“We are a very good business school, but that is not enough,” emphasized Dean Mark Fuller at Isenberg’s 2017 Senior Celebration on May 13. “I want your degree to be iconic [with “Isenberg” triggering instant name recognition]. “And I want us to be one of the top five public business schools in the nation,” he told an energized Mullins Center audience, including the school’s 1,200 graduating seniors and their 6,500 family members and friends. At the celebration, graduates individually received a commemorative medal and congratulations on stage from their department chairs, Dean Fuller, and the event’s master of ceremonies, Undergraduate Dean Linda Shea.
“We are at an inflection point,” Dean Fuller continued. “I want you as alumni to lead the way . . . to help us become iconic,” he told the graduates. Great business schools, he added, “have greatly engaged alumni. I need you to be engaged as we move forward.” The seeds for that commitment, noted Fuller, have been planted through the Class of 2017’s spectacular Senior Giving Campaign, which has achieved 69% participation—a school record. It is the signature of a class uniquely poised to excel as alumni leaders.
One undeniable alumni leader-in-the-making was Senior Class Speaker Zinani Harriott ’17. “A career and a job are two different things,” observed Zinani, an accounting student, who is joining EY in Manhattan after graduation. Isenberg, she remarked, helps you to explore “different alternatives and to find a career that will allow you to impact someone’s life. You have the power to help [others] become winners!” she insisted.
“It is so important to give back,” Zinani remarked, citing the off-the-charts performance of the Senior Giving Campaign. “Isenberg’s slogan, We Drive the Driven, couldn’t be more accurate,” she added. But the Isenberg experience “was more than creating future business leaders; it created a family!”
“You are the Driven, Isenberg graduates!” Undergraduate Dean Linda Shea told the Class of 2017 in the event’s closing remarks. Dean Shea recounted an imposing list of accomplishments by the class and its members including community service, national case competitions, philanthropy, and academic achievement. “You were driven to become the highest achieving graduating class in the history of Isenberg,” she emphasized. “[And] make no mistake, we are building that new addition [the $62 million Business Innovation Hub] for you too. We will be waiting for you to return as proud alumni!”
UMass Amherst Undergraduate Commencement
A day earlier, Isenberg’s Class of 2017 stood out as the largest group of graduating seniors among the schools and colleges at UMass Amherst’s 147th Undergraduate Commencement at McGuirk Stadium. In the event’s keynote address, U.S. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren made an impassioned plea for graduates to become actively involved in public policy concerns. Find an issue that you are passionate about and act on it—to maximum effect, through collective action, she advised. “Each generation must rebuild democracy to fit its own time and needs,” she told the gathering. “Your advocacy will reshape our country and it will reshape you. [At UMass] you’ve built the right foundation [to accomplish that].”
During the ceremony, two Isenberg students received campus-wide honors. Karen Li, an operations and information management major, was one of ten 21st Century Leaders. Elizabeth Imbrogna, a marketing and communication major, was one of three Jack Welch Scholars. Created by the GE Foundation, the full scholarship honors the students and former General Electric CEO and UMass alumnus John F. Welch ’57.
Graduate Students Celebrate
The day began with a two-hour university-wide ceremony in the Mullins Center honoring graduate degree recipients, their families, and their friends. For Isenberg, that included 383 candidates who earned the MBA, 78 who received Master’s degrees in accounting and sport management, and 18 who earned the PhD. Among the MBA recipients, 346 graduated from the school’s Online and Part-time programs. In recent years, the school’s Online MBA Program has achieved spectacular growth and international acclaim. In its current survey of online MBA programs, The Financial Times ranks Isenberg’s Online MBA #1 in the United States and #3 in the world.
The night before (May 11), 500 Isenberg graduate degree candidates and their families, friends, faculty, and staff attended a reception celebrating the completion of their graduate degrees. The reception doubled as a festive networking event for the graduates and their Isenberg mentors. Before the reception, the MBA candidates participated in an annual Oath Ceremony and the PhD candidates attended a special robing ceremony.
Graduating 18 PhDs—an Isenberg record—was another striking accomplishment. To that end, the school graduated doctoral candidates from each of its nine disciplinary tracks. It was a notable testament to Isenberg’s commitment to educating business educators.
UMass has videos of the complete Undergraduate and Graduate commencement ceremonies online.