Endowment Funds Ethics Series

In a politicized world, where cooperation between Democrats and Republicans is, to put it politely, unusual, the ideal of mutual bipartisan admiration would seem to be elusive if not impossible. Yet, on August 27, in the Illini Union, the Honorable Paul Simon and the Honorable Jim Edgar shared not only a platform, but praise and good will for each other's principles and accomplishments.

The sight of the retired Democratic senator and former Republican governor bantering and complimenting one another cast a special glow of goodwill over CBA's inaugural Business Ethics Conference. The conference was funded by Richard Leighton (B.S. Accountancy 1949) and his wife Grace, who have created a college endowment for this annual series. "Business Ethics, Government Policy, and the Media," this year's topic, featured keynote addresses by Simon (who has served on the faculty of Southern Illinois University since 1997) and Edgar (who recently joined the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs as a Distinguished Fellow), followed by a panel discussion on ethics. Around 400 members of the business and university communities gathered for the luncheon event, organized and hosted by John Kindt, professor of business administration, with the assistance of the offices of development and alumni affairs.
Paul Simon (left) and Jim Edgar share a handshake before sharing a platform at CBA's inaugural Business Ethics Conference.

Simon, a forty-three year veteran of local and national politics who retired as U.S. Senator from Illinois in 1997, focused his address on how the ethical attitudes of legislators have changed, both in the state and national capitols. He noted that, while the blatant influence-peddling that flourished in earlier political generations has all but vanished, in its place has arisen a new, subtler kind of corruption that reflects the steadily growing pressure — financial and otherwise — from corporate lobbies and special interest groups. He went on to discuss the implications of ethics in business, noting that "a business leader who has enough vision to realize business isn't going to thrive if the community and the country don't thrive — that business leader will do well with their company."

 He posed the rhetorical questions: "What kind of a world do I want? What am I willing to do to get that?" concluding: "That's what ethics ultimately is all about."

Jim Edgar retired from public life in 1999 after thirty years of service crowned by his two-term governorship of Illinois. He noted in his talk that it is "extremely important that there is trust — in politics and in business. . . . The laws since Watergate have not changed the public's attitude. The trust is not there." And yet, "There is more legal honesty in government today than when I started." For Edgar, the essence of ethics — and trust — is accountability. Being answerable to the people of the State of Illinois was an ideal for which he strove continually during his eight years in office (he was thirty-eighth governor of Illinois, 1991_99). "Public officials are going to have to recognize that they have to do short term things that are not very popular, but have long-term benefits. . . . What is called for is a commitment on the part of individuals to do what they believe is right."

"There is an arrogance in power," he observed, with startling candor. "If you're going to go up the ladder, make sure you have somebody with you who isn't always going to tell you what you want to hear." Acknowledging the popular suggestion that government be run more like business, Edgar drew a very interesting and acute distinction between the functions of each. "The bottom line in business is to make money," he said. "In government the bottom line is service. There are many things government can learn from business. But at the end of the day they serve two different functions."

The addresses by Simon and Edgar were followed by a panel discussion, in which members contributed perspectives on ethics and implications for doing business. Moderated by Earl Grinols, professor of economics, the panel was composed of: Richard Cline (LAS '57), chairman, Hussmann International, and former chairman and CEO, NICOR and Jewel Companies; Robert Fazzini, president, Busey Bank, Bloomington Loan Office; Steve Silver, partner, Arthur Andersen, Chicago; and William Murphy, associate chancellor for public affairs, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. 

Panelist Richard Cline (right) is thanked by Dean Thomas and conference organizer John Kindt (far left).

Two Commerce faculty members were recently appointed to named professorships in the college in recognition of their high academic achievement. Congratulations!

Jan K. Brueckner, professor of economics, has been named Investors in Business Education Distinguished Professor (IBE). A widely recognized scholar in the field of urban economics, Brueckner joined the Commerce faculty in 1976. He is currently researching issues in property taxation, impact fees, and Third-World urbanization, and he has recently garnered a great deal of attention for his ongoing studies on airline alliances. Brueckner holds a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford ('76) and an A.B. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley ('72). Since 1991 he has served as editor of the Journal of Urban Economics, and is also a member of the editorial boards for a range of academic journals, including Real Estate Economics, Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Journal of Public Economic Theory, and Journal of Housing Economics. He teaches courses in urban economics, microeconomics, and public economics.
Established in the early `80s, the Commerce IBE Distinguished Professorships have been created to reward faculty members engaged in outstanding business research and excellence in teaching. It is through these and other endowed chairs and professorships that CBA can attract and retain world-class faculty. Candidates for IBE Professorships are nominated by department heads and selected by the dean, based on scholarly and professional activities; course development, teaching, and instructional innovation; and leadership in academic, professional, and community affairs. Appointments are made for three years and carry a salary supplement, as well as funds for professional development. Michael Weisbach, who joined the finance faculty in August, also holds an IBE Distinguished Professorship, as well as Daniel Bernhardt, economics, and James Gentry, finance.
Gregory B. Northcraft, professor of business administration and labor and industrial relations, has been named Harry J. Gray Professor of Executive Leadership. A member of the Commerce and ILIR faculties since 1995, Northcraft holds doctoral and master's degrees in social psychology from Stanford University ('81), as well as a B.A. in experimental psychology and philosophy from Oxford University ('77) and an A.B. in psychology from Dartmouth ('75).
A well known researcher in organization behavior, he was recently named editor of the Academy of Management Journal, having held the post of associate editor for the journal since 1996. He was Executive MBA Teacher of the Year in 1997 and was presented the college's Executive and Professional Development Award in 1998 . He has won numerous research grants, including several awards from the National Science Foundation. He has also served on the faculty of the University of Arizona, and has taught at institutions throughout the world, including Chulalongkorn University, Melbourne University, Northwestern University, the University of National and World Economics in Bulgaria, Dartmouth College, Tel Aviv University, and Guangzhou Institute for Foreign Trade in China. His research interests include conflict management, managerial decision-making, and processes of collaboration, as well as employee motivation and job design, particularly in high-technology manufacturing settings. He teaches courses in management and organization behavior, behavioral aspects of decision-making, negotiation, and conflict management.

The Harry J. Gray Distinguished Professor of Executive Leadership Chair was established in 1986 and is housed in CBA's Department of Business Administration. The chair was created as a position for a research scholar of national standing in the field of management and organization behavior, who is expected to have extensive contacts with business and industry through research and consulting activities. Harry J. Gray, who rose from being a truck sales manager to the position of chairman, president and CEO of United Technologies over the course of an extraordinary career, holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in journalism, awarded in 1941 and 1947, respectively, by the University of Illinois. The university has gone on to present him with numerous honors, including the Alumni Association's Illini Achievement Award and Illini Comeback guest. In 1985 he was invited back to campus as the first Hyneman Fellow in the Department of Political Science. As well being a generous financial supporter of the college and the university, he has given graciously of his time and expertise, recently participating in the EMBA program's Management 2000 series. Gray is a member of the Laureate Circle of the Presidents Council, and is a Foundation member and a National Advocate for Campaign Illinois. He has been honored by numerous other organizations and holds almost a dozen corporate directorships. He also won the Silver Star and the Bronze Star, conferred by the United States Army for his heroic efforts under German fire during World War II.