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MBAs with global experience, not forgetting the alligator, graduate at Johnson School

Newly named dean Joe Thomas and officers of the Class of 2008 all had a variety of subjects on their minds at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management's 61st commencement. They included alligators, banana wars and globetrotting.

The 445 graduates (including five Ph.D.s) and their family members at the May 24 ceremony in Newman Arena were serenaded by The Hangovers a cappella group with "Waiting on the World" and, at the end of the event, by the Sound Investments vocal group.

Thomas, a longtime Johnson School faculty member, was presiding over his first commencement as dean. In his address he praised the class's accomplishments, including undertaking "two [global business] projects in Brazil -- on one trip, a 6-foot Cayman alligator ended up in the boat, and one of the students has pictures to prove it."

Johnson School students have also tackled projects in Croatia, Singapore, Spain, Dubai, China, the Bahamas and Russia.

"Leave with one expectation," Thomas urged. "Do great things. Your life is your legacy and is ours. Change your part of the world and influence your friends, your families and communities in positive ways. ... Don't settle for good. Do great things."

Thomas presented Elizabeth (Beta) Mannix, professor of management, with the school's Faculty Research Award. Mannix's research includes diversity in organizational teams, power and alliance, and negotiation and conflict. She also is director of Cornell's Institute for the Social Sciences.

Three faculty members also received awards for excellence in teaching from the Class of 2008: Young-Hoon Park, assistant professor of marketing, the Class of 1992 Apple Award; visiting lecturer Tom Fields, the Executive MBA Globe Award; and professor of economics Marc Busch, the Cornell-Queen's Executive MBA Star Award, for faculty in the joint program with Queen's University School of Business in Kingston, Ontario.

Busch combined "the wisdom of a scholar and the humor of a comedian" in his global economy classes, class officer Todd J. Mazurek said, being especially eloquent in discussing the "banana wars" and U.S. commercial interests in Latin American countries. To accompany the teaching award, Mazurek held up a pair of bananas and asked his Cornell-Queen's MBA classmates to sign them for Busch as a memento.

The Johnson School also reported that the 252 two-year program MBA graduates in the Class of 2008 included 63 women and 102 international students.

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