College of Business

JMU College of Business Honor Class of 2016

by Karen Doss Bowman


SUMMARY: More than 900 new graduates of JMU's College of Business and its affiliate program, the Hart of School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management, celebrated their successes with family and friends on Friday, May 6.

More than 900 new graduates of JMU’s College of Business and its affiliate program, the Hart of School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management, celebrated their successes with family and friends on Friday, May 6. The ceremony was part of JMU’s 107th Commencement exercises. Additionally, over 70 graduate students earning MBA and Master of Accounting degrees and three doctoral students were honored on Thursday, May 5.

Presiding over the ceremony, CoB Dean Mary Gowan welcomed the graduates and their families and friends. “You, our graduates today, are an impressive group,” she said. “You are joining an equally impressive group of alumni who represent the leadership at many Fortune 500 companies, who are successful serial entrepreneurs, heads of professional sports associations, and who are leaders in their communities. Most of all, our alumni, as will you, remember to reach back and open doors for those who come after them at JMU.”  

The ceremony included speeches by Class of 2016 member Daniel Roppert, an international student from Velden, Germany, and marketing professor Bill Faranda, recipient of the Otto Brenner Outstanding Teaching Award for 2014-2015. Roppert, a magna cum laude honors graduate who is the first in his family to attend college, was a varsity soccer player at JMU and a member of Beta Gamma Sigma honor society.

“Like me, all of you have a unique story and a path that brought you here to JMU,” said Roppert, who received a BBA in management and computer information systems (CIS) and was honored as the outstanding graduate in both majors. “For each of us, James Madison offered a place to succeed. A place where we could follow our path and achieve our dreams. A place that provided both challenge and opportunity. A place that now feels like home.”  

“I believe JMU has prepared us well to succeed on our journey to a meaningful life, by educating us to be enlightened citizens,” added Roppert, who will begin his career as a cyber risk consultant with Deloitte. “As JMU grads, we have an innate competitive advantage.”

Faranda’s words of wisdom centered around an incident early in his career when he was asked to take a turn cleaning out the office coffee pot. Insulted at first, he quickly learned that everyone at the office, including managers, shared the responsibility. The lesson in humility has served him well throughout his career, he said.

“I firmly believe you graduate today with the skills needed to get off to a good start, to make immediate contributions to the organizations who are competing for your talents,” Faranda said. “But the impact you make is not confined to the employment of those skills. It is magnified and made more effective by something as simple as humility--the realization that you have much to learn from those who were there before you arrived.”

The keynote speaker was Jennifer Morgan, a 1993 graduate and president of SAP North America, a technology company that is a leader in cloud computing and digital innovation. Morgan, who serves on the CoB’s Board of Advisors, offered four tips for the new graduates:

  1. Let preparation define everything you do. Look at every decision from a wide angle with an eye to the future. “Never mind what else changes in the tech world, or in any other kind of business: Preparation never goes out of style,” she said.
  2. The people at the top don't necessarily know that much more than everyone else who works at an organization. “Don't worry about the secret playbook--just take the leap.”
  3. There is no secret master plan to making choices between professional ambitions and personal endeavors. Develop a good work-life balance and always remember what is important in life, she told the graduates.
  4. In any enterprise, the people who work there matter more than the financials and the metrics. Welcome the opportunity to learn from the wisdom and experience of others.

 “I remember feeling just a little sad on my graduation day, not quite appreciating how even wonderful experiences have to end before new ones can begin,” Morgan concluded. “May all that you found here be just a hint of the achievements, success, and great happiness still to come.”

Published: Friday, May 6, 2016

Last Updated: Thursday, January 4, 2018

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