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At the Center

Capturing the lively discussions, presentations, and other events that make up the daily activities of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

  •  Santa Clara County Board President Shirakawa Subject of a Critical Audit

    Friday, Dec. 14, 2012 3:13 PM

    The Santa Clara County Finance Agency has determined that Board President George Shirakawa Jr. has been imprudent in his use of public funds.  According to the San Jose Mercury News:

    Since taking office in 2009, Shirakawa used his county credit card for 174 meals at local restaurants, later reporting he had lost most of the required itemized receipts. He also billed taxpayers for out-of-state casinos, golf fees and rental car upgrades -- in some cases reimbursing the costs months later, only after being questioned. 

    Shirakawa also allowed his staff to use county monies to make donation to his favorite charitable causes.  In an interview with the Mercury News, Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson commented:

    It's clearly improper for public officials to use public monies for charitable causes....  The channeling of public monies by a single public official outside the appropriation process becomes a backdoor way of funding the charities that either are the favorite of a public official, or are useful to the public official in their election efforts.

  •  The Legitimate Role of Whistleblowers in an Organization

    Monday, Dec. 10, 2012 4:31 PM

    With the advent of bounty awards for whistleblowers offered under the The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, some employees are now motivated to go outside their companies to blow the whistle on corporate wrong-doing.

    Henry "Hank" Shea, professor of law at St. Thomas University and former federal prosecutor, argues that this provision can serve as a wake-up call for companies in this video conversation with Ethics Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson.  Shea recommends that managers ask, "Are we doing everything possible to have our people come to us first?" Organizations, Shea says, should welcome the type of person who asks, "Why are we doing it this way? Is this the fairest way to serve our customers?"

  •  Government Ethics Resources

    Friday, Dec. 7, 2012 10:24 AM

     All of the Ethics Center's materials on government ethics have now been sorted into a new system of categories that makes it easier for visitors to our Web site to find articles, videos, and podcasts on these areas:

    General Topics in Government Ethics: Unavoidable ethical dilemmas, codes of ethics, and leadership

    Campaigns and Elections: Campaign finance, contribution irregularities, hit pieces, and attack ads

    Conflicts of Interest and Undue Influence: Lobbying, favoritism, financial and other interests

    Gifts and Bribes: Quid pro quo arrangements and political perks

    Transparency: Open meetings, sunshine laws, the Brown Act

    Professional Ethics for Public Officials: Civility, councilmanic interference, and the personal lives of public officials

    Budgeting as a Reflection of Values: Weighing public goods, pension reform, auditing, redevelopment

    Zoning: Marijuana dispensaries, religious institutions, big box retailers

    Government and Media: Relations with reporters, social media, leaking, whistleblowing

  •  Seasonal Flu: The Ethics of Staying at Home

    Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 10:57 AM

    A university student must decide whether to ignore his flu symptoms in order to take part in a group presentation.  Is it worse to let down his presentation partners or to expose others to his germs?  

    This case study was written by Sarah Ludwig, and SCU student and Honzel Fellow at the Ethics Center.  Honzel Fellowships focus on medical ethics and are supported by the Honzel Family Foundation.

  •  Post-Election Recovery: Blessed Are the Peacemakers

    Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012 11:51 AM

     In the wake of the recent contentious election, it's time for both sides to search for common ground.  So Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics, will argue at a program Dec. 13, 7:30 - 8:30 a.m., at the San Jose Airport Garden Hotel, sponsored by Catholic Professionals.  

    More Information

  •  Does Your School Have an Honor Code?

    Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012 1:05 PM

    Do honor codes improve the academic integrity of a college campus?  That's the question this week on The Big Q, an online dialog for undergraduates about the ethical issues in their everyday lives.

    The question is a focus of the Center's work on campus this year.  SCU senior Aven Satre-Meloy, a Hackworth Fellow at the Center, has been working with his fellow students to develop a possible honor code for Santa Clara University.

  •  Business Ethics Dilemmas

    Monday, Nov. 26, 2012 4:13 PM

    A group of SCU seniors, all Hackworth Business Ethics Fellows at the Center, are creating a set of business ethics cases based on the experiences of Santa Clara Alumni.  As they explain in a letter to alumns, " We are seeking these cases in order to help SCU students, alums, and others working in business here in Silicon Valley and beyond to be the most ethical business persons they can be and to build a culture of ethics one good decision at a time wherever they work."

    The cases will be featured on a new, dynamic website.  "With this website," the students write, "we want to create a moral community of persons readier to do the right thing and to encourage their colleagues to do the right thing, too."

    Cases will all be altered to protect the identities of the people involved.  The students are happy to interview alums at their convenience in order to prepare the cases. Such an interview would take from a half-hour to 45 minutes and cover three questions: What was the ethical dilemma at the root of the case? Could you describe both sides of the dilemma -- that is, the different values pulling at you as you dealt with the case? And how did you resolve the case?

    If you are interested in participating in this project, please contact the fellows at hackworthbizethics@gmail.com.

  •  Raising an Ethical Child

    Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012 10:00 AM

    Materials from a Character Education Workshop provide practical tools for meeting the challenges of successful parenting and offer strategies for fostering the moral development of children.  The presentation, by Character Education Director Steve Johnson, offered tiips for communicating values as well as how to teach the coping and cooperation skills required for ethical behavior.  A focus of the talk was how to raise ethical children in a technological age.

     

    Photo by Epsos.de used under a Creative Commons License

  •  Board Independence

    Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 4:05 PM

    Maintaining independence and avoiding conflicts of interest at the board level is a significant challenge, says Daniel Cooperman, Of Counsel with the Bingham McCutchen law firm. Cooperman served as senior vice president, general counsel and secretary of Apple Inc. and senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary of Oracle Corp. He is the immediate past President of the Association of General Counsels, served on the board of several software trade associations, is a director of emerging technology companies, and teaches at Stanford Law School.

    In this four-part video conversation with Kirk Hanson, executive director at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Cooperman details the duties and responsibilities of corporate board members to establish and protect their independence, and the importance of avoiding actual and perceived conflicts of interest. The two explore both the legal and ethical requirements of public board members in a complex and inter-related world.

  •  BOEP Hosts Sam Glasscock III

    Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012 2:58 PM

    Vice Chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery Sam Glasscock III spoke to the Center's Business and Organizational Ethics Partnership (BOEP) yesterday about the history and meaning of a chancery court and the kind of issues the court is currently hearing. 

    Other speakers at the BOEP's quarterly meeting included Joe Grundfest, former SEC commissioner and professor at Stanford Law School on "The Nexus of the Law and Ethics," and Bob Vanourek, former CEO of Sensormatic, on "Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations."

    Hank Shea, a former Department of Justice Attorney who brings white collar felons to universities across the country, gave a presentation with David Logan, a former CEO and public official whom Shea prosecuted for bank fraud.

    The BOEP meets quarterly to address emerging issues in business ethics.  Contact Jim Balassone for more information.