UNH Whittemore School of Business and Economics

Ethics Are at the Heart of UNH Business School Curriculum

By Janet Lathrop
UNH News Bureau

August 27, 2002

DURHAM, N.H. -- Ethics and the study of proper business practices are at the heart the University of New Hampshire's Whittemore School of Business and Economics' curriculum, but recent misconduct by a few corporate executives means that students will have more timely, specific examples than usual to discuss in class.

Andrew Lietz, managing director, Rye Capital Management, LLC, a USNH trustee and member of the Whittemore School Advisory Board, believes that wrongdoing and misconduct still are the exception rather than the rule in corporate America. "People don't wake up in the morning and think, 'I'm going to do a lousy job today'," he says.

Instead, Lietz believes today's crisis in business leadership is due to some CEOs' inability to overcome human weakness -- greed, pride, or fear of revealing a mistake. But good leaders are made, not born, he believes, and all business students can aspire to effective and ethical leadership. "Learning the skills of leadership does not necessarily come from formal education, although I have great hope that this university will develop fine leaders for business and for other areas," Lietz says. "Ethical leadership is the product of a sound education, of practice in the real business environment, and of mentoring."

The Whittemore School aims to provide excellence in all three areas, Dean Steve Bolander says. "Over the past two years the Whittemore School faculty have accomplished major curriculum changes. Leadership, ethics and good decision-making have been an integral part of those changes. We believe that our programs, based upon sound and ethical business practices, must play a critical role in developing future business leaders," he says.

For example, ethical business behavior is a key element in the course, "Business, Government and Society," taught by Allen Kaufman, professor of management, and in several of the modules in the "Methodology and the Economics of Science" course led by Associate Dean James Wible. In "Ethics and Professional Practices" led by John Freear, professor of accounting and finance, students already have debated ethical issues raised by the fall of Enron and Arthur Andersen.

Corporate social responsibility and ethics are discussed at length in "Introduction to Business," a class taken by all first-year students. Each semester a guest speaker focuses his or her lecture on the topic, as well. Rita Weathersby, professor of management and author of several articles on the interface of moral values, spirituality and management, addresses the topic in her classes.

Ethics in finance, personnel/human relations and other areas is central to student discussion led by Udo Schlentrich, professor of hospitality management. Carl Lindblade, an instructor of hotel operations, notes that "we weave these concepts into our study of the practical, real world of hotel operations."

Craig Wood, professor of decision sciences, points out that courses he teaches always include discussion of various ethical traps and dilemmas that business leaders can expect to face. "I'd be surprised if ethics isn't dealt with in virtually all of the business courses at the Whittemore School, to some degree," Wood says.

Marketing Department Chair Jonathan Gutman adds, "We certainly cover ethics in a variety of marketing classes. We view it as a topic of utmost importance to all students, whether they are continuing a business career or embarking on a new one."

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