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Monday, September 21, 2009

Maverick PR hosts ethics advocacy event

University and other Omaha-area professionals gathered to discuss ethical behavior with more than a dozen students at the Thompson Alumni Center's Centennial Hall on Sept. 21.

Professionals Scott Darling (far left) and Kevin Langin (left) gather their materials as students prepare for their small-group discussion. (Andrea Ciurej/UNO)

The event titled "Ethics &;\ Bad Behavior: It's All About Choices" was hosted by Maverick PR, the University of Nebraska at Omaha chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America.

 Maverick PR hosted the Ethics Advocacy Event with the teamwork of members Andrea Ciurej, Shannon Stawniak, Stephanie Bonnett, lecturer Karen Weber and Jessica Legg (left to right). (Photo by: Erin Redemske)

Students were divided into small groups and assigned an ethical case study to analyze with two local professionals.

Professionals include:
Gail Baker, dean of the College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media
Allen Cooper, vice president of internal audit, ConAgra Foods
Scott Darling, former vice president of communication, Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society
Susan Eustice, president of PRSA Nebraska and public relations director, The Salvation Army
Kent Grisham, director of corporate affairs, Kiewit Corporation
Jim Hegarty, president and CEO, Better Business Bureau
Eileen Kenney, ethics compliance officer and Web content manager, Union Pacific
Kevin Langin, public relations director, First National Bank
Teresa Paulsen, vice president of corporate communications, ConAgra Foods
Michelle Perone, Career Center director, UNO
Louis Pol, dean of the College of Business Administration
Erin Redemske, public affairs specialist, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City-Omaha branch
Sarah Waldman, vice president of ethical practices, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska
Sherrie Wilson, associate professor, UNO School of Communication.

Students and professionals had the opportunity to analyze ethical scenarios, such as corporate blogging, employee privacy and academic honesty, in small groups. The results of each discussion were shared in a large-group discussion toward the end of the event.

Dean Louis Pol (left) reviews UNO's Student Code of Conduct with another student before their small-group discussion.
 (Andrea Ciurej/UNO)

Darling facilitated the large-group discussion and began with an overall definiton of ethics.

"What I say when I think of ethics is, "What is good, right and proper?" Darling said.
Professionals from larger corporations mentioned the potential difficulties involved when hiring and firing employees.

"It comes down to facts and circumstances," Cooper said.

Grisham addressed the hardships of knowing when to draw the line.

"You have to understand everything that is at stake," he said.

Hegarty discussed the difficulities of working for a smaller, more family-like organization.

"You develop these deep relationships...but the right decision must be made," he said. "They need to be subjected to a litmus test."

Professionals Jim Hegarty (top) and Kent Grisham (bottom right) engage in conversation before the Ethics Advocacy Event.
 (Andrea Ciurej/UNO)

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