Archive for the ‘commencement’ Category

Dwight DavidIkeEisenhower was the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961. During World War II he was a five-star general in the United States Army, and served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe.   An often overlooked fact is that Ike served as President of Columbia University from 1948 to 1953.

The following story, told by Dr. Tony Alessandra, highlights some of the humility (and humor) that accompanies the role of academic administrator.

At that time, there was a Professor at Columbia named Isidore Rabi, who had worked on the development of the atomic bomb and who subsequently won the Nobel Prize. At a faculty ceremony in honor of the professor’s achievement, Eisenhower made a brief speech. It included a remark about how it was always good to see an employee of the university get recognized. At that point, Professor Rabi interrupted him and said, “Excuse me, sir, but the faculty are not employees of the university. The faculty are the university!” 

I have to agree with Dr. Rabi on this one.   I try never to forget that the “heart and soul” of the university is its faculty!
– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe
[note: for a list of famous university presidents, including Dwight Eisenhower, see the blog post “List of Famous University Presidents (United States)“.]
[note: for more on the life of Isidor Isaac Rabi, see the “Isidor Rabi Living Legacies article” in the Columbia University Magazine, Summer 2001.]

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At our commencement ceremony this year we had two speakers – the Dean and the Outstanding Faculty Member for the College of Business.  Both speakers wished to leave the graduates with “a list”.   Following are their lists:

College of Business Dean

  1. Focus on things that matter.  Don’t let others define your success.
  2. Follow your passion and interests.
  3. Give back to your university in time, talent and money.
  4. Define your core values and stick to them.  What is non-negotiable in your life?  Write them down.
  5. Be a giver not a taker.  Be a mentor.
  6. Focus on results not on who gets the credit.
  7. Become a student of leadership.  Be an authentic leader.

Outstanding Faculty Member

  1. Of thyself be demanding.
  2. To thyself be true.

Both speakers made outstanding points.  What do you think?

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