Dean Pulley's 2009 Diploma Ceremony Address

On May 17, 2009, family, friends, faculty and staff of the Mason School of Business gathered at William & Mary Hall to celebrate the successes of our graduates. 

An excerpt from Dean Lawrence Pulley’s remarks at the 2009 Diploma Ceremony:

"In two months we will move into our new home, Alan B. Miller Hall.  It will be your home as well and we want you to visit us often.  Miller Hall is designed to be the proper bookend to the Wren Building as the Western Gateway to the College.  It is fully in keeping with the stately Georgian architecture of the College’s historic campus.  Once inside, you will find a facility befitting the College’s aspirations as one of the great modern universities, and ours as a world-class business school.  Please join us this fall for our public dedication on October 2nd or at Homecoming on October 23rd and 24th.

"Well, you are graduating just in time to enter a fine economic mess.  I know that many of you have not yet found the starting point for your post-Mason-School adventure.  All of us, but most especially our graduate and undergraduate career services teams, are pulling out all the stops to help you—and we will continue to do everything we can.  Stay in touch.

"In light of the uncertainty that many of you may be facing, I have just a few words of advice. 

"Be confident.  Realize that you are among the most talented, capable, motivated, and well-trained job prospects in the world marketplace today.  Indeed, we are honored that you have entrusted the last few years of your educational and personal journeys to us, and we are eager to continue our partnership. 

"Embrace your abilities.  You are uniquely valuable, and the current economic turbulence will pass. 

"Be prepared.  Hidden within turbulence is opportunity for the agile and attentive.  Whether you have a job yet or not, you have the advantage in these times not only of your youth, abilities, and exuberance but also because you are unencumbered by outdated practices and by business tradition that stumbles at the threshold of change. 

"Be innovative.  There are too many graduates and not enough jobs so you must set yourself apart.  There are many ways to do this.  I remember vividly a comment made by the late Mark McCormack, W&M alumnus and founder of sports marketing giant IMG (and basically of the modern sports marketing industry itself).  During the last recession in 2001, one of our undergraduate majors asked Mark how he could differentiate himself in a tough market.  Mark advised the student to pick a company that he thought was a good fit and then offer to work there for free.  Most people laughed.  That comment has been wedged in my mind ever since: initially for its unorthodoxy; more recently for its wisdom.  In effect, Mark was challenging this student not to let his skill set go “soft” but instead to step out in confidence, take action, take risks, and find an innovative way to demonstrate his abilities and, in the process, prove his “worth.”  Following Mark’s advice will certainly set you apart from the pack and if, as you surely will, you live up to your W&M potential, firms and managers will soon find a place for you. 

"Godspeed.  Wherever life takes you remember that we share a common, proud heritage.  You are now a part of us and we are a part of you.  And, please, know that you will always be welcome here."