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Under Armour CEO Urges Marymount Graduates to be Entrepreneurs

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Arlington, Va. – The founder of Under Armour challenged more than 450 graduating seniors at Marymount University’s commencement ceremonies Sunday to be entrepreneurs – whether they start their own businesses or work for Fortune 500 companies – stressing that the role has never been more important.

“Help, encourage and be positive for change and new directions,” Kevin A. Plank said, speaking at the D.A.R. Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. “I promise you the return will be greater than anything you can imagine.”

Plank started Under Armour selling one type of athletic shirt with $17,000 in sales in 1996, the year the former college football player graduated from the University of Maryland. His company now produces footwear, apparel and monitoring devices and does business in 61 countries. He expects annual revenues this year of close to $3 billion.

“Entrepreneurship is more a spirit and an attitude than it is a career path,” he said, noting that he started out with the vague idea “of being an entrepreneur selling stretchy T-shirts.”

He developed the concept after playing football throughout his life and wearing sweat-soaked cotton T-shirts under his pads. He visited a fabric store and a tailor and came up with seven prototype shirts that were lightweight, fit like a second skin and shed moisture.

He said entrepreneurs solve problems and create jobs.

“In 2014, I’d like to challenge all of you to find a problem to solve,” he said.

Marymount awarded Plank an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in recognition of his entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to philanthropic efforts.

Plank established the Cupid’s Cup Business and Innovation Competition and Showcase in 2006 for young entrepreneurs and is an active supporter of the University of Maryland’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. Under Armour also supports initiatives promoting breast health, supporting members of the armed forces and providing access to sports for children in underserved communities.

Chelsea Marie Ritter, who received her bachelor’s degree in psychology, gave the address for the graduating class.

“Will the real world be difficult?” she asked. “Yes. Will we sometimes face defeat? Of course. But when we can look back at everything we’ve accomplished, we know that we’re ready for whatever is to come.”

Dr. Marguerite Rippy, a Marymount professor and chair of the Department of Literature and Languages, addressed 350 graduate students in an afternoon ceremony.

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PHOTO CAPTIONS

PHOTO 1 - Kevin A. Plank, founder and chief executive officer of Under Armour, holds up his honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. (Photo by Leslie E. Kossoff/LK Photos)

PHOTO 2 - Kevin A. Plank is hooded by Carmelita Treacy '60, a member of the University's Board of Trustees and presented with his honorary degree by President Matthew D. Shank. (Photo by Leslie E. Kossoff/LK Photos)

PHOTO 3 - Chelsea Marie Ritter, who gave the address for the graduating class, shoots a “selfie” with her phone. (Photo by Leslie E. Kossoff/LK Photos)

PHOTO 4 - These Saints were happy to get their advanced degrees from the Arts and Sciences Graduate School. (Photo by Leslie E. Kossoff/LK Photos)

PHOTO 5 - President Matthew D. Shank addresses the more than 450 members of Marymount’s Class of 2014 at this year’s commencement ceremony, which was held Sunday, May 18 at the D.A.R. Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Leslie E. Kossoff/LK Photos)