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Crisis in corporate ethics becomes a top priority for UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business
11 September 2002

By Ute Frey, Haas School of Business

Berkeley - Because of the widening ethics scandals that have rocked corporate America over the past year, the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, is launching a major expansion of its already significant activities in the area of corporate social responsibility and business ethics, according to Tom Campbell, the Haas School's new dean. Campbell said the effort would be a top priority for the nation's oldest public business school.

"The country and the world are demanding to know if recent lapses in business ethics are symptomatic of a system-wide failure," said Campbell, who began his job as dean two weeks ago. "Our great universities and business schools must play a major role in answering this question and leading the effort to discover ways to correct the problems."

The newly-enhanced effort, called the Socially Responsible Business Leadership Initiative, is being supported by gifts from actor/philanthropist Paul Newman and Haas School alumnus Michael Homer, with other major gifts to be announced. The program's new executive director is Kellie McElhaney, who was hired from the University of Michigan Business School where she was managing director of the Corporate Environmental Management Program.

McElhaney, one of the nation's leading thinkers and practitioners in corporate social responsibility, also is the John C. Whitehead Fellow in Corporate Responsibility at the Haas School.

The new initiative will coordinate the Haas School's teaching, research and public service activities in the areas of corporate social responsibility, ethics, social entrepreneurship, philanthropy and environmental management.

"The Haas School's long tradition of exploring the impact of business on society provides tremendous credibility and momentum to this new initiative," Campbell added.

Among the planned and ongoing activities for the Socially Responsible Business Leadership Initiative are:

* A planned series of visits by Haas School students to correctional facilities to allow them to hear how white-collar criminals fell short and to impress upon students the consequences of doing so.

* A new, required MBA course, "Global Business Citizenship," begun this fall that teaches ethics, corporate responsibility and environmental management.

* A future executive education course, "Natural Capitalism," developed in collaboration with the Rocky Mountain Institute.

* An expanded lecture series in ethics that will feature speakers such as Enron whistle-blower Sherron Watkins.

* Innovative elective courses, including a new student-initiated MBA course in socially responsible leadership introduced last week by Levi Strauss & Co. Chairman Robert Haas and by Campbell, the Haas School's dean.

* The National Social Venture Competition, the first national business plan competition of its type to reward businesses that generate both financial return on investment and social return on investment. The competition, now in its fourth year, was started by Haas School MBA students and now encompasses a large-scale partnership with Columbia University and The Goldman-Sachs Foundation.

* New electives in corporate social responsibility, including one taught by McElhaney in which students will work with companies on projects in corporate social responsibility

* The development of an advisory board for the initiative that would be comprised of practitioners and corporate social responsibility leaders in the business world.

The Haas School's commitment to exploring the relationship of business and society began at the founding of the school in 1898 with a course examining the ethical issues of commerce. Beginning in the late 1950s, Earl F. Cheit, who today is dean emeritus of the Haas School, laid a scholarly foundation for the study of the impact of business on society through his research and teaching and by organizing at UC Berkeley the first national symposium on this subject.

Paul Newman's gift will create the Whitehead Distinguished Fellowship Fund in honor of John Whitehead, former U.S. deputy secretary of state and former co-chairman of Goldman, Sachs & Co.. Whitehead and Newman are known as pioneers in the advancement of corporate social responsibility issues. Newman inaugurated the Haas School's Forum in Corporate Philanthropy in September 2000.

Newman is internationally renowned for his leading roles in classic Hollywood films and more recently for giving away more than $100 million in profits from his famous line of widely distributed food products. Newman launched his own business - Newman's Own, Inc. - in 1982. From the beginning, he decided to give away all after-tax profits from the sale of the products to educational and charitable organizations in the United States and in countries where the products are sold. Michael Homer, who also donated to the effort, received his undergraduate business degree at UC Berkeley in 1981 and is chairman and CEO of Kontiki (formerly known as Zodiac Networks), a software management company with offices in San Francisco and Sunnyvale, Calif. He also invests in and advises young Silicon Valley companies including Loudcloud, Tellme Networks, Palm and TiVo and heads his family's philanthropic foundation.

McElhaney, the program's executive director, will oversee the expansion of socially responsible business offerings throughout the Haas School curriculum and teach courses in corporate social responsibility that she developed at Michigan. One course will allow students to work on projects with executives at Hewlett-Packard, combining winning business practices with corporate social responsibility. She will also guide student activities in this field and expand the Haas School's collaborations with UC Berkeley departments and other institutions to actively promote awareness of socially responsible business issues.

McElhaney taught from 1993 until 2002 at the University of Michigan Business School, where she served as managing director of the Corporate Environmental Management Program and developed new courses covering the theory and practice of corporate responsibility. She earned her PhD in higher education with a business cognate at the University of Michigan, her MA in organization behavior at Ohio University in Athens, and her BA in political science and English at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.