St. Thomas receives $10 million to improve business ethics

St. Thomas
The University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.
MPR Photo/Art Hughes

The University of St. Thomas has received a $10 million gift to improve business ethics studies.

Philadelphia businessman Harry Halloran donated the money to be used within two divisions of the university's Opus School of Business.

Dean Maines, president of an ethics institute within the business school, said the endowed funds will help the school focus on its mission. He said the corporate scandals at Worldcom and Enron earlier this decade reveal the consequences of corrupt practices. "Those examples suggest that a failure to integrate ethics into decision and action processes at all levels of an organization really jeopardize the entire organization -- puts the entire organization at risk," Mains said.

The donation will also go toward a three-year effort to study and compile a comprehensive history of corporate responsibility.

David Rodbourne, vice president for the university's Center for Ethical Business Cultures, said the donation will help the center better focus on its mission, which includes helping organizations discover the difference in perception about whether the values of the organization guide its operations.

"Fifty-two percent of leaders would say yes. But only 31 percent of front line employees would say yes," Rodbourne said. "If you're a leader and you don't know that that gap exists in your organization, how are you going to make improvements and target those improvements in the right direction."

The donation will also fund a publication documenting the history of corporate responsibility.

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