On Saturday, September 26, 2015, graduation ceremonies were held for four programs at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management. Graduates were awarded the Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, Master of Business Administration (Full-Time) and doctoral degrees during graduation ceremonies held in the Rhein-Mosel-Halle in Koblenz. In the company of families and friends, the future alumni had an opportunity to look back on time spent in studies, and to celebrate this special occasion.
The focus of the morning's events was on the graduation ceremony for recipients of the Bachelor of Science in the class of 2015. After a musical prelude by Fabian Ernst, Noah Leonavicius and Nicola Missing, Markus Rudolf, Dean of WHU, welcomed the numerous guests and congratulated the graduates. The Dean emphasized that two keys to a successful career and a fulfilled life were tenacity and patience. In his opening remarks, Rudolf traced the life story of Romanian-German chemistry Nobel Prize winner Stefan Hell, who, after years of unemployment and constant rejection in the scientific world, ultimately succeeded with a breakthrough invention in the field of microscopy. Rudolf reminded the graduates of their privileged educational situation and encouraged them to look beyond their academic niche to glimpse the bigger picture. "If you have a good idea, be persevering enough to see it through to execution," he said, adding: "If someone should approach you who is convinced he or she has a good idea, be open-minded enough to at least give it some thought. Even if all others may reject an idea, it may be still a Nobel Prize-worthy idea." A prevalent characteristic at WHU – the entrepreneurial spirit – is based on the two principles of tenacity and curiosity toward new ideas, Rudolf observed.
This year's keynote commencement speaker was Professor h.c. Manfred Maus, former CEO and Supervisory Board Chairman of OBI. In his remarks, Professor Maus called upon the WHU graduates to assume responsibility, both at work and in society. With vivid anecdotes, he traced the history of his successful founding of the OBI chain of hardware stores. He did not shy away from discussing some of the hurdles and challenges he faced along the way. Mouse reported about his decision to reject unfair business practices and bribes as a matter of principle, and of his resulting renunciation of expansion of his company in China. With a confident voice, he pointed out how important it was to always remain faithful to one's own principles, both in private life and in business. "Sometimes luck helps, but work always helps," Maus stressed. He encouraged graduates to pursue their own success with honesty and sincerity.
After the presentation of degrees by Professor Markus Rudolf and Professor Ralf Fendel, Academic Director of the Bachelor Program, Professor Karl Friedrich Meyer, President of the Constitutional Court and of the Higher Administrative Court of the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate (ret.), was bestowed with the WHU Medal of Honor. The award was presented in recognition of his longstanding service as Chairman of the Commission to Ensure Good Scientific Practice at WHU.
Concluding remarks by Dr. Marco Vietor, Board Member of In Praxi, rounded off the morning festivities. In the afternoon, graduates of the Master of Science, Master of Business Administration (Full-Time) and doctoral programs received their degrees from Professor Markus Rudolf, Dean of WHU; Professor Jürgen Weigand, Academic Director of WHU's MBA programs; and Professor Christian Andres, Academic Director of the doctoral program.
The graduation ceremonies were accompanied by musical contributions by Johanna Schmitz-Peiffer and Niklas Leuchtenmüller as well as Fabian Ernst and Noah Leonavicius. Another highlight of the celebrations were the considerable concluding speeches by class representatives Maximilian Charlet (BSc), Nataliya Fischoeder and Nicola Römer (Full-Time MBA), Jochen Ziervogel (MSc) and Dr. Rita Difrancesco (doctoral program). Their remarks made it tangible that a course of study at WHU involves not just academic excellence and a milestone in a student's career, but also the development of one's own personality and interpersonal relationships, and a sense of cohesion that extends far beyond graduation.
The keynote speaker for the graduates in the afternoon was Gisbert Rühl, CEO of Klöckner & Co SE. In his speech, Rühl examined the classic concepts of success and career from his own very personal point of view. Using his own career as an example, he pointed out that successful professional careers are not always predetermined, and that paths through life can often take unforeseen turns. Rühl stressed the value of hard work and the meaningfulness of apparent failure. He was convinced that the WHU graduates had already taken important steps for their further lives with their studies at WHU.
This year's Best Teacher Award for the best course in the Bachelor of Science program was once again presented to Professor Lutz Kaufmann. The afternoon's award for the Best Teacher in the Master of Science programs was presented to Assistant Professor Tim Oliver Brexendorf.
In Praxi, the WHU alumni association presented the "In Praxi Outstanding Thesis Award" for the sixth time. In Praxi association Chairman Jörg Borkowsky presented the certificate for the best thesis to Nico Falk (MSc 2015), who had convinced the judges with his Master's thesis: "Network neutrality on the Internet: Implications for competition, innovation and social welfare." Borkowsky then concluded the afternoon event with remarks addressed to the graduates and their guests.
The graduation culminated with the traditional WHU Ball, which was held this year at the Kameha Grand Hotel in Bonn.
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