May 18, 2012

Graduating the Future Leaders of a Global Free-Enterprise Society

Over the course of the past two weeks, we held Commencement ceremonies on all three residential campuses of Northwood University. Commencement is what we plan for at Northwood University. In fact, our Mission Statement - "to develop the future leaders of a global free-enterprise society" - suggests exactly that. What we teach our graduates in the time they spend on our campuses or in any of our programs is meant to prepare them for their future and to be the leaders of our new global society.

The speakers we select to deliver the Commencement addresses on our residential campuses are chosen because they are champions for and represent our ideals and values. Some come from the business world and are leaders in their own very successful businesses; others are leaders of philanthropic foundations and organizations; and some are leaders in other capacities such as the military. Our speakers this year were exceptional in many ways, though they all truly believe in our focus on entrepreneurism, leadership and helping others become successful.

On Sunday May 6, the speaker on our Florida campus was Congressman Alan West. Congressman West was recently elected to serve the people of Florida in the 22nd District and is very much an advocate of free-enterprise. He also has a military background and is quoted as saying, "With a good education, any child in America can live his dream." His message to our graduates and their families and friends encouraged them to be leaders in all their endeavors, and was very well-received.

Thursday May 10 was Commencement day on our Texas campus. Samuel B. Brown, a retired military Captain who was severely injured while serving our country, gave our students the message that we should all strive to be "servant leaders." Dr. Brown spoke about the value we should place not only on the freedoms we enjoy as American citizens, but also on the many responsibilities we have as citizens of the world to ensure those freedoms are made available to all people. Dr. Brown and his family are examples of true courage in extreme circumstances and we are fortunate he is involved with our University.

Our Michigan campus held two Commencement ceremonies on Saturday May 12 and both Commencement speakers, while delivering very different messages, are models we encourage our students to emulate. Dr. Frank Beckmann, radio talk-show host and advocate of the free-enterprise system, spoke to our traditional students during the morning ceremony. Dr. Beckmann asked our students to remember where they came from and what they hope to accomplish in the future. His message to apply yourself and do what makes you happy, not just what you believe will make you successful, was one that resonated with not only our students but with their families who were in attendance. He encouraged us all to have a dream and to follow through with that dream, even in the face of adversity.

O. Temple Sloan III spoke to our Adult Degree Program and MBA students during our afternoon ceremony. Dr. Sloan is a very successful business person who is the CEO of General Parts International/CARQUEST, and has been not only a supporter of our University through his many monetary contributions but his company employs many of our graduates. His philosophy is based on three very important words - character, capacity and credit - he believes are the principles upon which everything in life rests. These three values are necessary for success not only in business but in all we do in our lives. Our students are taught these values in their classes at Northwood so Dr. Sloan's message helped reinforce what we strive to have our graduates take into the world with them.

Our goal at Northwood is to graduate people who will lead the business world in a way that will not only make it better but will also encourage the global community to work together for the common good. We feel confident we have done that with the class of 2012, all those who have come before them, and all those who will follow them. Thanks to all our faculty, staff and friends around the world, we are truly helping to "develop the future leaders of a gobal free-enterprise society."

Enjoy your weekend!


Keith A. Pretty, J.D.
President and CEO
Northwood University
4000 Whiting Drive
Midland, MI 48640