School Begins

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 12:22 PM PDT

Wow, it has been almost two months since I have posted something to the blog.  For whatever reason, I have not had anything to say, but that does not mean we have not been busy at the end of summer.  It simply means it has not been blogging material! :}

Classes begin tomorrow for the academic year.  Well, not really, since the EMBA students started classes in late August, but for most students, the academic year begins on September 19th! 

We had our new student orientation for undergraduate students this morning.  It was a high energy event in the Paccar Atrium, where freshmen and transfer students were milling around meeting faculty and staff and learning about opportunities such as study abroad and student clubs that can be joined.

The dean made a few welcoming remarks -- here are most of them:

At convocation yesterday, Nicole Gaddy, the ASSU president, gave you three pieces of advice.  I have my own four that I am going to give you - just a little overlap with Nicole.

First, don't procrastinate in getting your work done.  The quarter system is only ten weeks and goes by quickly.  Your friends in the semester system have more time to play catch up.  You don't.  You need to get things done - soon.

Second, communicate - with staff and faculty about any issues you are having.  If you are missing class for a week because you are sick or there is a family emergency, let people know that.  Don't let them jump to the conclusion that you are blowing off their class.

Third, participate - get involved. There are lots of clubs, lots of organized activities, lots of community service opportunities.  Take advantage of them, they will expand your educational experience, and equally important, you will be contributing to the experience of others.

Fourth, work hard!  We have a rigorous academic program.  This should not be easy, and over two or three or four years the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it.  We need to do something about this weather - it threatens to interfere with your hard work!

What were the four? [editor's note: the crowd was able to repeat them, to my relief.]

Real quickly, I want to talk very briefly about being a business student at this Jesuit business school. Don't let anyone fool you into thinking that "business" is bad and couldn't possibly be used as a channel to serve the community and society.  It is a mechanism for doing good, but it is a human institution, and therefore can be a mechanism for not doing good.  But that can be said about any institution, including government or religion.… 

When you reflect on yesterday's topic at the convocation, the future of our planet, it becomes very easy to see that no real solution to the problem of global warming is going to happen without business providing much of the solution.  There is already a great deal that business is doing to contribute, which you will be learning about in your classes, but there is no denying the record is spotty and not all business is pursuing a positive track.  That means there will be plenty of opportunity for you to contribute after you graduate!

I want to take advantage of the opportunity to visit the recent "We Built it" campaign.  Now, who knows what I am referring to here?

[Editor's note: one student in the audience gave an excellent summary of the issue.  Congratulations, young man!  You should do well here!]

I do not want to get involved with the Presidential campaign and who is the best candidate.  But I do want to take advantage of this opportunity to remind everyone that, despite all the negativity about the US economy, we really are blessed to be able to participate in one of the most successful economies in human history.  We have achieved a very high standard of living (albeit there are growing problems with the distribution of wealth and income, but I don't have time for that today).  We have one of the most supportive environments for business to operate in here in the US.

The point the President was attempting to make (and maybe not with his usual eloquence) was that successful businesses in the US benefit from the supportive eco-system that exists here.  There are certain things that we take for granted that the rest of the world cannot - property rights that are respected, a legal system that works, infrastructure, education, relatively low taxes, etc…  This system supports the success of individual entrepreneurs and if they had tried to do what they do somewhere else, it probably would not have worked.  It is hard to imagine how that can be a controversial point!

That leads to a second consideration, which is if you benefitted from what the community has provided, you have a responsibility to give back to that community and to help that system to continue to thrive.  This is not unlike the adage, "from those who much has been given, much is expected."  Of course, you know that service to society and the community is something that this university emphasizes a great deal, and this is one reason for that.

A related point that the President wanted to make (and it may have clouded the message in trying to make it) was that somewhere along the way, all of us who have experienced some measure of success, including successful entrepreneurs, caught a break.   Maybe it was having an inspiring teacher at exactly the right time.  Or not trying to start a business just as a recession was commencing.  Maybe it was just being in the right place at the right time.  Maybe it was getting an unexpected check from grandma.  What ever it was, it was some kind of break that not everyone gets.  In other words, have some humility.  Realize that sometimes we are lucky.  I don't know anyone who has been successful who can go back and say they never, ever caught a break.  All of us have something to be grateful for, including a college education!

These themes of contributing to your community through community service, or staying humble, are going to be part of your education here at SU and Albers.  Please pay attention to these important lessons and many, many others.

I need to wrap this up.  There is only so much of my talking at you that you can tolerate.  Welcome to SU and Albers, and I wish you every success in your studies, but realize that is not going to happen without some serious effort on your part.

Have a great quarter!