Graduates at Bentley University's Commencement Ceremonies Urged to Compete Like Olympians and Build Authentic Relationships

May 16, 2015, 17:34 ET from Bentley University

WALTHAM, Mass., May 16, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Keynote speaker Scott A. Blackmun, chief executive officer of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), compared graduates at Bentley's 96th undergraduate commencement to a U.S. Olympic Team entering the Olympic Stadium to compete with the best in the world. "No matter how long you live, no matter how far you travel, no matter how much you achieve, this day will always remain a milestone in your life." Approximately 7,000 people attended the ceremony on May 16, 2015. 

He urged graduates to be prepared for their expectations to be challenged, referencing his experiences at Dartmouth College battling for the first seat as starting goalkeeper for the men's soccer team (and not always winning) and being passed over for a post as CEO of USOC. "I was disappointed, but I did get back up."

Skills learned at Bentley, he said, fall under the same doctrine that guides top athletes. "The values this institution sought to cultivate in each of you — diversity, integrity, excellence, courage and teamwork — are values we seek to instill in every single Olympian and Paralympian who represents our country. They're a key part of the formula for success in life ... that will help you to make your choices — to choose right in life — and help you get back up when you've been knocked down."

The best athletes and the best leaders, he added, understand a philosophy coined by UCLA coach John Wooden: "Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful."

He also encouraged graduates to hold character higher than reputation, and to measure success by the self-knowledge that you did your best.

Emphasizing the support of family, friends and coaches, he concluded: "As you leave Bentley today — with your eyes fixed firmly on the future — don't forget to look back every now and then and thank all of those who loved you, believed in you and helped you to get here ... Be humble. Be grateful. Be careful."

Blackmun received an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree at the ceremony.

Laura Sen, president and chief executive officer of BJ's Wholesale Club Inc., delivered the keynote address at the Graduate School of Business 40th annual commencement ceremony.

She encouraged graduates to continually think about what makes them happy. "My most meaningful accomplishments ... aren't on my resume, and my guess is that 30 years from now, yours won't be either," she said, reflecting on a career path that took her from executive trainee at Jordan Marsh in 1978 to CEO of BJ's Wholesale Club in 2009.

Sen recognized the digital age as an opportunity to use technology to not only drive business success, but to make valuable connections with others. " ... think about people, think about those connections, and think about the resume of your life. Connecting with people authentically will be the foundation of your greatest accomplishments."

The challenge, she added, will be choosing how, when and with whom to connect. "Figuring out how to manage your time and what is important are the hard decisions; and you need to make them conscious decisions, or your life, and your time and your resume will get away from you."

She concluded with principles that have guided her through her life:

  • Be your best self, and your inner goodness and talent will shine.
  • Be positive; find something good about everything.
  • Be honest; truth telling is the foundation of trust, and trust is the foundation of lasting, meaningful and rich relationships.
  • Be humble. Listen more than you talk and give freely of yourself.
  • Don't worry about things you cannot control. Spend your time and energy on finding solutions.  
  • Laugh a lot. Life is serious, but it's also very funny.  A lightness of being will make your journey much easier and it will act as a magnet for others to want to be with you.

"Revel in the world we enjoy, with technology at your fingertips to make connections for the moment and for a lifetime."

Sen received an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree.

At the undergraduate ceremony, 1,038 bachelor of science degrees, 20 bachelor of arts degrees, four associate degrees and four certificates were awarded to 1,066 students. (Figures include degrees and certificates conferred October 24, 2014, February 27, 2015, and May 16, 2015.)

At the Graduate School of Business ceremony, seven doctoral degrees, 427 master of science degrees, one master of science in business research, 203 master of business administration degrees, eight dual MS/MBA degrees, and 96 certificates were granted to 640 graduate students. (Students may earn multiple degrees and certificates so may be counted more than once. Figures include degrees and certificates conferred October 24, 2014, February 27, 2015, and May 16, 2015.)

