Commencement Address Highlights Close Relationship Between Dow and Northwood
The bonds between Northwood and Dow are growing stronger, with several recent examples of support and cooperation between the two organizations.
In December 2018, Jim Fitterling, Dow’s chief executive officer, presented the keynote address at Northwood’s commencement ceremony, encouraging graduates to consider their new role in the world with an understanding of how Dow views that role.
“Corporate America – companies like Dow all across the nation – needs you to help us fulfill our mission. Now, a lot of you may think that mission is simply making money, but that’s a very narrow – and outdated – view of capitalism,” Fitterling said. “We’re actually engaged in creating new wealth and helping spread that wealth throughout society.
“This form of capitalism – called inclusive capitalism – means that we’re engaged in the business of making the world a better place, through hiring workers, creating new products, solving old problems, and working with our communities on quality of life issues. Yes, we need to make money to keep the enterprise going and to satisfy our owners, but we’ll fail miserably if that’s the only outcome we focus on,” he said.
Fitterling’s comments came on the heels of engagement by several of Dow’s top leaders in a community service project aligned to Northwood’s Go MAD (Make a Difference) Day. While in Midland for the company’s Corporate Operations Strategy Week, 31 Dow leaders joined forces with 88 volunteers from a variety of Northwood groups to package meals for the Kids Coalition Against Hunger on Nov. 13.
Working with United Way of Midland County and Hidden Harvest food distribution organization, the volunteers packaged 10,074 meals for families locally, across the country, and around the world.
“It was a great collaboration, bridging two strong Midland entities, Northwood University and Dow Chemical,” said Rebecca Rekeweg, who helped organize the activity in her role as director of Volunteer Engagement for United Way of Midland County. “Being able to help connect Northwood’s future global leaders with current Dow global leaders was phenomenal. It was a great experience for everyone involved.”
Students worked shoulder-to-shoulder with Dow leaders packing the meals. The activity took place a few weeks after Northwood’s annual Go MAD Day, a campuswide surge of community service and volunteerism. That spirit of contributing to a greater good is just what Fitterling talked about in his commencement address.
“If you think about it, Corporate America is the largest civil institution in the country,” Fitterling said from the podium inside Riepma Arena. “And, increasingly, that position carries with it a moral obligation not only to ‘do well’ from a financial standpoint, but to also ‘do good.’”
Fitterling pointed out that at least one current Dow employee (and probably many future employees) was among those about to receive a diploma, and he offered insight into what Dow and other companies value in the people they hire.
“We flourish on the power of individuals. We’re proud of team Dow – the whole of our company – but we progress, we survive, and we thrive when individuals are free to bring their whole selves – their authentic selves – to work every day,” Fitterling said. “I encourage you – wherever you are – to help create communities of people who value not only a diversity of people, but also a diversity of thought.”