Business school boosting ethics studies

CHAMPAIGN – The University of Illinois College of Business plans to beef up its ethics curriculum, thanks to two $4 million grants from the Deloitte Foundation and the U.S. District Court in Northern Illinois.

The college announced plans Thursday to establish a Center for Professional Responsibilities in Business and Society.

The center will incorporate "responsibility-based modules" into business courses, then work to expand those modules across campus and to other universities.

The center also plans to bring in speakers who will address issues of professional responsibility and accountability.

"We are grateful to judge Wayne Andersen of the U.S. District Court for his vision and confidence in the college in launching this initiative," said Avijit Ghosh, dean of the business college.

Ghosh also thanked Deloitte & Touche USA, which sponsors the not-for-profit Deloitte Foundation. Deloitte & Touche, which has auditing and consulting businesses, is a major employer of UI accounting, engineering and business administration graduates.

The federal court grant stems from penalties imposed in a Securities & Exchange Commission suit against five former officers of Waste Management Inc. The officers were accused of management fraud, namely inflating earnings between 1992 and 1997.

Waste Management's auditor at the time, Arthur Andersen, was accused of helping the company perpetrate the scheme and ended up paying a $7 million fine to settle an SEC suit.

Sharon Allen, chairman of the board of Deloitte & Touche, was on campus Thursday to announce the Deloitte grant and deliver a lecture on "Leadership, Integrity and the Changing Business Environment."

In a prepared statement, she alluded to "questions of professional integrity that businesses have faced in recent years" and said they serve as a reminder that ethical issues continually need to be addressed.

In comments to The News-Gazette before the lecture, Allen said she believes maintaining a healthy balance between life and work can also help ethical lapses from occurring.

"It really helps you make good decisions about work," she said, noting that she makes a commitment to being home on Friday nights for "date night" with her husband of 33 years.

Allen noted that Deloitte already has launched a multiyear campaign to raise $2 million for a 275-seat Deloitte Auditorium in the new College of Business building.

Groundbreaking for that building, at the southwest corner of Sixth Street and Gregory Drive, is scheduled for April 28.

Also bearing the Deloitte name will be an endowed position to which the director of the new center will be appointed.

The company will also lend its name to annual symposiums at the UI on professional responsibility.

The UI has nearly 650 alumni working at Deloitte, including 63 partners and 23 firm directors.

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