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Episode 88 – Ethics At Its Finest

Director of Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative, Dr. Sharon Clinebell, discusses how UNC collaborates with universities and programs to foster a higher standard of ethics and integrity for students.

Director of Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative, Dr. Sharon Clinebell, discusses how UNC collaborates with universities and programs to foster a higher standard of ethics and integrity for students.

Hi, I'm Sharon Clinebell. I'm the director of the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative at the Monfort of College of Business at UNC. I'm also a professor of Management.

The Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative was created from the Daniels Fund. Bill Daniels was a cable pioneer. He made his fortune in that - A considerable fortune. The Daniel's Fund was created after his death. It's about a billion dollar foundation. And one of the areas in which he wanted to fund was ethics education. He was known as a very ethical leader and he felt that it was important to bring that information to the next generation. One of his favorite sayings was that it takes a lifetime to build a good reputation, but only a few minutes to destroy it. And so he was very passionate about bringing ethics education to students. So part of the Daniels Fund is ethics education centered in the business school usually, but we also do some campus outreach. So we're centered here in the college of business, but we do a lot of things outside.

Might be a good idea to define what is ethics?

Oh, that's a good question. A lot of people define it as a what you do when no one is looking.

One thing that the Daniels Fund really emphasizes is principle-based ethics. And so they have eight principles that we try to emphasize throughout our programming. And the eight principles are



Rule of law.






So what Bill Daniels thought is that those are universal principles and if you use those in your business dealings, you'll be doing ethical deals. The famous story about Bill Daniels is he owned the Utah stars and went bankrupt. And so when you go bankrupt, you're legally, your debts are legally discharged. But about five or so years later, when he had his fortune comeback, he went back and he tracked down season ticket holders, players, coaches, vendors, people that worked there, and paid everything that he owed back to them. And the letter that he wrote to them was basically that he wasn't legally required to do it, but he would sleep a hell of a lot better.

It's, it's incredible too just remember that you can go from all the way down to the bottom and then go all the way back up. When it comes to UNC, how did UNC get involved with the Daniels Fund?

So when the Daniels Fund started the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative, they started with a pilot program with eight universities and we were one of the eight and they just went to different business schools to see if they had interest in doing it. And they do have requirements, and we do follow the requirements of the Daniel's Fund, such as emphasizing those eight principles. We were interested, and got involved. Now, I was not involved at the very beginning. I came on later, but we've been through two, five year grant periods. So we had what they call 1.0 the pilot period for five years, and then we are finishing our second period 2.0 and we were just told last week that we've been recommended for 3.0.  We will know that after the board meets in November. 

The universities that are in it right now, and all the universities, will be in the four states that Bill Daniels did business in or lived in. And in fact, he was born in Greeley, right across the street from the business school. But he didn't live here long. But he has ties to Colorado. He also grew up in New Mexico and then he did business in Wyoming and Utah.

The 11 schools are UNC,

Colorado State University

University of Colorado - Denver

University of Denver

Colorado Mesa University

University of Wyoming

University of Utah

New Mexico State University

University of New Mexico

University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

And in this last round of the grant, they added the University of Colorado Law School. Oh. So it's the only one that's not centered in the college of business.

What sort of initiatives are found on campus or off campus?

So one of the things that we are known for in our consortium of the 11 schools is our Ethics Week. So every fall, usually in October, we do an ethics week. Every day during that week we do something. So this past one, and this is kind of the template that we use, Monday we do an internal case competition for students. Tuesday through Thursday we have speakers, and then Friday we have something called a sandwich for your thoughts, which is a reflection activity where we give students a card and one side might say, what does ethics mean to me? Or one of the eight principles. 'And the other side is what did you like best about ethics week?' 'What would you like to see in future ethics weeks?' And when they give us a card, we give them a sandwich.

Is that in Kepner?

Yes, we have it in the foyer of Kepner.

And is that open to all students?

Yes, everything that we do is open to all students. Actually, we have had Sandwich for your Thoughts, events across campus. Um, first one was in the college of Natural Health Sciences. And then they had a West campus event with NHS, Humanities and Social Studies, the library. And so we had that in the Spring.

