The Class of 2022 from Pitt’s College of Business Administration reflected on the past four years, from their first Bigelow Bash to the pandemic’s challenges, and were encouraged to do the right thing, not the easy thing, during the commencement ceremony at PPG Arena on April 30, 2022.
Nearly 500 graduates participated in the in-person Pitt Business Undergraduate Programs ceremony, which also included a surprise video with messages of thanks and appreciation to Arjang A. Assad, Henry E. Haller Jr. Dean of the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business. He is stepping down as dean after seven years, effective June 30, 2022, to return to the faculty. To watch the entire ceremony, click here. The tribute video can be watched here.
The commencement speaker was William Demchak, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., one of the nation’s largest diversified financial services companies. Since 2018, PNC has hired more than 160 Pitt Business undergraduate students, which is roughly double that of any other company in the country and “we are a much better company for it,” he said. “For that and for everything that Pitt does to support the region, PNC is proud to call you partners.”
Get Your Hands Dirty with Doing
Demchak, who quipped he was voted in graduate school “least likely to get a job,” encouraged the graduates to ask questions to develop informed views and decisions.
“For your generation to succeed, for society to succeed, we need to learn how to ask questions again. We need thinkers and doers, not noise. We have problems. Let’s go out there and fix them,” he said. “You’re going to be the person who is going to make a difference. The person who does the right thing – not the easy thing. You will get your hands dirty with doing and make the world a better place for your efforts. Don’t ever lose that invincibility, that wonder, that energy, that enthusiasm, that drive. Carry it with you every day. Use it. Pass it along.”
Lawrence Feick, interim associate dean for the Pitt Business undergraduate program, congratulated graduates for persevering through the pandemic’s challenges, with many learning online for the first time. He added the ceremony marks the transition to the next stop in life and a career.
“Whatever your ‘next’ is, we hope you greet it with the same passion and perseverance that you developed here at Pitt and especially at Pitt Business,” he said. “I know I speak for all of our faculty and staff in wishing you much success as you approach this next level with drive, energy, and Pitt Pride. We’re proud of all that you’ve accomplished during your time at Pitt Business and look forward to receiving updates from you.”
The Hail to Pitt Journey
Student speaker James Boston recalled in his speech how “Hail to Pitt” is the unifier of the Pitt community, regardless of one’s path. He reflected on their shared memories – T-Pain at the Bigelow Bash as first-year students. Jay Z and Aaron Donald in the Oakland Zoo. All-nighters somewhere in Mervis Hall or Sennott Square.
Sophomore year took “an unexpected turn, as the pandemic had a different plan in store for us,” he said, including online classes from home which “seemed sweet, until the burnout settled in,” and saying goodbye to the beloved Original Hot Dog Shop.
Junior year was a return to in-person classes and events. Senior year was “our best year yet,” he said, as Pitt won its first ACC football championship, submissions of job and graduate school applications, and Hemingway’s reopened.
“We will forever be bonded through our Hail to Pitt journey,” said Boston, who graduated with a double major in Finance and Accounting, a minor in Economics, and Business Analytics certificate. “No matter where life takes you, you will always have your Pitt family. It’s not four years, it’s for life. Hail to Pitt!”
Boston, who will begin his career at Ernst and Young in Pittsburgh as a financial services consultant, was also recognized with the Alumni Leadership Award. He was among the student, faculty, and staff award winners honored at the ceremony and listed in the program.
Kayla Haddad (BSBA ’21) announced Boston’s award and talked about how the alumni played a role in her being in the sales development program at the largest food and beverage company in the world.
“Our alumni are there to provide advice, assist with career connections, have those tough conversations about the future and even just give you a taste of home when you are missing it the most,” she said.
Thank You, Dean Assad
During the recognition of the dean, Assad was praised by Feick for leading Pitt Business to develop new programs, exceed admissions goals, achieve sky-high rankings, and attract the best and brightest students from around the world.
“But above all else, Dean Assad will be remembered for the emphasis he’s always placed on teaching and learning,” Feick added.
Assad thanked everyone for the tribute video and said he has never been prouder of the alumni, students, faculty, and staff whose “many talents advance our school, our academic mission, and our purpose to serve the greater good. I’ve the privilege to work with some of the brightest minds in the field. Working together, we were gratified to see Pitt Business reach new heights.”