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All Praise the Valedictorians

Wills Begor ‘12, Glynnis Kearney ‘12, David Rogg ‘12 and Jie Zhong ‘12 are the College’s valedictorians this year, having achieved perfect 4.0 GPAs at Dartmouth. Below is a list of their employers next year:

Wills Begor ‘12: Morgan Stanley
Glynnis Kearney ‘12: McKinsey & Co.
David Rogg ‘12: Goldman Sachs
Jie Zhong ‘12: Goldman Sachs

We wish them, the entire class of 2012, and especially the thoughtful graduating members of Dartblog’s Baker Tower Irregulars, the best of luck for the future.

Addendum: Wills Begor enlivened Commencement by reviewing the salient world events that occurred during his time in Hanover; he ended with a dig directed at soon-to-be-ex-President Kim — to the Class of 2012’s loud approval:

While here in Hanover, US Airways Flight 1549 landed on the Hudson River, US unemployment reached almost 10 percent, President Obama signed a $787 billion stimulus package, Dr. Jim Yong Kim became the 17th president of Dartmouth College, Jim Yong Kim became the president of the World Bank, and word on the street is he’s already looking for the next big job.

Interestingly, that mention was the only time that President Kim was referred to by name in the four valedictory speeches. Each speaker began with the bland salutation “Mr. President.” Who says that valedictorians aren’t smart? [Erratum: Oops. It seems that for several years the convention has been to start a valedictory address with the words “Mr. President.” We regret the error and thank the alert ‘12 who pointed it out to us.]

Addendum: In his own speech, Kim treated the crowd to a dose of his usual glib, self-congratulatory spin:

One Board member told me, “If you’re a good leader and you’re taking your institution forward, at least 20 percent of the people will be unhappy with you. If everyone’s happy, you’re not doing your job.” Well, according to this logic and the polls in The D, I think I’ve hit that target and maybe overshot it just a bit.

The lesson here is profound. Courage to tackle the most difficult problems and venture into uncharted territory is critical for any institution, and it’s also critical for you. In so many institutions, fear and mediocrity track along the same well-worn paths. Avoid those paths at all cost.

Another Board member told me that on his worst days, he’d go to bed at night cursing himself, wondering if he could do anything right, and invariably, the next morning he would wake up, look in the mirror, and say to himself, “Good morning, handsome.”

If you are courageous as a leader, you will make mistakes and you will face the wrath of unhappy constituents.

President Kim is probably correct that all courageous leaders have their critics. However he errs in believing that because a leader has critics, he or she is therefore courageous.

At the end of Kim’s speech, at least half of the faculty members present at Commencement stayed in their seats rather than rising to applaud him.


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