The Wisconsin Foundation for Independent Colleges (WFIC) has received a $25,000 challenge grant to create a business ethics program at 20 private colleges throughout the state.
The Milwaukee-based WFIC received the grant from the James S. Kemper Foundation. If matching donations can be raised, the WFIC intends to use the grant to launch the College Community Partnerships for Business Ethics.
The goals of the program will be:
(1) To unite the college and corporate communities to encourage a resurgence of ethical practices in business.
(2) To create a national higher education model for the promotion of good business practices.
Through the program, students and faculty from Wisconsin’s private colleges will be awarded grants to develop and implement projects that will better educate young business leaders, inspire ethical leadership, enrich ethical knowledge and promote ethical collaboration.
The program will provide a framework for cooperative work toward ethical business models and share best practices.
The WFIC plans to cap off the first year of the program with a Business Ethics Forum. The James S. Kemper Foundation and the other partners that sign up with the project will help select an expert to serve as the keynote speaker of the event.
"The forum will be open to the college and business communities. The forum is a splendid sponsorship opportunity for corporate underwriters wishing to heighten their visibility in the state or region," said David Wolfson, WFIC vice president.
"Colleges and partners can share best practices, joining the abilities and resources of all the independent colleges towards a common goal: solid business integrity. With a broad partnership, the independent colleges can play a pivotal role in improving business ethics," Wolfson said.
Wolfson said the new program arose after WFIC conducted a survey of business deans from Wisconsin’s private colleges. In the survey, the deans expressed strong desires and a willingness to develop and expand the emphasis on business ethics.
In explaining the need for the business ethics program, Wolfson cited a quote from former Enron Corp. chief executive officer Jeffrey Skilling: "When the Enron Corp. works on a project, customers have nothing to worry about. They know that it’s clean, absolutely clean, because Enron’s involved. That’s the way we do business."
Of course, that quote came before Enron filed for bankruptcy and a corporate scandal forced Skilling from his job.
Companies and other organizations interested in learning more about the program or contributing to the initiative can contact Wolfson at (414) 273-5980, ext. 15.
June 11, 2004 Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI