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Fly The Colors, Wade Tells Business Graduates

Posted by Sean Flynt on 2009-05-15

Samford's Brock School of Business conferred 76 undergraduate and graduate degrees in its 2009 Commencement today. Degrees included the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with University Honors Degree, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Degree, Master of Accountancy Degree and Master of Business Administration Degree.

Neal Wade `69, Director of the Alabama Development Office, presented the commencement address.

Wade returned to Alabama six years ago to lead Gov. Bob Riley's economic development team. Now 62 and much more knowledgeable about economic development than he was when he accepted the position, he said, "I am an example that learning never stops (or at least it shouldn't)."

Wade told the graduates that in the era of sailing ships some commanders would lower their "colors" or national flag in order to deceive their enemies. "Today, it's sometimes hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys and gray has become our favorite color. Gray is not the color we want to nail to the mast, but one that clearly distinguishes who we are and for whom we fight."

Wade went on to describe those colors as traits that help a person "contribute to addressing some of the community's problems, the state's opportunities and the nation's challenges." Among these were positive attitude toward self, tenacity, preparation, professionalism and focus on results rather than activities.

In the latter case, Wade emphasized that it's all too easy to be so focused on the mathematics of results--"in my business, how many projects are we working, how many projects have we won, how many jobs have been created so we can be the top state in the southeast or better yet in the country."

He said his attention was called back to the most important results at the opening ceremonies of a manufacturing facility his office had helped secure for a small rural community. After the ceremony a woman thanked him for bringing the business to the town because now she would be employed there and be able to send her daughter to college. "It hit me stronger than anything that it isn't about the numbers, it isn't about the awards," Wade said. "It's about the people, the lives that are affected every time we bring new jobs to the state or help an existing company expand. It's about the people's lives that are affected by what we do."

Other speakers at the event included: Andrew Westmoreland, President, Samford University; J. Bradley Creed, Provost and Executive Vice President, Samford University; Beck A. Taylor, Dean, Brock School of Business; Anne Phipps Morel, Candidate for the baccalaureate degree, Brock School of Business; and Gregory J. Taylor, Senior Vice President, Business and Market Strategies, Agribank, and Chair, Brock School of Business Advisory Board. The ceremony also included a performance by Samford's A Capella Choir, directed by School of the Arts professor Timothy Paul Banks.

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