D. Stephen Menzies ’73 is this year’s recipient of the Richard L. Duchossois ’40 Integrity and Values Alumni Award, recognized at Morgan Park Academy’s 147th graduation exercises on July 25, 2020.
The Duchossois Award is Morgan Park Academy’s highest award for alumni, given annually in recognition of its namesake’s lifetime achievements, outstanding professional success, and service to the Academy, his community, and society. Previous recipients include Dr. Frank Burd ’52, Denny Cresap ’52, Bill Hickey ’71, Al Hoffman Jr. ’52, Jim Mitchell ’61, Rajeev Rathi ’84, Spencer Stuart ’40, and Jerome Thrall ’44.
“Mr. Menzies has been a tremendous supporter of the Academy and its students and faculty,” Head of School Mercedes Z. Sheppard said. “His contributions to both our school and his communities make him truly a fitting recipient of the Duchossois Award.”
Menzies is Chief Executive Officer of The Longwood Group, a private merchant bank headquartered in Chicago. The Longwood Group advises and invests with institutional sponsor clients in global surface transportation businesses, with a focus on freight transportation equipment, leasing, and logistic services.
Menzies previously was a Senior Vice President and Group President at Dallas-based Trinity Industries, the largest manufacturer of railcars, inland barges, highway guardrail, and wind towers in North America. Menzies led TrinityRail for 17 years and integrated Trinity’s railcar manufacturing, leasing, and services businesses into market leadership. He also was chairman of Trinity’s $4 billion railcar leasing joint venture.
Menzies holds a Bachelor of Business Studies degree from Tulane University and a Master of Arts in Finance from the University of Alabama, where he serves on the Board of Visitors for the Culverhouse College of Business. He is a former member of the Board of Directors for the National Freight Transportation Association and is an active supporter of charities, organizations supporting victims of domestic violence, and academic institutions.
Menzies also returned to Morgan Park Academy four years ago to deliver the 2016 commencement address.
I am very honored to accept this most prestigious award.
To be recognized by an institution as remarkable as Morgan Park Academy, an institution approaching its 150th anniversary, an institution that has a legacy of excellence and leadership is quite humbling. To be recognized as someone who has brought favor and distinction to the very same institution that has been so formative and influential in my life’s journey is truly heartwarming.
I think about the past recipients of the Duchossois Award. All are accomplished individuals professionally and civically. Each is active in sharing their success through philanthropy. All are forthright in their acknowledgement of the significant role the Academy had in their personal growth and development. To be included with such a distinguished group of leaders is very high praise.
Receiving this award is also a shining reminder to all of us of what is possible as I too sat here in Jones Bowl 47 years ago, anxious to continue my life’s journey but uncertain as to the path. It will also be a symbol to remind me that more is yet to be accomplished.
I accept this award in recognition of the many fine educators I encountered during my 12 years at the Academy whose support, guidance, and care set me on a path of responsibility and achievement. It is rare that a day passes that I don’t hear Coach Warren Jones encouraging me, or Mr. Don Coller holding me accountable to be the best person I could be, or Mr. Mike Scanlon probing the depth of my opinion or thinking, or Mrs. Katie George insisting that I put forth my best effort.
The caring educational professionals and administrators at the Academy prepared me well to adapt to an ambiguous, dynamic, and challenging world. Much of my success can be traced to the foundation built here in these buildings and on this campus. My sincere thank you to them all for the wonderful gifts they shared.
I have gained a growing appreciation each day throughout my life of the great opportunity I had to gain an outstanding education at Morgan Park Academy. I also knew that it came at a great cost and that my biggest supporter, my mother, had sacrificed greatly to give me this gift. Not unlike the many parents of our graduates here today, Mom believed deeply in the value of a quality education for her son as essential for his long-term success. Mom sacrificed greatly to provide me that opportunity at Morgan Park Academy.
Parents of the Class of 2020, you should take great satisfaction with the education you have provided as your child graduates from the Academy today. You should have confidence in your child’s future, knowing the great gift of an excellent education at the Academy you have given. I have no doubt that if they haven’t already acknowledged your wisdom and sacrifice, they will do so very shortly as they embark on their life’s journey.
And to the graduating Class of 2020, I am confident that you leave the Academy well prepared to continue your journey to so many outstanding colleges and universities! Really remarkable! Congratulations!
But I also suspect there is some apprehension and, perhaps, anxiety over current events and your future. It is understandable. Be confident that your education at Morgan Park Academy has given you the tools and ability to comprehend and understand life’s events and, most importantly, to think independently about solutions and opportunities. Lean into the conversations of today, the debate, and the discourse. Shape your thoughts by listening and learning. Apply facts, not emotion. Learn to disagree with someone’s opinion while being respectful to the individual.
Our great country and our society known as the great democratic experiment needs thoughtful leaders. It needs leaders capable of making a difference. I look forward to watching your progress.
Congratulations, Class of 2020! And thank you, again, for this incredible honor. Thank you, Morgan Park Academy, you have always had and always will have a prominent place in my heart.