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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.

  •  The Center Welcome James O'Toole

    Tuesday, Sep. 3, 2013 3:55 PM


    The Center is pleased to welcome James O'Toole, as senior fellow in business ethics. O'Toole will work with the Center's Business and Organizational Ethics Partnership and on projects related to leadership. Previously he was the Daniels Distinguished Professor of Business Ethics at the University of Denver's Daniels College of Business. While at the University of Southern California's business school for two decades, he held the University Associates' Chair of Management, served as Executive Director of the Leadership Institute, and was editor of New Management magazine. From 1994-97 O'Toole was Executive Vice President of the Aspen Institute, and later, Mortimer J. Adler Senior Fellow at the Institute. He also has served as Chair of the Booz/Allen/Hamilton Strategic Leadership Center.

    Among O'Toole's sixteen books, Vanguard Management was named "one of the best business and economics books of 1985" by the editors of Business Week. His latest book is Good Business (editor, with Don Mayer, 2010). He currently writes a bi-weekly blog for Strategy+Business magazine.

    O'Toole received his doctorate in Social Anthropology from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

  •  Nonprofits and Ethics Panel Aligns Mission, Morals, and Money

    Friday, Aug. 30, 2013 10:36 AM

    "Since they accept charitable gifts, nonprofits are increasingly in the spotlight and face greater scrutiny and accountability then ever before," agreed the presenters during the "Ethical Dilemmas and Nonprofits" panel held on August 20, and sponsored by The Markkula Ethics Center, AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals-Silicon Valley), and Focus Bank.

    Moderator Ervie Smith, representing Focus Business Bank, led panelists through a lively and informative series of ethical questions and scenarios commonly facing nonprofit communities, well received by the audience of 80 association leaders. Featured panelists were: Brian Adams, Bellarmine College Prep Christian Service Program; Judith Kleinberg, Knight Foundation; and Peter Hero, The Hero Group.

    One of the ethical scenarios involved the issue of "giving for a gift," a real life case study in which  a parent alumnus offers a donation to a school in return for his child's admission. "Any strings attached to a gift is a major red flag. In this scenario, simply do not accept the gift."

    Another scenario involved "interpretive" staff trips and expenses. For example, your job requires matching expense reports with receipts, and you find that while some staff were cautious and thrifty spenders, others took cabs, enjoyed room service, and helped themselves to the allure of the hotel "mini bar. "

    "First, there must be clear and  ironclad rules regarding business travel expenses detailed in the employee handbook, so that there is one standard for all staff," the panelists commented. "Second, confront those who did the gratuitous spending, offer them opportunity to explain, but make them accountable. They need to know there will be consequences to this behavior."

    Other highlights included:

    • Examples of ethical issues include: conflicts of interest, plagiarism, invasion of privacy, bias, and deceit or lack of transparency
    • Donors want nonprofits to succeed, and organizations should be transparent if they're facing financial stresses that challenge a grant's purpose
    • If a nonprofit is dishonest or fails to be transparent, its reputation is jeopardized
    • There is great importance in the donor-institution's all about relationships
    • Fundraising staff need to understand the mission of the organization and ultimately protect the brand
  •  Business and Organizational Ethics Partnership Highlights

    Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013 10:26 AM


    Pictured in photo are panelists from the ethics of working from home session: Kristin Major, Hewlett-Packard, Patty Woolcock, California Strategic Human Resrouce Partnership, Laura Maechtlen, Seyfarth Shaw LLP, and Eric Severson, Gap, Inc.

    The Ethics Center presented its quarterly "Business and Organizational Ethics Partnership" (BOEP) Roundtable on Thursday, August 22, providing attendees with plenty of food for thought on prominent issues in business ethics.

