Ask More of Business

Asking More Commentary: Perspectives from Mendoza College of Business

Commentary Post - Roger D. Huang

Mendoza College 2013 Undergraduate Commencement Speech

May 19, 2013

Good afternoon.

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 me.

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 has accomplished.

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 values-based education.

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.