Isenberg School of Management

Commencement Celebration
Mullins Center - Amherst, Massachusetts
May 24, 2003

Faculty Commencement Address

Professor Anna Nagurney
John F. Smith Memorial Professor
Department of Finance and Operations Management

It is a great honor and true pleasure to be given the opportunity to address this VERY SPECIAL audience of graduating seniors, their families and friends, distinguished guests, faculty, and staff.

“YOU DID IT!” You overcame ADVERSITY, survived SLEEPNESS nights, braved  SNOWSTORMS,  worked  to exhaustion, to finish and to deliver your homeworks,  to complete your projects, pass your exams,  and to give  your Power Point presentations with class and pizzazz.  This graduating class of the Isenberg School endured the construction of the new building, searched for faculty whose offices had been moved,  welcomed our new chancellor, Dr. Lombardi, and lived through the addition of two new departments, Sports Management, and Hospitality and Tourism Management. Students in the latter departments probably never expected to be graduating from the Isenberg School. You did it in a world filled with new risks and uncertainty.

You, graduates, DID IT!  You stuck to it, and DID IT! Many dream of a college degree but, you students, had the drive, the energy, the concentration, and, most importantly, the work ethic and determination to complete your degrees.

And you did it with style, with a sense of community, and humor, oftentimes, juggling outside jobs, and other commitments. You completed your hard earned degrees and did even more! These Isenberg School graduates led university organizations, interned with major corporations,  volunteered and served the less fortunate, and even  participated in sports and numerous extracurricular activities. You served and will continue to serve as role models for other generations, both young and old.

Some of you hail from old Massachusetts families who have been coming to this University for generations. Others of you are from families who have only recently come to Massachusetts and you are the first  of your family to graduate from College.  Some of you come even from California and New Jersey. For the past 4 (and, in some cases, more!) years you joined together with one purpose… to complete your degrees. You laughed together, sometimes snickering at the professor’s bad jokes, you sweated together, and you made friendships that will last a lifetime.

In my research, I study networks and how they affect all of us. From crossing the perenially under construction Coolidge Bridge  you learned about Transportation Networks; from waiting for a WEB page to download, you became familiar with Telecommunications Networks. From getting money from the ATM machine at the Newman Center (right after your parents had added money into your account), you became familiar with Financial Networks. And you completed your degrees before the Big Dig was finished!

There are two other kinds of networks, social and knowledge, that you participated in at UMass and that will serve as the foundation for your future successes..

In terms of  knowledge networks, as students, you saw, firsthand,  the production of knowledge and its transfer. Through many of your projects you participated in the production and dissemination of knowledge. While it’s hard to believe that there was any knowledge transfer in an 8:00 AM class, there,inevitably, was (although perhaps only subconsciously).

You began to develop and to expand your social network  while at the Isenberg School. By obtaining your degrees,  you are now directly connected to such graduates as Jack Smith, Jr., the Chairman of the Board of General Motors (who was an Operations Management major) and to  Gene Isenberg,  the Chairman of the Board of Nabors Industries (who was an economics major). You are also connected to such UMass grads such as Jack Welch, formerly of GE, to Julius Erving, Dr. J, the sports star, and to Bill Cosby, the movie star!!! …..

Through other nodes of your networks you will find links to those that can provide you with information that you may need in the future. Just think, through the Finance majors you can get  tips as to which stocks to buy (or which to avoid). From the  Accounting majors  you can  find the perfect tax shelter. Your Operations Management friends will make sure that the products you need are manufactured and delivered. Your Marketing colleagues will  help you to market yourselves. From the Management majors you can obtain the optimal strategies. Your HTM friends will help you to plan that perfect getaway and your Sports Management friends will know where to get the best tickets!!

A second part of my research deals with optimization and risk. So far, you are on the optimum trajectory by first enrolling and now completing your ISOM degree. You have also obtained the tools to  understand the risks involved in each of the choices that you will make in the future. Choose the paths that you select carefully, be sure to weigh the criteria in your decision-making, be they profits, costs, time, social, and/or environmental, appropriately, and most of all,  ENJOY the JOURNEY!

I thank you for giving me the opportunity to teach at the great Isenberg School of Management. Without the undergraduate students, I would not have accomplished as much! You challenged me and my colleagues, always questioning, always pushing us to understand more, to give more of ourselves, and to contribute more to our disciplines. You wanted to master the material that we were teaching and demanded clarity and expertise of all of us, professors, since you and the Commonwealth deserved no less.

Now, as you move on, remember NOONE can ever take away your degree from you!!

Go and make a difference and mark in your communities. Make the world a kinder, more caring place. You have the tools, the education,  the personal characteristics, and the  NETWORK to achieve .

Thank you all for this Great Day and Congratulations!!!!