    After greetings and introductions by Jim Balassone, the Center's Executive-in-Residence, the morning agenda included the following program highlights: thought-provoking ethical case studies, presented by Jim O'Toole, Senior Fellow in Business Ethics; "Multitasking: The Short and Long-term Effects on Ethics and Business," presented by Clifford Nass, Professor of Communications, Stanford University; and "Economic, Ethical, and Legal Attributes of Working from Home," presented by Kristin Major, VP and Deputy GC, Hewlett-Packard, Eric Severson, SVP, HR, The Gap, and Laura Macctlen,  Sayfarth Shaw, moderated by Patty Woolcock, Executive Director, CSHRP.  Afternoon sessions included "You Can Make Money Without Doing Evil," presented by Andy Hinton, Ethics and Compliance Officer, Google; and "Transforming an Organization's Ethical Culture," presented by Greg Coplans, EVP Corporate Affairs,
    Hitachi Data Systems.

    Takeaways and soundbytes from two of the sessions, the ethical effects on multitasking and working from home, respectively, include:

    *Today, the average college student uses 3 forms of media at once.
    *For the past 20 years, studies have shown that multitasking impedes performance. focus, memory,  problem-solving ability, and social interaction
    *The 20-minute rule - meaning focusing on one task for at least that time, can help control the task management challenge.
    *The Gap Inc. makes for an interesting case study in ROWE (results-oriented work environment), which showed increased productivity, communication, and quality of work, after implementation.
    *Some of the challenges involved with allowing employees to work at home or from other locations, include increased and more formalized communications on work-related issues, such as email response time and equipment needs,
    and trained and active managers who can effectily oversee these scenarios.
    *In the near future, working from home will become increasingly commonplace, particularly with the continuing evolution  and sophistication of technology and communications.


  •  Solar Decathlon Kick-Off Event Shines

    Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 3:09 PM

                                                   The Solar Decathlon Team is
                                                   Ready for the Competition!

    Markkula Center for Applied Ethics Environmental Ethics Fellows Melissa Giorgi (top) and Allie Sibole

    The Solar Decathlon "Send Off" event held on Monday, August 19, was a great success, as Santa Clara University students involved in the construction of "Radiant House" gave tours of their nearly completed net-zero home, to staff, colleagues, press, and fellow students. The project, part of the U.S. Dept. of Energy's national Solar Decathlon Competition, has become one of the hallmark's of Santa Clara University's sustainability programs, and participation in recent years has produced impressive results, including placements in the top winner's group. Unique features of this year's home include innovative uses of bamboo, and the first-time use of Sunplanter, which eliminates separate solar racking and roof structure systems by combining them into one innovative technology. In two weeks, the home will be broken down into three sections and transported to The Great Park in Irvine, Orange County, CA, for the final competition.

    Two Markkula Center Environmental Ethics Fellows, Allie Sibole and Melissa Giorgi, played important roles in the evolution of the Solar Decathlon project this year. Sibole wrote a report, "Material Evaluation Sheets: Ethical Considerations for Selecting Building Materials," which explores the ethical implications of various building materials. In "The Sun and the City: Making Solar Power More Accessible," Melissa Giorgi explores making solar installations more affordable for low-income populations.

    New! SCU would love for Bill Nye to come check out Radiant House, and created a clever video explaining the reasons why...go team!

  •  Ethics and Law in Public Service

    Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 1:36 PM
    L-R: Joan Cassman, partner, Hanson Bridgett; JoAnne Speers, executive director, Institute for Local Government

    Not every legal action a government official may take is also ethical. Law provides a floor of minimum standards, but public officials who are concerned with ethics may want to go beyond what is simply legal when they consider how to act in the public interest.

    The interaction of law and ethics was explored at the August 2013 meeting of the Center's Public Sector Roundtable by panelists Joan Cassman, partner with Hanson Bridgett L.L.P. in San Francisco, and JoAnne Speers, executive director of the Institute for Local Government in Sacramento.

    Meeting Summary

  •  Pope Francis, Reform in the Church, and Organizational Ethics

    Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013 4:33 PM

    A talk highlighting the new Pope, Reform in the Church, and Organizational Ethics. Where have we been, where are we, and where do we go from here? Father Thomas Reese is Senior Analyst, National Catholic Reporter, and Visiting Scholar, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Formerly the editor of America magazine, Reese is the author of a trilogy examining Catholic Church organization and politics on the local, national, and international levels: "Archbishop: Inside the Power Structure of the American Catholic Church" (Harper & Row, 1989), "A Flock of Shepherds: The National Conference of Catholic Bishops" (Sheed & Ward , 1992), and "Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church "(Harvard University Press, 1997). He is a frequent commentator for national news outlets such as NPR, and major news networks.

