Young Professional Organization

Below are President Glasser's remarks from the Young Professional Organization event on May 19, 2011.

I’m always happy to meet young professionals who are making a difference in our community. Your many achievements – professionally and personally -- demonstrate that universities are educating talented and giving graduates.

I understand that you generally don’t have a formal program at these gatherings, so I appreciate you giving me a few moments of your time. I promise to be brief so you can get on to the real business at hand – making dinner plans.

i was asked to share some of my secrets of success.  I’ll let you in on a little secret, as long as you promise not to leave after I share it.

The biggest secret is that you already know most of these secrets. You practice most of them every day. But a little reinforcement and encouragement are always good reminders.

My story of success started when I was a child in Baltimore because of my role model. My mother instilled in me a desire to serve others. She rarely missed an opportunity to help those in need. Every Christmas and Easter, our family went to a beautiful church near our home to put together food baskets or serve meals.

Yes, if you can imagine it, a Jewish family going to a Catholic church on the holiest of Christian holidays to lend a hand. To my mother, it made no difference. Volunteering was part of what we did, part of who we were, and who I became.

So, secret number one is find time to help others. I know many of you volunteer in churches, schools and throughout the community, making the Peoria area a better region to live and work. Keep it up; charities are always looking for another helping hand. Keep that spirit of giving and encourage others to join you. The payoff can’t be measured in dollars and cents.

My mother was also instrumental in persuading me to attend law school. When I was young girl, I read To Kill a Mockingbird and immediately I knew I wanted to become a lawyer. I imagined myself demanding justice the same way Atticus Finch did in the courtroom in that small Alabama town.

The problem was I am a woman… and at that time few women pursued law degrees. My father knew how difficult my path would be and he discouraged me in an effort to protect me from being rejected. But my mother felt otherwise, saying, “Let her try.”

Though it wasn’t easy, I overcame the doubts and prejudices to graduate from the University of Maryland School of Law, one of the few women in my class. Later I became the first female Labor Commissioner in Baltimore County and now I am the first woman to lead Bradley University.

So here are secrets two and three. Pursue your passion and don’t let others define you. Your passion may not be the most lucrative. It may not be the most obvious or the choice of others. But this is your life. Follow your heart.

The Chinese philosopher Confucius had this advice: “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” I put it another way: do what you love. Love what you do. Follow your passion.

You probably realize that I no longer practice law. Some years into my career, I realized my passion had moved to another profession, that higher education was my calling.

Helping guide and shape the lives of young people is a responsibility I enthusiastically embrace. There is no better feeling than getting to campus and being greeted by energetic and talented students and gifted and caring faculty members.

I am rewarded each day when students discover a hidden talent, achieve something new or find their own life’s passion. I am rewarded when our distinguished faculty members make headway in brain research or mapping an organism’s genome, or when they simply have a successful collaboration with students.

So, here’s another secret from my life. Don’t be afraid to change course. Don’t close any door until you’ve gone through it. You never know where it may lead. And who knows? You may just find yourself right where you belong.

I mentioned the committed students, faculty and staff we have at Bradley University. Their outstanding reputations – and performance -- attracted me to Bradley nearly four years ago. So here’s the next secret:  surround yourself with high-quality people.

Good people challenge you. They support you. They work to find optimal solutions. They are problem solvers. Some of my best ideas have come from brainstorming with others, including faculty and students. Having dedicated men and women working with me makes my job easier. But it also makes Bradley an institution where students want to learn and grow, and faculty want to teach.

And when you are surrounded by good people, mine them as resources. Ask them questions and bounce ideas off them. I don’t look for yes-men or yes-women. Having bobbleheads around you won’t bring new ideas to the table. Rather, surround yourself with independent thinkers who see things with different eyes.

One person can’t know everything. So have experts available for consultation. At Bradley I’m fortunate that there are authorities knowledgeable in everything from economics to politics to photography to painting. Those experts help me keep up with current trends, inside and outside higher education.

At Bradley we’re on the cutting edge both academically and with our new facilities. We have created new majors in sports communication, video game animation and social media marketing and an internship in dietetics. We are exploring a stronger collaboration between our colleges of engineering and business, a convergence that will familiarize students with the disciplines of the other. In doing so, Bradley students will be better prepared for the demands of the changing global marketplace.

You can see from this grand coliseum how facilities can change a university. The coliseum is as fine a facility as any in the nation, and it will allow Bradley athletes – and students – to compete with anyone. The Markin student recreation center has become the social hub on campus that attracts 1,700 students and faculty members each day. we expect the same excellence in architecture and usage once Westlake hall is completed and new generations of teachers and health care professionals begin taking advantage of state-of-the-art classrooms and labs.

Most of the ideas for these facilities and new majors bubble up; they don’t come from the top down. I’m sure the same is true in your organization. So it is critical that the lines of communication are open and that voices are heard and ideas shared.

Now let me offer some advice from a few years in the trenches.

It is the responsibility of every leader to maintain hope. Hope is a powerful force, even when the situation is dark. Keep a positive attitude. Being a girty gloom won’t solve any problems. Trust me, being positive is contagious and it can lead to solutions.

And while I’d encourage you to be flexible in many ways, you can’t have variable values. Act with integrity in word and deed, for without integrity you have little left. So one of the most important keys I want to share with you is to stick to your core values. Then apply them in whatever circumstances you face. They will serve you well.

You already know this advice – or else you wouldn’t be here -- but it’s worth repeating. Network. Use every opportunity to introduce yourself to someone new. Your young professionals organization is a great way to meet people and exchange ideas … and phone numbers. Who knows, you might even find a mentor or role model. There are opportunities to discover, all you have to do is search them out.

And finally, I offer you one last secret of success. I said earlier that you should keep your options open … and you should. But if you don’t find what you’re looking for, start something new. Think outside the box. Better yet, think as if there is no box. Look around the corner of the box to find your passion.

Let me share with you a story of a Peoria woman who did just that.

Her dream was to fulfill a promise she made to her dying sister to find a cure for breast cancer. This was many years ago and cancer wasn’t discussed in polite company then … nor were breasts.

But this Peorian was determined. She scrapped together a couple hundred dollars. She brainstormed fundraising ideas. She surrounded herself with those who knew more than her about philanthropy and cancer.

Today, Nancy Goodman Brinker’s dream has blossomed into Race for the Cure, the world’s largest fundraising organization to combat cancer. Ms. Brinker’s pledge to her sister Susan G. Komen has blossomed. Her vision has become a lasting legacy that has changed the world for the better.

As I said, think as if there is no box. Think about what you would do if you knew you could not fail. And then do it.

I’ll leave you with a quote from author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau. His secret to success is to… go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.

I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you and I thank you for visiting Bradley. I wish you all the best of luck as you pursue your careers, your dreams, and your passions.

Please come back and see us again on the Bradley hilltop.