The Gregory H. Adamian Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to William Schiano, professor of computer information systems, and Stephen O'Leary, adjunct lecturer in accountancy. The Bentley University Award for Excellence in Scholarship was presented to Marcia Cornett, Robert A. and Julia E. Dorn Professor of Finance. The Joseph M. Cronin Award for Excellence in Academic Advising and Mentoring was given to Gregory Hall, associate professor of psychology.

Student honorees included Kathryn A. Squillace, winner of the Professor Robert J. Weafer Award for Undergraduate Academic Excellence. The Professor E. William Dandes Award for Graduate Academic Excellence went to Yujun Liu.

Scott A. Blackmun is chief executive officer of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). A lawyer and accomplished sports and entertainment executive, he has been at the helm of the USOC since January 2010. Under his leadership Team USA topped the overall medal count at the 2010 Winter Games and 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. Blackmun is credited with modernizing USOC operations and enhancing the organization's overall image. He negotiated a revenue-sharing agreement with the International Olympic Committee which restructured worldwide Olympic sponsorship and elevated the USOC's international standing. For their efforts, the USOC was named Sports League of the Year at the Sports Business Awards last year, topping the NFL, the NBA and the MLA.  In 2013 Blackmun was recognized as Sports Executive of the Year by Sports Business Awards.

Under Blackmun's direction, the USOC nearly doubled net philanthropic support in 2009-2012 from the previous quad and launched the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Foundation, which in 2014 helped generate more than $7.5 million in direct support to Team USA athletes.

Blackmun had a previous tenure at the USOC, serving as acting chief executive officer, senior managing director of sports, and general counsel. Following his departure in 2001 Blackmun became the chief operating officer of Anschutz Entertainment Group, one of the world's most respected presenters of sports and entertainment events.

Blackmun is an ex-officio member of the USOC's board of directors, has served on the International Olympic Committee Marketing Commission and the Association of National Olympic Committee Judicial Commission. In January 2015 he became a member of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport.

Having spent more than 20 years practicing law in Colorado, Blackmun was a partner in two large international firms. His practice focused on sports and entertainment, with an emphasis on project finance for sports and entertainment venues. He started his career in 1982 with Holme Roberts & Owen, became a partner of the firm in 1998 and served on the firm's executive committee from 2007-2009.  He was a partner at Hogan & Hartson and managing partner of the firm's Colorado Springs office from 1994 until he joined the USOC in 1999.

Blackmun has been recognized in Around the Rings' Golden 25, a list of the most influential people in the Olympic Movement. He graduated summa cum laude in 1979 from Dartmouth College where he received a degree in philosophy and was a member of the varsity soccer team for four years. He received a law degree from Stanford Law School in 1982.

Laura Sen is president and chief executive officer of BJ's Wholesale Club Inc. She has more than 30 years of experience in the retail industry and made an impressive climb to lead one of the nation's top warehouse clubs. BJ's currently operates more than 205 Clubs in 15 states and employs more than 25,000 team members. She also serves on BJ's Board of Directors.

Sen began her career in retail shortly after her graduation from Boston College in 1978 when she joined storied Boston retailer Jordan Marsh as an executive trainee.  In 1979 she moved to Zayre Corporation, a discount chain based in Natick, Massachusetts.  Over the next 10 years she held positions of increasing responsibility at Zayre, including buyer and assistant vice president of merchandise.

She joined BJ's in 1989 and was promoted to vice president of logistics in 1991.  She moved on to more senior roles including executive vice president of merchandise in 1997.

In 2003 Sen left BJ's to work as an independent consultant but returned to the company in January 2007 to join the team seeking to turn the company around after several years of disappointing results. She was promoted to president and chief operating officer in January 2008 and in February 2009 became president and chief executive officer and joined the company's board.  Sen guided BJ's through a successful acquisition after which the company was taken private by Leonard Green Partners and CVC Capital Partners.

Sen is active in the retail industry and her community.  She serves on the Boards of The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Mass Mutual, The National Retail Federation, The Pine Street Inn (the largest homeless shelter in New England), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and The Boston Ballet. She is involved with ATASK (Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence); AACA (Asian American Civic Association); and the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership (MACP).



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SOURCE Bentley University