    Sponsor: Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

    Date: Thursday September 12, 2013

    Location: The Wiegand Cente, Arts & Sciences Building

    You're Invited to Tweet! Tweet with us on this topic before, during, and after the event at: #ethicsreese.
    First, following us on Twitter at @mcaenews.

  •  NSA Revelations

    Monday, Aug. 12, 2013 11:14 AM

     In an article for USA Today, Internet Ethics Program Director Irina Raicu reflects on NSA surveillance from the point of view of someone who grew up in Communist Romania, where everyone assumed that the government was spying on individuals.  She writes:

    It goes without saying that our government is nothing like the Romanian or Cuban governments that set their secret services on their own citizens. And many of us are perfectly willing to countenance data mining by the NSA, on the theory that its purported benefits for national security provide the greatest good for the greatest number. In this context, though, we might remember the words of Supreme Court Justice Brandeis, who famously wrote, "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born of freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding."

  •  Ethical Dilemmas of Non-Profits: It May Be Legal, But...August 20 - 11:45-1:30

    Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 5:01 PM

    "Ethical Dilemmas of Non-Profits. It May Be Legal, But..."
    August 20, 2013 -- 11:45-1:30 pm


    Event guest speakers, clockwise from left: Moderator Ervie Smith, Focus Business Bank, and Panelists Brian Adams, Bellarmine College Prep, Judith Kleinberg, The Knight Foundation, and Peter Hero, The Hero Group.

    Join distinguished panelists Peter Hero, The Hero Group, Brian Adams, Bellarmine College Prep, Judith Kleinberg, The Knight Foundation, and moderator Ervie Smith, Focus Business Bank, as they discuss 21st century ethical issues that can affect fundraising and your organization's reputation. Come prepared with your own questions for discussion, and become part of this interactive panel.



    *Presented by AFP Silicon Valley Chapter, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, and Focus Business Bank

    *Buffet Luncheon and Parking Fee included.

    *Parking passes will be available at the Santa Clara University Main Kiosk, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA.

    *Price: $30 preregistered, $40 on-site

    Lucas Hall, Forbes Family Conference Center

  •  A New Perspective on the Trayvon Martin Case

    Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 2:53 PM

     Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Chris Boscia and SCU Professor of Law Margaret Russell offered fresh perspectives on the Trayvon Martin case and the acquittal of shooter George Zimmerman at a panel discussion yesterday, sponsored by the Ethics Center and the University's Office of Diversity and Inclusion.  (Listen to the podcast)

    Boscia compared Florida gun laws and "stand your ground" legislation to similar California statutes, concluding that Zimmerman would likely never have been permitted to carry a concealed weapon in California, which might have averted the tragedy.  Russell compared the case to the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, another innocent young black man whose killers were acquitted.  Both speakers offered suggestions for social and legal changes that might prevent such tragedies in the future.

  •  Meet Patrick Coutermarsh, First Fellow in Applied Ethics

    Thursday, Jul. 25, 2013 2:13 PM

    The Center is pleased to welcome Patrick Coutermarsh as its first Fellow in Applied Ethics. He will work under the direction of Executive Director Kirk Hanson, primarily on researching and writing for the Center's new interactive webpage project. He will also provide research and assistance in case writing and commentary on ethical dilemmas in business ethics, government ethics, and other fields.

    A recent graduate of Santa Clara University, Patrick worked as a Hackworth Fellow during his Senior year, and created and lead SCU's first Ethics Bowl team in the California Regional competition. His other hobbies include Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (Blue Belt), and participating in triathlons and ultra-marathons.

    Patrick states:"I am honored to be a part of the team at the Center, and am excited to get started!'