Today we attended the Honors Convocation at the Henry R. Bloch School of Business and Public Administration of the University of Missouri, Kansas City, from which our son will graduate tomorrow with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. The Honors Convocation was combined with the ribbon cutting ceremony for and dedication of the Marion R. Bloch Terrace and Park on the grounds of the business school. Mrs. Bloch and her husband Henry were present, as were three of their children and one granddaughter representing her mother. The three children and the granddaughter read short dedicatory bits which were basically love letters to their mother.
The chancellor of UMKC, Dr. Guy Bailey, spoke briefly about the dedication of the Bloch family to the university and how grateful he and the university community were. And then the dean of the Bloch School, Dr. O. Homer Erekson, echoed the same sentiments on behalf of the business school and its faculty and students. A string quartet from the UMKC Conservatory of Music played; uniformed waiters and waitresses served finger sandwiches and petits fours; the weather cooperated and it was warm and sunny, but not too warm, nor too sunny. Everything was lovely.
After the dedication and ribbon cutting, there were various awards given the various graduates. Undergraduate and graduate inductees into the business management and public administration honor societies and fraternities were introduced and applauded. The young lady who had achieved the highest G.P.A. in four years of undergraduate study of business was introduced and honored. And then those graduating with “Latin Honors” were introduced. Amongst those graduating cum laude was our son, Aidan Patrick.
Many of those who were introduced were dressed “to the nines”. Others wore “sport coat and tie” sort of attire. Others were in “business casual” (khakis and open collar). And then there was A.P. … a pair of cotton shorts (a sort of beige and green tartan) and a green check sport shirt (worn tail untucked).
That’s my boy! A true non-conformist.
I think that Henry Bloch may have appreciated the outlandish dress my child sported. Henry Bloch as a younger man was something of a conformist himself. He thought outside the box. While in business school he heard a professor say that although big business had lots of resources for management, smaller businesses did not. So he and his brother Leon (and later his brother Richard) opened a company in 1955 to provide those services for small businesses. They offered tax services as a courtesy and eventually considered dropping that line as not a significant source of revenue. A client suggested maybe they should advertise tax preparation, which they did … at the surprisingly low price of $5.00! The rest is history.
Noncomformity can be a burden sometimes. It can cause one to miss opportunities. But it can also create opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be there.
I’m proud of my son and I applaud his nonconformity. (He’s taking after his father, I have to admit … my senior year of college, I had long hair and a beard, too. I did not, however, graduate with honors.)