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Auto Expert Challenges Students to Tell Truth at State Farm Ethics Lecture Series

Jason Vines, automotive public relations expert, spoke to a crowd of over 2,000 College of Business Administration students at the State Farm Ethics Lecture Series delivered at the Lied Center for Performing Arts on Wednesday, September 16. His talk was titled, “Why Do We Have Such a Hard Time Telling the Truth?”

Vines believes it is important to let college students know the value of ethical behavior so they know how to react when an inevitable crisis arises in their own business career.

“Organizations that are honest survive and those that aren’t die,” said Vines. “If students think they aren’t going to be involved in a crisis, they’re failing the first test. A crisis will come up eventually and the best way to get ready for it is to get everyone in your organization on the same page for what you are going to do in a crisis.”

Jason Vines at the Lied Center
Jason Vines at the Lied Center
A week after being hired to lead public relations at Ford Motor Company in the early 2000’s, Vines became involved in a crisis himself. Tire failures on the company’s Explorer vehicles were deemed to be faulty, and ultimately caused 240 deaths and over 3,000 catastrophic injuries.

“We were led by our guiding principles in that situation and those principles went all the way from the top management to the shop floor. Even though it cost our company billions of dollars, we made sure we put our customers first. You never put legal or financial implications ahead of your principles or customers. The number one guiding principle has to be to protect the customer. You also have to communicate effectively with your employees because they are your ambassadors to the world.”

Getting the message of ethical behavior across to young people is important to Vines.

“We have to get to young people early to teach them the importance of ethics. We are always taught as kids to tell the truth and don’t lie, but it often gets lost with all of the social media when you’re never quite sure if what you’re getting is the truth.”

Vines, Plowman and Herridge
Vines, Plowman and Herridge
The ethics event was introduced in part by Todd Herridge, auto claims section manager at State Farm Insurance, who introduced both Vines and Donde Plowman, James Jr. and Susan Stuart Dean of the College of Business Administration. Herridge recognized the importance of the relationship between State Farm and CBA in continuing to emphasize ethics in the classroom and the business world.

The CBA Student Ethics Board began the program by reiterating the underlying support for ethics principles valued by students and endorsed electronically by over 4,000 business students who have signed their name to the online ethics scroll to date. Students can sign their name by visiting

Earlier in the day Vines also had lunch and spoke with business students at the Nebraska Union to discuss details of the case study regarding his experiences with the Ford Explorer crisis.

Facebook Photo Album of State Farm Ethics Lecture Series
Published: September 17, 2015