Lipscomb takes lead in ethics training, launches Dean Institute

On 10/6/2008

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Inaugural Event for Corporate Executives, Boards Will Be Virtual Town Hall Meeting: Creating Culture of Integrity in Business

Nashville, Tenn. – The College of Business at Lipscomb University announced today the formation of the Dean Institute for Corporate Governance and Integrity, a national forum that integrates best practices in governance with integrity and faith for public and private company executives, board members and other top-tier corporate leaders.

The Dean Institute is co-founded by Lipscomb University and Nashville law firm Bone McAllester Norton PLLC.  In development for the past year, the institute is funded by an endowment previously established at Lipscomb by Hilton and Sallie Dean.  Hilton Dean is a retired vice chairman of Ernst & Young, LLP, New York, and is currently chairman of the Lipscomb University Board of Trustees. 

Unlike other programs on corporate ethics and regulatory issues, Lipscomb’s Dean Institute will approach governance from a faith-based perspective and address the root issues at play, namely how character and integrity inform the decisions, actions and culture of corporations. The institute will examine the guiding principles and factors that inspire honesty and transparency, even when those qualities may have undesirable short-term consequences.

 “We developed the Institute for Corporate Governance and Integrity with the understanding that, beyond legal and governmental requirements, corporate leaders have a responsibility to their employees, shareholders, consumers and society as a whole to act honorably and justly,” said L. Randolph Lowry, President of Lipscomb University.  “At this seminal moment in American history, Lipscomb University is proud to take a leadership role in helping corporate executives and board members explore how they can build organizations of integrity while still ensuring strong business performance. We look forward to working regionally and nationally in this worthy endeavor.”

The inaugural event of the Dean Institute will be a national Virtual Town Hall Meeting to be held on the heels of the presidential election and in the wake of the recent economic crisis.  Titled “Beyond Compliance: Building a Culture of Integrity,” the meeting will bring together corporate leaders, professional advisors, scholars and public officials, in person and online, to discuss the need for integrity and moral purpose in boardroom decision-making.  Subsequent programming of the Dean Institute will include forums featuring leading experts on ethics and integrity in business, training in best practices for corporate executives and board members, and research studies on relevant issues. 

“Today’s economic climate has made many Americans distrust our corporate leaders.  However, we believe there is actually great will among executives to act with integrity despite the pressure of the bottom line,” said Turney Stevens, Dean of the College of Business and co-founder of DICGI. “The role of the Dean Institute is to provide these leaders with the tools necessary to build a culture of integrity in their workplaces.  Integrity cannot be regulated and honor cannot be enforced – they are qualities of a deeper nature, guided by principles and informed by faith.”

Stevens said the Dean Institute was born out of a desire to dig deeper into the underlying issues of liability, honesty, transparency and respect – issues that may come in conflict with the bottom line in the boardroom, but issues of paramount importance on a broader scale. Stevens, along with Charles Bone and Trace Blankenship of Bone McAllester Norton, were the architects of the Dean Institute after they recognized a void of programs geared at higher-ranking execs on deeper seated issues of personal integrity and corporate governance.  The mission of the institute is not merely informed by recent economic events, but also takes into account the broad spectrum of issues that face corporate executives and board members each day on the job.

“Time and again, we see that our clients are more profitable and more successful in the long run when leaders make decisions that are transparent and fair,” Blankenship said. “Consistent integrity in the corner office and the boardroom is always good business and a long-term value proposition.”