College of Business preparing more ethical leaders through new, improved programs

AMES, Iowa -- Enron, Adelphia, Global Crossing, WorldCom. These once powerful names in the business world are now synonymous with major corporations that were toppled by unethical business practices by some of their leaders -- resulting in major financial losses for their employees and shareholders alike.

Since the financial ruin of these companies, business schools have placed greater emphasis on promoting sound business ethics to their students. Iowa State University is committing resources to some new and revised business ethics programs -- and for good reason.

"In the past, faculty would go into the classes and convince students that social ethics and business responsibility were important," said University professor of Management Brad Shrader, who was a co-director of ISU's Murray Bacon Center for Ethics in Business from 1993-97. "But now, students all know that it's important, and that's why you see it receiving greater emphasis in terms of programming."

ETHICS BECOMES CENTER OF CAMPAIGN ATTENTION -- The Iowa State College of Business has identified enhancement of The Bacon Center for Ethics as one of its programmatic priorities in the $800 million "Campaign Iowa State: With Pride and Purpose" comprehensive fundraising campaign. Established in 1993, the Murray Bacon Center for Ethics helps ISU students and Iowa firms understand ethical dilemmas of the present and future. Activities of the center have included executive training, lecture series and research projects. "The Bacon Center for Ethics has unlimited potential to increase its impact on developing students' understanding of ethical dilemmas and how to handle them professionally," said ISU College of Business Dean Labh Hira. Through private support generated during Campaign Iowa State, Hira would like to implement new initiatives with the center, including an endowed named faculty position, graduate fellowships, guest lecture series, visiting professorship and additional programs to further students' awareness of business ethics. CONTACT: Labh Hira, (515) 294-2422,; Brad Shrader, (515) 294-3050,

FOSTERING GOOD CITIZENS FIRST -- The Gerdin Citizenship Program (GCP) is a new voluntary program started this fall for ISU College of Business freshmen and sophomores to develop their knowledge and abilities in the following seven areas: professionalism, leadership, global awareness, diversity, ethics, civic responsibility and public discourse. According to Kay Palan, an associate dean in the college, the program has 120 students participating. To become a Gerdin Citizen, students must complete activities related to the seven identified areas. As an example, students will need to participate in two community service projects to meet the civic responsibility requirements, and they'll give four spontaneous one-minute speeches to qualify for public discourse. "Because of the nature of this program, we anticipate that it will take students a year to complete all of the activities," said Palan. "Sometime in late April, we will have a celebration event to honor all students who have completed their citizenship program." Upon completion of the program, students receive a certificate, although Palan said the real value is in getting a head start in developing the kinds of skills that are attractive to employers. The program's schedule of activities is available at this link. CONTACT: Kay Palan, (515) 294-9526,

ON THE ETHICS CASE -- A team from Iowa State's College of Business recently participated in its first business ethics competition. Shrader took two seniors -- management majors Ellen Chambers of Clinton, Iowa; and Brittney Schmidt of Garner, Iowa -- to last weekend's 2007 Eller Ethics Case Competition, sponsored by the University of Arizona's Eller College of Management. The competition featured 20 teams from the United States, Canada and Mexico. Iowa State's team advanced to the second of three rounds, beating teams from Rutgers and the University of Southern California. CONTACT: Brad Shrader, (515) 294-3050,