I read with interest Tuesday’s editorial urging the University to renew its commitment to ethics (Bringing ethics back, 03/31/2009). There’s no question that one of the responsibilities of higher education is to equip students to enter “the professional world prepared to handle the difficult ethical decisions they will inevitably face.”

As your editorial notes, business schools are being increasingly — and properly — questioned about how they address ethics. But I think your editorial fails to accurately capture the current state of affairs as far as the Ross School of Business is concerned when it says, “The Business School must mount a concerted effort to make the discussion of ethics a substantial part of its curriculum.” The piece implies that ethics training is not currently a substantial part of the Ross curriculum, when in fact it is.

We have received some impartial recognition on this score. The Aspen Institute’s Beyond Grey Pinstripes survey, which ranks MBA programs according to how well they integrate ethics — as well as socially and environmentally responsible business practices — into the curriculum, ranks Ross No. 2 in the world. The survey is a rigorous examination of our MBA curriculum and it judges us on both core classes and electives.

Nor do we limit our efforts only to curricular activities. All Business School students are required to sign a statement of community values, which addresses the responsibilities of students to one another and their academic community. And, in the past two years, we have expanded our co-curricular leadership development program from an event centered around orientation to a more robust set of activities that runs throughout the two-year MBA program with a substantial focus on ethics in real-life decision making. These activities, by the way, involve much more than “incorporating ethical situations into everyday lectures,” as your editorial recommends. They involve elaborate simulations that require participants to make hard decisions about financial, environmental, or social risk.

This is not to argue that we shouldn’t continue to think hard about how best to incorporate issues of ethics, leadership, and judgment into our work. We should, and we will. But it is to say that, at Ross and at other schools in the University, we are not starting from zero.

Robert J. Dolan
Dean, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

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