University News

Global Media Entrepreneur Urges Graduates "Keep Your Minds Open to All Possibilities"

Paul Heth, CEO and founder of Patton Ventures, which invests in and operates film-related businesses, gave the keynote address and received an honorary degree at the afternoon Commencement ceremony for graduates for the University’s College of Business and its Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences.

May 16, 2018

Paul Heth, CEO and founder of Patton Ventures
Paul Heth, CEO and founder of Patton Ventures

Paul Heth, an entrepreneur widely credited with transforming the Russian cinema industry into one of the world’s top ten markets, told graduates of the University of New Haven’s College of Business and its Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences that he still has "bruises on my nose" from all the times he had doors slammed in his face by world-be investors.

"If I’ve been successful in my career, it’s likely because I’ve been smart enough to learn from my failures," he said. "But that process taught me the value of persistence and a positive attitude. As you leave your campus to make your mark on the world, I would encourage you to keep a positive attitude, even during your most trying times."

He told the graduate that through their careers and their lives they will be presented with opportunity, explaining that we he arrived in Russia in the early 1990s – with only $600 to his name – that the film industry in the country was nonexistent.

"All the things in this world you aspire to are literally yours for the taking."Paul Heth, CEO and founder of Patton Ventures

"So I got this wild idea to fill this gaping need," said Heth who during the afternoon ceremony on Saturday was awarded an honorary Doctor of business administration degree. "My business partner and I would open our own English-language movie theater."

They secured the rights to the 1992 drama "The Plague," and proceeded to sell out their single-screen movie theater – in the lobby of the Moscow Radisson – every night for two weeks.

Seamus Mahon ’18
Seamus Mahon ’18

"Keep your eyes open – keep your minds open – to all possibilities, even possibilities you can hardly conceive of today," he continued. "It’s entirely likely that some of you will enjoy successful careers in industries based on technology that does not exist today. That’s because the world is changing all the time.

Also as part of the ceremony, Patricia Melton, president of New Haven Promise, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, and University of New Haven Board member Allison Schieffelin, CEO and president of The Lighting Quotient, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree.

In his remarks, Seamus Mahon, president of the Class of 2018, encouraged his classmates to maintain the friendships they made. "We have formed bonds with one another that will, hopefully, last a lifetime," he said.

"Even though we don’t know what is ahead of us, you must continue to live out your life with all your might, you must never consider your own life to be something insignificant, and you must never forget about your friends who love you," he continued.

Brittany Reed ’18
Brittany Reed ’18

Brittany Reed, president of the Graduate Student Council, urged the Class of 2018 to live in the moment.

"Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans," she said. "We are often so caught up in our own destinations that we forget to appreciate the journey. The experiences I have had and the friends I have made at the University of New Haven are ones that I will take with me for the rest of my life, and I hope you all can say the same."

On May 12, the University of New Haven awarded nearly 1,600 degrees during two Commencement ceremonies celebrating the Class of 2018.