At the end of each academic year Darlene Smith, dean of the Merrick School of Business, holds an All Boards Summit for members of the school's six alumni and discipline-focused advisory boards. Well prepared for the meeting as she may have been, she wasn’t expecting what Jonathan Schwartz, B.S. '92, M.B.A. '99 and chair of the Dean's Business Advisory Council, had brewing. Schwartz, along with several others, worked behind the scenes to raise funds and purchase a remarkable symbol of excellence in business education: a Beta Gamma Sigma Bronze Key, several feet tall and embedded in a decorative base with a dedication plaque. The key, placed in the lobby of the business school, was presented during a brief ceremony on June 7, surprising Dean Smith and capping off a year of positive growth and change for the school.
During the presentation, Schwartz and his fellow board members recounted the steps they went through to pull off this “covert operation.” During a 2012 Dean’s Business Advisory Council meeting, Schwartz recalled, the dean mentioned that a Beta Gamma Sigma Bronze Key is a visual representation of a quarter century of excellence proudly earned by the Merrick School. Smith said it in passing, Schwartz told the crowd gathered for the ceremony, and then she moved on to higher priority items such as strategy and budget.
In his fundraising letter for the key, Schwartz emphasized that displaying the forged and sculpted piece is the ultimate symbol of Merrick students’ scholastic achievements. The letter also noted that the key serves as a reminder of the tireless efforts of Dean Smith, her staff and the faculty, to raise the school’s profile among students, alumni, donors and friends, and the leadership’s consistent pursuit of academic excellence through innovative courses.
In his remarks Schwartz, made it clear that the effort to secure the key involved an outpouring of support for the school and the leadership of Dean Smith.
When he finally unveiled the 900 pound Beta Gamma Sigma bronze key, Schwartz let everyone know how integral Michael O’Malley, M.B.A. ’97, was in helping with the project. O’Malley, co-founder and CEO of Concrete Protection & Restoration—a Baltimore-based specialty contractor, worked with UB staff members to get the right look for the concrete base – another secret part of the project that involved choosing among eight different concrete finishes.
“This is a symbol of the greatness found at this university and the business school,” Schwartz told the group. “And Darlene, it is a testament to everything you do every day—in terms of making this a great place for students and a great place for people like us to spend our time to help you out. We’re big supporters and fans of yours and we admire everything you do.”
Smith, who claimed she was speechless, nonetheless gathered her thoughts and responded:
“I am in shock. I’m humbled and honored. This is more than recognition of our almost 30 years associated with Beta Gamma Sigma,” she said. “When I look out in this room and I see so many alums and friends, I want you to know that each one of you represent what this key stands for—your intelligence, your integrity, your leadership, your values. I want to thank you for recognizing the school. It isn’t really about me; it is my team, our faculty—who are second to none and our exceptional students. I thank you for your support over the years—your guidance, your wisdom, your patience, your tenacity. In years to come, no matter who is dean or who is on the board, this will stand as a symbol of what we stand for here in the Merrick School of Business. From the bottom of my heart, thank you very much.”
The Beta Sigma Gamma Bronze Key is now on display in the lobby of the William H. Thumel Sr. Business Center, home of the Merrick School of Business, 11 W. Mt. Royal Ave. Stop by and see it—the building is open weekdays from 7:30 a.m. until 11 p.m.