Auburn Leads the Way in Business Ethics

Auburn opened a second business building, Horton-Hardgrave Hall, on September 13. At the ribbon cutting are, from left, Dean Annette L. Ranft; SGA President Mary Margaret Turton; Provost Bill Hardgrave, one of the building’s namesakes; Trustee Raymond J. Harbert, namesake of the college; Trustee Jimmy Samford and Interim President Jay Gogue.

Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business has become the first in the nation to require its graduates to complete a business ethics class and pass an independently administered certification in ethical leadership.

The certification program, which includes six modules on topics such as ethical decision making and the role of leadership in managing and preventing conflicts, is conducted by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy’s Center for the Public Trust.

“The new requirements are designed to better prepare young professionals to handle the ethical dilemmas they will face in their careers,” the university said in announcing the new requirement.

Alfonzo Alexander, ethics and diversity officer for NASBA and president of the Center for the Public Trust, says Auburn is “the first university in the country to require its business school graduates to complete ethical leadership training and attain independent certification.”

“Ethical conduct has always been a key component of the accounting profession — in fact, it is a core competency for all business leaders,” said Alexander. “The development of this new curriculum and certification serves the growing need to educate our young professionals to meet the critical demand for ethical conduct in today’s challenging business environment.”

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Says O.C. Ferrell, who is Auburn’s James T. Pursell Sr. Eminent Scholar in Ethics: “Students need to understand their ethical responsibilities in an organizational culture and how to develop the skills necessary to motivate and manage those who report to them later in their careers.”

“Ethical conduct is an important component of an Auburn education,” Ferrell added, “and this initiative is the latest in an ongoing effort to equip our business students with the tools they need to be successful throughout their careers.”

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