students.
Information technology at Memorial is, at its most basic, the e-mail system, which we provide to all of our students. But we also have unique services that combine information technology with the joys of learning. Let me tell you about one of them.
As Business students you are familiar with the resources in the undergraduate and graduate microcomputer labs as well as in the teaching labs in the Business Building. In fact, I am sure you have spent many hours there. These labs are equipped with high-speed printers, scanners and Pentium computers.
Students retrieve their course notes and assignments electronically and they submit their course work electronically from home, residences and other university buildings.
However, it is not just the laboratories where information technology is integrated into the learning experience. In fact, almost all classrooms in the Faculty of Business Administration are equipped with state-of-the-art computer technology. It is correct to say that information technology in the Business building is a fundamental part of the students’ learning experience whether they complete a Bachelor or the MBA program.
As graduates of the Faculty of Business Administration, you have all benefited from the learning environment the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have created at Memorial University through hard work over some 75 years. I like to take this opportunity to thank all members of our community, but particularly those with governmental responsibilities, for their continuous and strong support for Memorial University. The support comes not only in the form of money, but also in the form of extraordinary volunteer work. The university benefits enormously from the service provided by external members of committees and boards, including the members of the Board of Regents of which several are here today. To all of them, including parents and family members, I say "thank you" on behalf of the university. Without you, our university could not flourish.
Let me now direct some remarks specifically to our new graduates. You can be confident that your Memorial University degrees symbolize excellent qualifications. Your degrees are highly valued not only in this province, but throughout Canada and the world. Many graduates, who came before you, are now in leadership roles at home and abroad. Their success has prepared the path for you. It is now your challenge to seize the opportunities.
How can you seize the opportunities? I suggest that you consider four basic guidelines.
First, be confident in your abilities while recognizing that others may have better ideas and approaches than you. Listen carefully and accept intelligent advice when careful analysis warrants. Such advice can come from experts and non-experts alike.
Second, be creative and always look for ingenious approaches and solutions. Whereas you can be successful by using existing knowledge, it is innovation that will make you truly special. Innovation will give you the profound satisfaction that comes with accomplishing something that nobody has done before. Do not be concerned when others do not immediately accept your innovative ideas. Innovation often takes times to find general acceptance.
Third, commit yourself to working on big issues – issues, which really do matter. These issues may relate to a community or to all of humanity. Do not be content with interpreting business theories or making minor adjustments to them. Think, for example, about new approaches to regional development, which is based on cultural and educational services, rather than just natural resources. Think about writing the major book or, better yet, a book of web pages that you would like to have had while studying, but just could not find. Chances are that others are also missing it – so, you should and you can write it.
Fourth, and last but not least, dedicate yourself to serving humanity and bettering the human condition. Generously share your knowledge and expertise with others - you will be well rewarded in terms of personal satisfaction and in terms of money. Become engaged in the pressing issues of our time, especially the issues of free and fair trade, global peace and poverty.
You may wonder whether the advice I am have given you is sound and practical. I believe that it is and I draw your attention to Timothy Borlase who will be recognized shortly with the award of an honorary doctorate degree. He has been extraordinarily successful as a creative artist, educator and organizer. I believe that he exemplifies the essence of the advice, which I have just shared with you.
I welcome you all into the family of Memorial University alumni. As new alumni, please keep in touch with us and we will do the same with you. Our Alumni Association is a perfect means through which you can maintain your contacts with Memorial University. Our goal is to continue to offer you educational opportunities and help so that you can achieve your goals. Initially, this may be to secure a job or to gain entry into a graduate program. In future, it may include getting to know other outstanding Memorial University alumni and benefiting from their experiences. We want to maintain the unique bonds which were formed between us over these past years and foster their growth for your and for our benefit. I assure you that all members of Memorial University, faculty, staff, volunteers and fellow alumni alike will continue to support you. Be an active member of our Alumni Association!
Let me conclude by congratulating the new graduates once again and let me now also include Timothy Borlase explicitly in my congratulations.
Best wishes for your future!
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