Business Honor Students Urged to Embody Virtues
110 Students Inducted into the UT Dallas Chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma
May 12, 2009
For UT Dallas business honor society inductees, Beta Gamma Sigma is more than a name. It’s also a moral code.
Blaine Nelson, a managing partner with Deloitte, told this year’s UT Dallas inductees to Beta Gamma Sigma, the international business honor society, how meaningful these three Greek letters should be in their careers.
Last month’s induction ceremony celebrated the 110 new members joining the UT Dallas School of Management chapter of the honor society.
Nelson, a CPA who also serves as chairman of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Board of Governors, reminded the members, faculty and friends who attended the ceremony of the meanings of the three Greek letters: Beta stands for honor, Gamma for wisdom and Sigma for earnestness.
“Your challenge today – and for the rest of your lives – will be to embody honor, wisdom and earnestness, to live them as fully as possible,” Nelson told inductees. “This may be relatively easy to do at Beta Gamma Sigma events. But it gets harder when you hit the real world.”
The society seeks new members among the past year’s School of Management graduates who posted high overall GPAs and had exhibited a commitment to the school’s excellence while an undergraduate student. In 2008, the society inducted just 50 new members.
“More former students are feeling the need to be connected to their alma mater, I think, in these uncertain times,” said Monica Powell, a School of Management assistant dean, explaining this year’s standout group. Powell also serves as the chapter’s president. “We had 60 of the 110 inductees return to campus to take part in the ceremony this year. Maybe in this economy we’re all realizing we need to embrace our communities more and be supportive of one another.”
Beta Gamma Sigma chapters may organize on university campuses with a business school accredited by the AACSB – Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
“This is really a testament to the quality of students who chose to get their business degrees here,” said Hasan Pirkul, the school’s dean and Caruth Professor of Management. “These inductees show they are committed to not only their education but also to the world around them. And that so many of these former students decided to come back for the ceremony says that they continue to value the time they spent in this building.”
Nelson told the audience he started learning the roles of honor, wisdom and earnestness as a boy growing up on an Idaho wheat farm. He recalled the time a neighboring farmer went back on his word to sell a crop to one buyer in order to make more money with another. The farmer made more money that year, but his reputation was shot. He ended up losing his farm.
As an example of earnestness, he told the audience about the time, when he was a young accountant, a client wanted him to falsify a report. Nelson refused and in his youthful earnestness, thought the client would see the errors of his ways. Instead, the client complained to Nelson’s boss. Nelson remembers what his boss told him: “Sometimes, when people have their backs to the wall, they resort to behaviors that even they would find offensive in another environment.” Nelson told the UT Dallas audience, “In other words, people under stress rationalize things.” He suggested the new inductees remember this as they enter the often stressful world of work.
Nelson warned his listeners against equating wisdom with book knowledge. “Wisdom does not mean knowing everything. And it certainly doesn’t mean knowing how to act in every situation. Wisdom means that when you do encounter a situation in which you’re unsure of how to act, you have the resources to figure it out.”
Powell, the Beta Gamma Sigma chapter president, said even longtime members needed to be reminded of the honor society’s fundamental purpose. “In these times, especially, we want our students and former students to know there are no shortcuts to creating an honorable reputation. It’s a one-day-at-a-time habit. I hope our new inductees remember that as they go out into the business world.”