Commencing to Leave a Legacy

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Spring Commencement is one of the most memorable events a dean can experience. On April 27, the Class of 2012 will join our expansive and diverse family of alumni, currently living and working in more than 80 countries worldwide. I feel tremendous optimism about the future as I watch these vibrant, intelligent, and creative people prepare for the next phase of life's journey.

In March, Forbes magazine’s Margaret Brennan wrote a profile on the person who is perhaps our most "famous" alumnus, Stephen M. Ross, BBA '62. Steve's $100 million gift in 2004 transformed our learning community in both form and function. Our physical space is not only beautiful, it also inspires collaboration, teamwork, and collegiality.

As president of New York-based real estate development firm The Related Companies, Steve continues to set an example for our students and alumni with his vision and passion. His latest development, New York City's Hudson Yards Project, is estimated to take 10 years and $12 billion to complete. Forbes reports that if Steve can "pull this off," it will be the most significant private development project in Manhattan since John D. Rockefeller created Rockefeller Center in the 1930s.

The fact that Steve continues to innovate his business and career at such high stakes in such a challenging market is a true testament to his knowledge and skill. The fact that he does it with such joy is inspiring. As he tells the writer in the article’s conclusion, "Look, it’s a lot of fun. Because it’s not all about the money, really. It’s about transforming something and what you leave behind. This is a legacy."

As dean of the school that bears Steve's name, I take his words to heart. And as I prepare to congratulate the Class of 2012 on one of the most profound achievements of their lives, I hope they will do the same.

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