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Commencement Address 2014

Read Dean William W. Keep’s remarks to the Class of 2014


Good Morning and thank you for joining us. I am Bill Keep, Dean of the School of Business. It is my pleasure to welcome you today to celebrate the success of these fine young men and women.

Before we do that, however, I will ask all of the graduates to stand.

You have worked hard to get here and I know you appreciate that many people contributed to your success. Please join me in thanking your family, friends, and the faculty and staff of the School of Business for supporting you.

Please be seated.

The business world is filled with uncertainty, which can be both exciting and scary. As a result, faculty often teach that a common answer to any business question is “It depends.” “It depends” will make you seem wise that many variables need to be considered and, most important, will buy you time until you can figure out what’s going on. It depends also can serve as a handy qualifier for whatever answer you develop. For example, if you say “By employing a tightly coordinated communication strategy focused on pre-identified target markets, the margin created by new revenue will far exceed the costs of the campaign.” Follow with: “Though the result depends on the reliability of our current data.” If you say: “Taking a short position against this multilevel marketing company will provide a return well above our current target.” Be sure to add: “Though any realizable return depends on the action of federal regulators.” It depends fits so many situations that your faculty likely took points off on any paper where you used the words “never” or “always.” We teach that the world is far too uncertain and subject to change to use “never” or “always.”

I am here today to tell you otherwise. I am here to share with you some very important uses of “Never” and “Always.” Let’s start with “Never”:

Never substitute someone else’s work for your own. If they are smarter than you, other people will notice. If they are NOT as smart as you, what if others don’t notice?

Never think a free lunch is free, especially if the invitation comes from an unexpected source. Everyone has either a problem to solve or an agenda to advance. The lunch could cost more than you think.

Never waste time networking just for the sake of shaking hands and getting business cards. Network to meet people who work hard and think like you. Or, to get a date.

Never drive if you can walk or take public transportation—and still be on time. You cannot go wrong by saving money while also being kind to the environment.

Never pad your expense account. The benefits are small and the costs of lost trust large.

Never stop getting better at what you do. From plumbers to performers, people get both personal satisfaction and job security with continuous improvement.

Never be brutally honest with your boss, unless you are tenured and over 60. Honest feedback should start with “It depends.”

Never underestimate the power and influence of support staff. They make far better friends than enemies and probably work harder for their money than you do.


Always overdress rather than underdress. People will notice the difference.

Always know that employers will expect more from you than outlined in an interview or job description. Also know that you are building a record of accomplishments to further your career with this employer or the next.

Always spend more time with the people you trust than with anyone else. They will be at the heart of your network for the rest of your career.

Always give people a second chance, but not a third.

Always spend less money than you make, give a bit to charity, and save the rest. You would be surprised how many people have yet to realize that making money is a lot harder than spending money.

Always schedule downtime. Regularly take time to recharge and enjoy family and friends. The work will be there when you get back.

Always be the kind of person others like to be with. Be the funny person, the quiet person, the talkative person, the thoughtful person, the knowledgeable person— but not the chronically unhappy, cranky, or selfish person.

Always keep close the people who contribute to your organization, support its values, and make your life more pleasant.

Today, in addition to graduation, we are saying goodbye to just such a person. Dr. Lew Hofmann graduated from Trenton State College, enlisted in the military, served two tours of duty in Vietnam, mustered out, and went to graduate school. He joined the business school as a faculty member in 1978. For 36 years, he has helped young people understand a bit more about themselves and the world around them. Thank you, Lew.

As has been our tradition since my first graduation as Dean, today we have a student speaker. From a group of well-qualified students, nominated by faculty and interviewed by the Dean’s staff, Joshua Carty was selected to represent the graduating class. Josh, an accounting major with a 3.98 GPA, recently served as President of The Institute of Management Accountants Student Chapter. In addition, using skills learned at TCNJ, he volunteered with Teach for America, and taught financial literacy in Belize and English in the Dominican Republic. He has worked on campus as an American Sign Language tutor, and this fall he will join the Banking and Capital Markets division of PricewaterhouseCoopers in Manhattan.