I’m very proud to welcome you to the 2013 Mendoza College
Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony.
To call this a “special day” doesn’t begin to describe all
that has gone into your arrival here today. I look out and see our wonderful
graduates, and behind them their proud families and friends. I think of the
hours of work, the study, the sacrifice, the hopes and the dreams that
culminate in this event. So when I say “welcome,” what I really mean is, hurrah
for you. What an accomplishment.
I have attended Notre Dame business school commencements for
13 years—as a professor, a department chair, an associate dean, and as an
interim dean. This is my first time to stand at the podium as the Martin J. Gillen
Dean of the Mendoza College, so this occasion takes on special significance for
And as the Class of 2013, you share in a special honor: Mendoza
has been ranked as the No. 1 undergraduate business school for all four of the
years that you have attended Notre Dame. This is a feat that no other school
When we were first ranked No. 1 by Bloomberg BusinessWeek,
the previous dean Carolyn Woo adopted the tagline that said, “It’s a
responsibility.” The second year we were ranked No. 1, her tagline became
“Responsibility continues.” The third year we were ranked No. 1, as interim
dean I adopted the tagline “Enduring responsibility.” With the latest No. 1
ranking, the tagline is now “Leadership in responsibility.”
These taglines say it all as to what the No. 1 ranking means
to us. It is this responsibility, more so than the ranking itself, that is a
moment of pride, and also of great humility and appreciation. For this kind of
accomplishment is not due to one person; rather it is a testimony to our
mission and our people—our students, our faculty and staff, our alumni and so
many others who support our efforts and encourage our mission of excellence and
I thank you all for your part.
You are about to leave us, and you have to think, what will
the ranking mean as I go out from here and start my career and my family? After
all, rankings change.
Unless you’re the Chicago Cubs.
Let me suggest how you might think of the ranking as an
alumni. Think of it in terms of what doesn’t change. What the students who have
already taken the walk that you are about to take leave to you. What you leave
to those who follow. And that’s the Mendoza College mission.
Throughout the many classes you’ve taken here, you’ve been
challenged to excel. To push. To set a high bar and then surpass it. And not
just in knowledge or skills gained, but how to think critically, and to think
about the big picture.
What’s more, you take with you a view of the world that says
you can change the world for the better. Here at Mendoza College, the challenge
given to us by our founder, Cardinal John O’Hara, is to use business as a force
for good in the human community. It is to utilize the vast power of global
business to fight hunger, disease, illiteracy, and even conflict.
This has been taught to you in some part in every class,
every Mass, and in so many experiences since you first crossed Notre Dame’s
threshold. And this mission is the responsibility that you take with you.
Now we are at the point in most commencements when the
speaker tells you to go out and live your passion. But my charge to you is to
live your responsibility. Remember your faith and ideals. Remember what you’ve
experienced here. And always, remember your Notre Dame family, who will be here
to encourage and help.
I had mentioned part of a quote made by our founding dean
who said business is to be a force for good in the world. And now it is time
for you to go out and be that force.
May God bless you.