News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 26, 2013

Positive Change: Rose-Hulman celebrates 135th commencement

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Spending their careers on the positive side of change is the direction that new graduates of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology received during the school’s 135th commencement on Saturday.

Felda Hardymon, professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, partner in Bessemer Venture Partners, and a 1969 RHIT graduate, shared his entrepreneurial advice that the new degree-holders should be part of the innovation economy, rather than the mainstream economy.

“You don’t have to go looking for the mainstream economy. They will find you,” he said of the Fortune 500 companies that seem to be the big players in the workforce. Those companies receive a lot of attention, but the list changes frequently enough that the companies on the list today were probably not there 20 years ago.

“These companies as a group do not create jobs,” Hardymon said. “With few exceptions, large companies shrink over the long haul.”

The companies that do create jobs are the small innovators and their technology, which promote the growth of mainstream economy. Apple computers is one such innovator.

“This means that in our time, if we don’t run out of ideas, we can always make things better,” Hardymon said.

Culture rewards self-starters, he said, so he encouraged the graduates to start thinking about their own companies now. Even if the company does not work out, he said, the graduates have the safety net of their RHIT education, which has value in the technology marketplace.

In conclusion, Hardymon said that as a mathematician, he likes lists. So he shared his own 10-point list with the Class of 2013:

n Read history — especially in the field where you work.

n Don’t assume fossil fuels in any project for the future.

n Make sure you have many satisfying times when you can say, “I made that.”

n Trust your own analysis.

n Be conscious of finding your own value, not relying on a mentor.

n Never count on a third quarter to improve earnings.

n Don’t save anything for retirement — do everything while you have the health, interest and opportunity.

n But, save going to Paris until at least age 50, because life experiences will make the trip more enjoyable.

n Never pass up a chance to use a restroom in New York City, which translates to never pass up an opportunity that might be a long time in arriving again.

n And, enjoy the journey, remembering that goals are useful but arbitrary points along the way.

RHIT presented 398 bachelor’s degree and 44 master’s degrees during its 135th commencement. Of the graduates, 92 percent have already accepted employment, received military commissions or have been admitted to the gradate school of their choice. The average accepted starting salary for the graduates is $65,867 — a 3 percent increase from last year.

The graduates also included five seniors who have earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or Follow her on Twitter @