Keynote speaker tells graduates to be accountable.
The University of Connecticut conferred degrees on more than 800 graduates at what was only the sixth mid-year commencement exercises in the university’s history.
About half of the graduates earned their degrees from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
More than 6,000 friends and family members attended the ceremony at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion on Sunday, Dec. 14, 2008.
The keynote speaker was Denis M. McCarthy, retired chairman, CEO and president of Fidelity Management Trust Co., who shared some keys to success that have helped him in his own life.
First among these is an old, but nevertheless effective adage and that is to “think positive.”
McCarthy put it this way, “Certainly you have to be realistic, whatever the subject or circumstance. Having a positive attitude helps you build self confidence. Having a “can do” attitude will help you be enthusiastic and passionate about what you do professionally. Those are two excellent leadership skills, and people love to be around a leader.”
Another piece of advice – don’t blame your troubles on other people or circumstances. In other words, be accountable.
“So many times in high school or college or in professional life, we all tend to blame someone else for a mediocre grade in a course, or underachievement in a sport or, worse yet, a major professional failure… I’m saying there is a direct connection between holding yourself personally accountable and having a positive attitude.”
In his own life, this combination helped him not just to succeed but to feel good about those successes, McCarthy said and shared an example.
“When I graduated from UConn in the mid-60s, I wanted to work for a major New York City bank. All my sources were telling me that only Ivy League grads make it in the big banks in New York. Well, once I was working there awhile – and yes, I was up against guys from Yale and Penn’s Wharton School, and the Tuck Business School at Dartmouth – I realized that even some of these guys would play the blame-game when they didn’t get the recognition they thought was due them, instead of looking in the mirror and asking themselves how they could have influenced the outcome differently.”
“I soon realized that my factual knowledge of corporate finance and monetary economics from UConn was just as strong as theirs, but with a high work ethic and a ‘can do’ attitude, I did succeed.”
“No, I did not get all the promotions I thought I could have, but the ones I did get were far more satisfying to me, I think, then those other individuals who are probably still sitting around complaining about some old boss who was not fair to them.”
One last bit of advice McCarthy passed on was even more practical – take care of your health.
“Without a solid health foundation, it is very hard to perform to your fullest,” McCarthy said. “I have been fortunate in my life with only a few minor health issues or lapses, but I have seen a number of individuals in the course of my life and career, put their jobs and their lives at risk because they ignored solid health advice. “
McCarthy earned a Bachelor’s degree in finance at UConn in 1964, and a Master’s degree in economics in 1965. He is co-chair of UConn’s capital campaign and a member of the UConn Foundation Board of Directors; he chaired the board from 2000 to 2004.. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at Sunday’s ceremony.
McCarthy and his wife, Linda are members of the 1881 Circle of the Founders Society that honors donors whose cumulative gifts and pledges total between $1,000,000 and $4,999,999.
Posted Dec. 14, 2008
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