With its first Cornell Tech M.B.A. degree candidates, a 1953 alum finally attending Commencement and an impressive class gift, this year's graduating class from the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management had much to celebrate at its Graduate Recognition Ceremony May 23 in Bartels Hall.
The ceremony recognized six Ph.D. and 380 M.B.A. candidates, including 39 students who in May 2014 entered the inaugural one-year M.B.A. program, spending the summer in Ithaca and the next two semesters at Cornell Tech in New York City. The intensive, full-time program fuses business, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.
"You came to Cornell from 37 countries," said Soumitra Dutta, the Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean of Johnson, addressing the school's degree candidates. "And though you represent diverse backgrounds and cultures, you all now have one very powerful thing in common: A Cornell M.B.A. or Ph.D. Congratulations and well done!"
Dutta highlighted the entrepreneurial spirit of the Class of 2015, noting a number of award-winning start-up ventures students had conceived; their commitment to service by helping military personnel transition from service to college, teaching coding to youth on Roosevelt Island and serving on the boards of local nonprofits; and the leadership abilities they have gained.
"At Johnson we believe that more can be done to improve the world of business and that business should do more to improve the world," he said. "Your connections, your knowledge, your ability to collaborate and to lead – use them to change business and the world for the better."
After the hooding of doctoral candidates, Barbara Mink, senior lecturer of management communication, and Douglas Stayman, associate dean and associate professor of marketing, prepared to read the names of the M.B.A. candidates. First, however, Amanda Shaw, assistant dean for student services at Johnson, called Calvin Graziano, Cornell Class of 1953, to the stage. Graziano had been unable to participate in his commencement ceremony in 1954, when he earned his M.B.A., Shaw said. He got married that day to Diane Johnston Graziano '53 before heading off to join the military. "Today, we are so pleased to be able to honor Cal's academic achievements, and thank him for his service to our country," Shaw said. Graziano received a standing ovation.
The celebration also highlighted a number of award winners. Dutta presented Johnson's faculty research award to Gideon Saar, professor of finance. Class of 2015 graduates Anne Keyes and Safiya Miller presented the Class of 1992 Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching to Mark Nelson, the Eleanora and George Landew Professor of Accounting; Matthew Windt presented the inaugural Cornell Tech M.B.A. Award for Excellence in Teaching to Greg Pass, chief entrepreneurial officer at Cornell Tech. Student award winners were also recognized.
The class gift of $120,802 was presented to Dutta by students Nicole Louden and Benjamin Peterson after it had been presented earlier that morning in Bailey Hall by Executive MBA graduating students Morgan A. Jones, Spencer Glenn and John Hui. Thanking all the Johnson candidates for the gift, Dutta said, "Your commitment, your dedication, your passion for Johnson and its excellence are what matters to us the most."