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Elon MBA students receive degrees

Elon University leaders conferred degrees to MBA students in the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business on May 22, 2009, during a Commencement ceremony in Whitley Auditorium attended by faculty, staff, family and friends.

Forty-four degrees were presented to students by Provost Gerry Francis and by professor Bill Burpitt, chair of the MBA program. Elon University President Leo M. Lambert conferred the degrees.

The event featured addresses by James S. Hilboldt Jr., recently retired senior corporate counsel for Pfizer Inc. and a member of the business school’s board of advisors, and by Victor W. Moran, who was selected by his peers to speak for the class.

Hilboldt tackled three themes in his keynote address, from “dreaming big” to pursuing dreams responsibly, then leading with courage but knowing when to seek help. “From this side of corporate America,” he said, “I couldn’t be happier to see how Elon has embraced the concept of responsible leadership.”

Hilboldt, whose work in the legal arena spanned nearly three decades, also provided graduates with words of wisdom as they embark on the next phase of their careers.

“Looking out into the future and thinking about how to become indispensable to your company is the best advice I can give you,” he said. “You have the skills to succeed. You have the toughness. You have the ethics. You have the network.”

In 2008, Hilboldt and his wife, Wendy, made a $25,000 gift to Elon to establish the Hilboldt Family International Study Endowment, which funds need-based study abroad scholarships for students taking part in any of Elon’s international programs. One daughter, Emily, graduated from Elon in 2006, and another, Molly, receives her bachelor’s degree this weekend.

Moran thanked professors, classmates and family members in his remarks. He also asked rhetorically whether the MBA program creates good business leaders, or whether it accepts prospective students who already have the desire to be leaders of industry. His conclusion: It’s a little of both.

“There are a lot of good, smart, motivated, committed people graduating here tonight, some who are already responsible business leaders – and others who soon will be,” he said.

Lambert concluded the evening ceremony with a charge to the graduating class.

“Your character will define you,” Lambert told the newly minted MBA alumni. “As we have seen all too often lately, bright, accomplished people can create a world of chaos when they are no longer guided by their ethical or spiritual bearings.”

Eric Townsend,
6/17/2009 3:52 PM