On Friday, October 24, 2014, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management held the business school’s 28th graduation ceremony in Frankfurt’s Paulskirche. In total, 216 graduates – including 32 Bachelor students, 182 Master students and two doctoral candidates – were awarded their degree certificates.
“In this most exalted centre of German democracy, I am delighted to be able to say a dignified, solemn and celebratory farewell to our Class graduating this year,” said Professor Dr Udo Steffens, President of Frankfurt School, in his welcoming address. He congratulated the graduates on earning their degrees and called upon them to tackle the commercial and social challenges awaiting them in the future in full awareness of their responsibilities, for they “represent the life-blood of a prosperous society.”
This year’s keynote speaker was Boris Rhein, Hesse’s Minister of Higher Education, Research and the Arts. In his address, he emphasised the fact that the ceremony was effectively a celebration of two success stories. First, the individual success achieved by each and every graduate who, by working long, hard hours at often considerable personal sacrifice, had brought his or her studies to a successful conclusion. By demonstrating their willingness to strive for the highest standards of excellence, this year’s graduates would henceforth be able to look back over this period in their lives with justifiable pride. The second success story, which the Minister considered equally deserving of congratulations, was that of Frankfurt School itself. Minister Rhein stressed the business school’s pioneering role, calling it “a pillar of the State of Hesse, with a reputation that stretches far beyond our regional borders.” He added that “I know of no other business school that has evolved as steadily and systematically as Frankfurt School.” Frankfurt School’s outstanding reputation as a research-led business school was also reflected by the university’s German Science Council accreditation. The Minister mentioned the successful expansion of Frankfurt School’s research activities and ever more comprehensive curriculum, and went on to say that he too was looking forward to the new Adickesallee campus just as much as any member of the Frankfurt School community. The Minister concluded his speech by addressing the graduates directly, encouraging them to enjoy this very special day and offering his warmest congratulations both on his own behalf and on behalf of Hesse’s regional government.
City councillor Markus Frank, Head of the Frankfurt’s Municipal Department of Economics, Sports, Safety and the Fire Service, also congratulated the graduates on earning their degrees, praising their readiness to work hard and invest in their personal and professional futures. He added that Frankfurt School clearly showed how hard universities must compete in order to attract top talent, and went on to explain that there are countless opportunities awaiting well-educated people who are prepared to accept responsibility – not just in Frankfurt. Even so, he encouraged the new graduates to stay in the city, concluding his address with the words: “Please fly the flag for Frankfurt in your future endeavours – we’re counting on you!”
Following these addresses, Dr Jürgen Ziebe, Managing Director of Interessengemeinschaft Frankfurter Kreditinstitute GmbH (IFK) – an interest group of Frankfurt-based banks – presented three sponsorship awards to the Class’s top-scoring graduates. In his address, he highlighted the association’s many years of cooperation with Frankfurt School, an institution that is making a vital contribution to the positioning of the City of Frankfurt as a major financial centre. “You have the excellence we need,” he said, referring to the trust that Frankfurt School and its graduates have earned from IFK.
Professor Dr Udo Steffens and Professor Dr Michael H. Grote, Vice President Academic Affairs and Professor of Corporate Finance, then presented the new Bachelor and Master graduates with their certificates. The two doctoral candidates were presented with their certificates by their supervisors, Professor Dr Michael H. Grote and Professor Dr Erich Barthel, who also briefly summarised the subject of each candidate’s doctoral thesis.
John Stephenson, COO at NORMA Group, a leader in engineered joining technology solutions, presented three Master in Management graduates with the Manufacturing Management Award sponsored by the company. During their studies, the three graduates had focused on the manufacturing industry in particular.
In his address, Mr Stephenson explained that his company’s growth and performance depended on being able to recruit excellent and committed employees. Driven by this need, the fruitful cooperation between NORMA Group and Frankfurt School will continue to flourish and expand.
Julia Steck, a Master of International Business graduate, and Daniel Blaseg, a Master of Finance graduate, together looked back over their time as Frankfurt School students, concluding that they had both come of age at the business school, but that Frankfurt School itself had also come of age by becoming an international business school. On behalf of all the new graduates, they thanked their parents, friends, FS staff and employers for their support, as well as the valuable knowledge and experience they had shared over the last few years. The two graduates finished by saying that not only had Frankfurt School equipped them with the knowledge they needed, it had also opened up a network of new contacts to them, because often “it’s not just what you know but who you know.”
To encourage the new graduates to continue to tap into Frankfurt School’s network after finishing their studies, Oliver Kopp, Chairman of Frankfurt School Alumni e.V., gave a brief introduction to the 1,500-member association of FS alumni. He invited the new graduates to maintain their links with Frankfurt School, helping to shape the institution while giving back something in return.
“I’m confident our business school has a great future,” were Professor Udo Steffens’ closing words, after he had thanked everybody involved in organising the event and invited guests to a champagne reception with buffet in the Paulskirche rotunda. He also gave thanks to Eeuwe Zijlstra for accompanying the ceremony with music played on the church organ.