Session Descriptions

Session I Keynote Address

Creating an Ethical Organization

William Ruud, UNI President

Session II Panel Presentation

Creating an Ethical Culture in an Organization: Strategies and Issues

Michele Temeyer, Director of BH County Extension and Outreach (Moderator); Renee Christoffer, Senior VP for Administration, Veridian Credit Union; Rich Johnson, Director, Global Business Conduct Strategy, John Deere; Eric Kooy, General Manager, Target Distribution Center; Mark Witmer, Executive Director, North Star Community Services

Culture has been defined as the character of an organization.  Michael Josephson, President and Founder of Josephson Institute of Ethics, stated, “Character is ethics in action.  It not only is a vital concept driving school reforms focusing on the teaching of core ethical values and principled decisions-making, it is also an issue worthy of emphasis in the workplace.  People without character, who have no moral compass or commitment to ethical principles, create an unreasonably high risk for companies that will pay the price of their moral deficiency.”  This panel of business and organization leaders will share how they build a culture of character and how it influences workplace behavior and productivity.

Session III Discussion

Ethical Dilemmas You May Encounter in the Workplace

Craig VanSandt, UNI Associate Professor of Management, and David W. Wilson Chair in Business Ethics; Chad Abbas, Tax Partner, Bergan Paulsen

Ethical decision-making in the workplace can be influenced by a variety of factors, including norms and expectations in the organizational environment; the character, personality, and pressures experienced by the decision-maker(s), the immediate circumstances at hand, and how the individual assesses the costs and benefits involved in those circumstances.  The ethical decision-making process may be enhanced by an awareness of these factors and by the development of skills needed to assess situations and take ethical action.  In this session, facilitators will invite audience review and discussion of specific ethical dilemmas that commonly arise in the workplace, with the goal of demonstrating how ethical decisions can be arrived at and encouraging dialogue about the process. 

Session IV Panel Presentation

Preparing for Ethical Challenges in the Workplace

Victoria Robinson, Dept Head and Professor, Educational Leadership & Postsecondary Education, UNI (Moderator); Francis Degnin, Associate Professor, Philosophy & World Religions, UNI; Denise Pralle, Associate Professor, Nursing, Allen College; Laura Terlip, Associate Professor, Communication Studies, UNI; Judy Ruud, Adjunct Instructor, Communication Studies, UNI. 

What is the role of an academic institution in preparing its graduates to face the ethical challenges of organizational employment, participation, or leadership?  Are ethical standards and moral values already established before an individual reaches high school graduation? Does a public university have any right to define or “teach” ethical behavior?  Does a liberal arts education imply the development of an ethical system that supersedes students’ cultural, social, or religious backgrounds?  Are academic codes of honor comparable to codes of professional ethics?  What teaching approaches might promote a student’s (or employee's) ethical development?

These are just a few of the hard questions involved in determining how a university might effectively prepare its students for the ethical challenges of the workplace.  A panel of faculty members from Allen College, Hawkeye Community College, and the University of Northern Iowa will respond to these issues and discuss ways in which they can and cannot prepare students to assess ethics and become ethical workers and professionals within the organizations they join.