One thing about the consortium of the 11 schools is, twice a year we meet with the Dean and the campus leader, like me, of all the schools. And we just get together and we share ideas. We go around and we have a highlight report of what do we do, and we just share ideas. And so the university of Denver has been doing an ethics boot bootcamp for a while. And so a couple of years ago they invited me to go down and I went down and kind of saw what they were doing and we've modified it here. It's a Friday evening and Saturday event in Denver and we just do a Friday evening. Last year we started doing it with our required management course for juniors. This year we have a new freshman course and so we've moved it to that. So from five to nine get them together. We have a couple of speakers, a couple of activities, and we think by bringing it to the freshmen course, we get them early and we get them thinking about ethics early.

It takes a lot to get called students to come to an event. Other than it being part of the class, are there any incentives to going?

A lot of our faculty will do either extra credit or make it a requirement. I can't give extra credit for everything. I would be giving too much extra credit. And so what I do, it's kind of a menu approach because a lot of students can't come to everything because of work or other classes. So I just start off with a menu. For example, Ethics Week, here are three speakers that we're going to have. So, you can come to two of them and you'll get five points each and then we'll have other speakers throughout the semester. And so I just add those to a menu. And I think that's a good way of doing it. And if faculty are worried about too much extra credit, I'll give that as an example. So I set the limit on extra credit, but then I also make it variable for them to work into their schedule.

One of the secondary requirements or goals of the Daniels Fund is campus outreach. And so we have worked with a lot of areas across campus and one is the philosophy department and their Ethics Bowl. And so they've participated in other ethics bowls, but they've also hosted it here at UNC and we have funded that event for them and we enjoy doing things like that. We've also partnered with Gender Studies and brought in a world class speaker, Dr. Jackson Katz. And then we've also worked with the office of community engagement to bring in speakers. And so we do try to work across campus. We have what we call fellows, we've had them in the college of business since we started the program. And then a couple of years ago we have a university fellows program too. So we have faculty from each college who work on ethics programming within their college.

We also have funded students to go to West Point every fall for a national conference on ethics in America that West Point holds. We've usually had four or five students go and we have included non-business students as well as business students in that. And they come back very enthusiastic and really enjoy the event.

We also have student ambassadors who can earn a $500 scholarships by just helping us with events. We need people to help with registration, help with those extra credit signup sheets, put out signage, you know, those kinds of things. And so what we've done is we've developed this thing called up a program called a Student Ambassador Program and they work so many hours a semester, they get a small scholarship in return.

We also fund a student organization called the Student Center for the Public Trust. It is based out of Nashville, and it's an outreach of NASBA, which is the arm that oversees the CPA exam for accountants. And so when a few years ago, several years ago now, when the Enron scandal hit and Arthur Andersen's role in that, accounting was getting kind of a black eye. So NASBA created something called the Center for the Public Trust. And from that they decided to have a student organization. And so that is called the Student Center for the Public Trust. And so we have one of the chapters here on campus. And most of the Daniels fund ethics initiative consortium schools have a chapter. And so they bring in speakers, do community service events. We call it kind of the ethics club cause Students Center for the Public Trust is kind of mouthful and people don't really know what that means. But if you're looking for a club that emphasizes ethics, this would be the club for you.

We also have a program called Take a Professor to Lunch. So if you have an ethical issue that you're thinking about, or perhaps you have a part time job as a student and something's happening there, or just something was said in class and you didn't quite get it and you want more conversation about it, we will pay for you to take a professor lunch at one of the dining halls. And that program is available to students.

I'm really curious about that one, I'd love to do that. So what would I actually need to do?

There is a form online If you go to MCB website, mcb.unco.edu/ethics/. There is a form called Take a Professor to  Lunch or you can call me and I can get you hooked up with that.

Get us some swipes.


We do have a website that has some information and again, it is mcb.unco.edu/ethics/. You can always contact me, Sharon Clinebell, Monfort College of Business. We do have a couple of staff people that can help you as well, but look on the website for more information. We try to have our upcoming events there, as well as just information about the Daniels Fund and the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative.


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