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HAMPTON ROADS BUSINESS LEADERS ADDRESS ODU GRADUATES

In an age of corporate scandal, ethics are just as important as success, two of Hampton Roads business leaders told graduates and assembled well-wishers during commencement exercises Saturday at Old Dominion University's Ted Constant Convocation Center.

"The most powerful lessons about ethics do not come from the classroom or from a book, but from a family and relationships where people treat one another with respect and consideration," said Thomas Schievelbein, president of Northrup Grumman Newport News, who addressed graduates during the afternoon ceremony. "Nothing can destroy a corporation - or an individual - faster than a lapse in ethics."

David R. Goode, chairman of Norfolk Southern Corp., who addressed graduates in a morning ceremony, put it this way: "Don't assume that life in the real world - whatever part of it you're looking at - is as corrupt or as venal or as greedy as the television images of executives and the newspaper headlines about corporate scandals would have you believe. You should not hesitate to get involved. To the contrary, I'd say, 'Jump on in. The water's fine'.

"The people with honesty and integrity are the ones destined to lead the way. They have the strength to succeed in times of uncertainty. You can hang your hat on them. Seek them out and add your strength to theirs."

Approximately 2,000 students were candidates for graduation at Saturday's ceremonies. Commencement was split for the first time to accommodate graduates and well-wishers inside the new Constant Center.

The overriding responsibility today, as it always has been, Goode said, is for our professional and personal lives to maintain a strong sense of ethics in spite of the "hype and glitz" that typified the pre-Enron era.

"Don't get me wrong," he said. "I'm a businessman. Certainly, very few of you will pass up a legitimate opportunity to earn a million dollars, or whatever amount rings your bell. I hope there is plenty of ambition in this room. Pursuing financial success is at the heart of our system. The opportunity is out there. ODU has prepared you for it. So go for it. Jump in the pool."

The Newport News-based shipyard recruits and attracts more employees from Old Dominion than any other college or university, Schievelbein said, with nearly 800 ODU alumni working there.

"I believe we employ so many ODU grads because we attract people who share our values and our ethics. Plus, we attract people who want to become a part of history."

Schievelbein urged students to continue their quest for honesty and to "live your dreams in an ethical manner with a strong set of values as your guide. You are blessed with a great intelligence - a first-rate education - and the rest of your lives in front of you. I encourage you to count your blessings."

This article was posted on: May 10, 2003

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