More than 600 students received degrees and certificates from Lawrence Technological University in the school’s 86th Commencement exercises, held Saturday afternoon at Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac. Nearly 5,000 people attended, and more than 5,000 more people watched the online stream of the event.
James B. Nicholson, a prominent civic and philanthropic leader and chairman of Detroit-based PVS Chemicals Inc., provided the commencement address. The university also awarded him an honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree.
Nicholson pointed to studies showing hundreds of millions of jobs around the globe facing elimination due to automation, but assured the graduates, “with your Lawrence Tech degrees, you will be in high demand, and it’s very likely that you will be robot-proof. Our nation needs you and lots of Lawrence Tech grads like you.”
Nearly 90 percent of LTU graduates already have job offers or spots in graduate school at Commencement, but Nicholson also added, “If anyone’s still looking, PVS Chemicals is definitely hiring. Visit our web site and tell ‘em Jim sent you.”
He also offered advice for success in both career and life.
“First, show up,” he said. “There’s nothing that can compete with your physical presence at an event. Second, show up early. When you’re early, you’re never late. Third, balance your time. Take time to be civil. A polite response to aggression will unnerve your enemies and grow your circle of friends. Fourth, give back and do good. If you had a scholarship to LTU, someone paid it forward for you. I know a lot of you are graduating with debt. Pay that off first, but then think about paying back. Satisfaction grows from doing good.”
Nicholson also said PVS Chemicals – founded by his father in 1945 – had similar principles for success. They included an absolute commitment to safety, empowerment of employees, a family approach to business, mutually beneficial relationships with suppliers, lifelong learning, a commitment to both hard work and having fun, and a commitment to doing what’s right from an ethical standpoint. He said the company makes not only products, but communities – by supporting institutions and nonprofits where it does business.
Nicholson also urged the graduates to explore what a revitalized Detroit had to offer, both in their careers and in cultural and entertainment experiences. He said the city needs more technical talent, adding, “We should not be building walls, we should be sending plane tickets for the world’s best and brightest.”
In closing the event, LTU President Virinder Moudgil offered this hope to the graduates: “As I travel this country, meeting past graduates of this great university, I am continually amazed at the breadth of their achievement and success. I know that you, too, have within you the abilities and the fortitude for greatness. Today you go forth with the sincere hope and best wishes of all of us here at your alma mater for a lifetime of happiness and accomplishment.”