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Business Ethics are Focus for CBA Students

The Business Ethics program at the UNL College of Business Administration is ranked as the third strongest program in the Big Ten conference by Businessweek. The program is integrated into over 90 percent of business classes at the college. Bringing outside speakers into the classroom to talk with students about business ethics practices is a big part of that integration.

Dr. Janice Lawrence, director of the Business Ethics program, wants to expose students to a broad range of viewpoints by bringing in speakers who touch on different aspects of contemporary business ethics issues.

“We want to include speakers from multiple viewpoints,” Lawrence explained. “In our fraud examination class we have a series of speakers who bring their expertise into the classroom, and discuss with students everything from white collar crime to identity theft. They share their experience with war stories about bank fraud identity theft. This gives the students the chance to learn what is happening currently in the profession.”

Tessa Bright is a graduating MPA student from Minneapolis, Minn., who has taken the fraud examination class. She received first-hand testimonials about the damage caused through violating a person’s code of ethics.

“Some of the speakers were actually individuals who had committed fraud and they talked about why they went against their own code of ethics and what happened to them as a result,” Bright said.

Bright, who also received her undergraduate degree in accounting from UNL, noted that in her field it is critical to be aware ethical issues.

“In accounting we cover material that addressing ethics because it’s such an important part of the subject matter,” Bright said. “And it is also discussed in classes that I’ve had beyond accounting such as management classes.”

Dr. Yaron Brook, president and board member of the Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship, visited CBA in November and spoke to students in management and economics classes, as well as at an informal luncheon forum for faculty and graduate students. Brook is a regular contributor to and is frequently interviewed on national television programs.

“Yaron discussed ethics from the viewpoint of Ann Rand, specifically addressing the topic ‘Is Capitalism Moral?’” Lawrence said. “He provided a view students may not have discussed before.”

Other speakers that visiting CBA this semester to talk about business ethics included Jason Evans, a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Professional Ethics Division, who explained how accounting ethics standards are maintained, and Perry Severson, from Pinnacle Bank, who talked to students regarding bank fraud.

These classroom speakers supplement the ethics day lectures that take place in a larger forum. These lectures bring individuals to campus of three types. One showcases people who have taken ethical stands with regard to business practices, another presents individuals who are willing to share their stories of misconduct and the third group  are those charged with regulating business ethics. This year’s events include the American Whistleblower Tour, which took place at the Lied Center this fall, and Diann Cattani’s lecture this spring which will coincide with the launch of the new CBA ethics code, written by and for CBA students. 

Bright pointed out that all of the Business Ethics program activities have been essential in helping her translate her college academic experience into a new job upon graduation. She will be starting in January at the Grant Thornton accounting firm in her home town of Minneapolis.

“I’ve passed the Certified Public Accountancy exam and the Certified Fraud Examiner exam, both of which have an ethical component,” Bright said. “Learning and abiding by professional ethical standards is an important part of our profession.”
Published: December 15, 2011