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LEAD WITH INTEGRITY: A Perspective on the Clash of Ethics & Academic Entry

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Ethics Matters

March/April 2019

The recent college-entry scandal implicating dozens of affluent parents, top school recruiters and coaches, and educational testing proctors shines a light on the unfortunate direction ethics has taken in this country. Multimillions of dollars were illegally paid by and to individuals who, in many instances, are considered role models – making the academic scandal even more of a concern.

In each case portrayed in the media, the parent(s) who were allegedly involved can be considered a significant success in their fields, ranging from CEO-level businessmen and women to nationally recognized actors. Also, the coaches allegedly involved are from some of the most prestigious colleges and sports programs in the country, if not the world.

Some have portrayed the scandal as parents, albeit well-off ones, simply trying to do what is best for their children. In reality, what the whole sordid experience really illustrates is the ‘succeed at any cost’ ethical mentality, which has prevailed all too often, in too many sectors of our lives, and in the lives of our children.

At the end of the day, much will be said and done, and punishment will likely be meted out to those who acted unethically. Unfortunately, the key underlying issues will remain. Where will we find the role models to help guide our future business and political leaders? How will we show that ‘succeed at any cost’ is not really succeeding?

Let’s not mince words – in the instance of the academic entry scandal, the alleged participants knew they were acting unethically. Some were even wiretapped, confirming their involvement. Because many students work hard to achieve academic success, we should not let this academic scandal taint the many, hardworking, ethical and sincere students who rightfully earned their way into college the honest way.

Through student chapters at more than 40 colleges around the country, the the
NASBA Center for the Public Trust (CPT) helps students understand that ethical leadership is sustainable leadership. By embracing and celebrating best ethical business practices and individuals who personify those practices, students find actual, ethical role models they can emulate. The CPT is committed to making a difference for students, our future leaders.

Joseph P. Petito
Retired Principal – Public Policy,
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

Alfonzo D. Alexander
President, NASBA Center for the Public Trust
Chief Ethics and Diversity Officer, NASBA