Researching the University’s mission statement in preparation for his Commencement address, Edward Bastian realized that the foundation for his success as a business leader was poured 30 years ago at St. Bonaventure.
“The values that I learned here are what it took to save Delta Air Lines,” Bastian, SBU class of 1979 and the president and CFO of Delta, told St. Bonaventure’s 148th graduating class Sunday morning at the Reilly Center Arena.
Bastian was instrumental in developing the business plan that led Delta from bankruptcy three years ago to its status today, if a merger with Northwest is approved, as the world’s largest air carrier.
Bastian, who received an honorary doctorate, said the University’s core values of discovery, community and individual worth were the values that Delta executives embraced in the painful restructuring of the company.
“We made it a priority to make our people part of the solution,” Bastian said. “We brought 40,000 Delta employees to Atlanta, 400 people at a time, to apologize to them for past mistakes” and to let them know how much management valued their service.
“It was servant leadership, and they responded,” he said. “We had lost our way as a company, but found it just in time.”
Bastian stressed to the graduates that “service to others is the most rewarding thing you can do — for your world, and for our world.”
More than 700 St. Bonaventure students — 465 undergraduates and 272 graduate students — who have completed their undergraduate or graduate studies since August 2007 were recognized during Commencement Exercises, which also celebrated the University’s 150th anniversary. Graduates wore bronze medallions that most of them received April 1 at the Anniversary Convocation.
“You carry a mark around your neck today, the 150th Anniversary medallion,” said John McGinley Jr., chair of the University’s Board of Trustees. “Always remember the mark you’ve made here and carry it close to your heart.”
Student speaker Stephanie Nikolaou of Rochester encouraged her classmates “to be fearless.”
“Let’s not let our anxiety for tomorrow obstruct our view of today,” Nikolaou said. “We have the opportunity to live out our dreams and achieve as much as we can stand to achieve. We’re not always going to succeed at everything, but let’s pretend we can.”
|Lisa Biedenbach (left) accepted the honorary Doctor of Letters degree on behalf of Monsignor William H. Shannon. Sr. Maureen Avril Chin Fatt, O.S.F., (center) received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree and Edward Bastian received an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree.
Also receiving honorary degrees were Monsignor William H. Shannon, professor emeritus at Nazareth College in Rochester, and Sr. Maureen Avril Chin Fatt, O.S.F., Congregational Minister of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany.
Lisa Biedenbach, SBU class of 1976, accepted the degree on behalf of Monsignor Shannon, who couldn’t attend due to health concerns. She is an editorial director at St. Anthony Messenger Press and a close friend of Monsignor Shannon’s.
Faculty members Patrick J. Casey, Ph.D., Donald J. Swanz, J.D., Oleg V. Bychkov, Ph.D., Patrick Panzarella, Ph.D, and Darryl J. Mayeaux, Ph.D., were also recognized for the faculty service awards they were honored with Saturday.
Stephanie Herzig of Elmira and Christopher Novak of Orangeburg were also recognized Sunday after being named the Ideal Bonaventure Students during the University’s Honors Luncheon on Saturday.