BETHANY, W.Va. – Bethany alumnus Bob McCann, President Americas of UBS AG and Wealth Management Americas, addressed Bethany College’s 2015 graduating class as part of the institution’s 175th Anniversary Commencement Weekend. McCann delivered his remarks, “Your Future – One Character @ a Time,” to Bethany’s 130 graduates on May 16 at the Tilock Amphitheatre in the Pennington Quadrangle.
McCann reflected on his four years at Bethany, as well as his own Commencement ceremony 35 years ago. Four key lessons defined his Bethany experience, he said.
“There is no substitute for hard work,” he said, and while “connections might open doors, nothing builds success or character like putting in the time to truly master something.”
“Be confident and accountable for your actions,” McCann said, explaining the importance of a good reputation. “You’re representing your family your hometown and your fellow Bethanians.”
“There is nothing more important than family,” and while it’s important to make new connections and grow, the people that helped you get there must always be remembered.
His fourth lesson: “Your values and faith matter.”
“In the end, it’s not about what you accomplished, but how you did it. Doing what is right – especially when no one is watching – and giving generously of yourself, being a good neighbor and a caring person – those are among the values upon which this school was founded, and they matter just as much today as they did 175 years ago.
While the world is ever-changing and can seem daunting, he assured Bethany’s graduates that they will find their way.
“Let me be clear – the world needs you. It needs smart, young, talented individuals, like all of you sitting here today, to go out and make their mark,” he said. “So make the most of this time. It goes by quickly, and the next thing you know, you’re the one sharing life lessons with the Class of 2050.”
He ended his address with a question to the Class of 2015: In ten or 20 years, he asked, what would you want your Twitter profile to say about you in its 160 character limit?
“Pulitzer Prize winner? Senator? Educator? Chemist? Entrepreneur? The screen is blank, but the space is limited. I encourage you to be thoughtful, be bold, get to work, and enjoy the journey. But also, to not forget where you came from.
“Bethany has shaped and defined who you are. So whether is it for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or the old-fashioned conversation, I urge you to always include Bethany in your profile.”
As head of the Americas region for UBS, McCann leads the execution of a cross-divisional strategy to deliver the full capabilities of the firm to corporate, institutional, individual and government clients. Since 2009, he has led the Wealth Management Americas division and served as a member of the UBS Group Executive Board.
A 1980 Bethany graduate, McCann has a long history of giving back to his alma mater. In 2009, he established the McCann Family Student Investment Fund at Bethany. The fund, the first of its kind in West Virginia, allows students to serve as investment professionals responsible for a $1.5 million endowment. McCann also serves as vice chair of Bethany’s Board of Trustees.
Bethany College President Dr. Scott D. Miller also addressed the graduates. “Make no mistake,” he said. “We live in challenging times. Your generation is called to address worldwide strife, to rebuild our nation’s roads and bridges, to preserve our fragile environment, to explore further sources of renewable energy, to foster innovation and economic growth.
“It’s a tall order, but generations of Bethanians before you have left these halls to record accomplishments toward these goals and more. Now’s your chance to make the most of your life.”
Bethany College is a small college of national distinction located on a picturesque and historic 1,300-acre campus in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. Founded in 1840, Bethany is the state’s oldest private college.