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Fostering an Ethical Culture: Q&A with Honor and Integrity Director Jennifer Eury

Jennifer Eury discusses her new role as the director of honor and integrity at Penn State’s Smeal College of Business, including her vision, strategic priorities, and how she interacts with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and corporate representatives.
March 20, 2014

Jennifer Eury discusses her new role as the director of honor and integrity at Penn State’s Smeal College of Business, including her vision, strategic priorities, and how she interacts with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and corporate representatives.

Q: You began your role as director of honor and integrity at the beginning of this semester. Can you describe how you see that role taking shape?

Jennifer Eury: My primary focus is to promote an ethical culture within the Smeal community—that’s the bottom line. I’m committed to identifying new ways to infuse our values of honor and integrity into what we do every day. That encompasses many areas, from orientation and training to communications and special programs for all members of the Smeal community.

I truly believe that promoting honor and integrity is a community-wide effort, and I want to involve as many of our community members in generating ideas and implementing initiatives as possible.

My position is on the aspirational side, thinking about how we can minimize academic integrity issues and promote professional integrity through educational outreach and fostering an ethical culture. Academic integrity issues are not processed by me. Violations are processed by faculty program directors, but I aim to partner with these directors to learn from their experience.

Q: What are some initiatives that are already happening as a result of your new role?

JE: As many of our community members already know, we have a biannual Honor Code signing to encourage students, faculty, and staff to affirm their commitment to the Smeal Honor Code. In addition, quarterly Integrity Insights messages are delivered to faculty, staff, and students to strengthen awareness of and commitment to our honor and integrity efforts. I’m also excited that Deloitte will join us on March 18 for our first Donuts and Dilemmas, an event that will provide students a forum to have candid conversations with company representatives about real ethical dilemmas in the professional workplace.

Q: Why is the idea of honor and integrity important? And why should students take this seriously?

JE: Trust and integrity are essential to the business workplace, and firms recognize the importance of hiring employees with integrity and a strong sense of ethical behavior. Our commitment to honor and integrity is a true differentiator with employers. Just as important, we want to train our students to consider intrinsic career success by seeking to work for companies whose values align with their own.

Q: How are you working to enhance discussions around ethics in the business classroom?

JE: Although we already formally educate our students in the area of business ethics, there are many opportunities to further enhance discussions about the kinds of complex ethical dilemmas that students will encounter in the workplace. I hope to serve as a resource to faculty interested in new ways to incorporate business ethics-related learning objectives, assignments, and activities in the classroom experience.

Q: Are there other people at Smeal and across the University who are involved with honor and integrity issues?

JE: Of course, I have many colleagues across the University who have roles related to academic integrity and ethics; for example, Penn State has an Office of Ethics and Compliance. The Rock Ethics Institute, a center within the College of the Liberal Arts, focuses on encouraging ethical awareness through education, research, and outreach. And Penn State Athletics also has an athletic integrity officer. I have reached out to create partnerships with key contacts in these offices so that we can share ideas and learn from each other.

I also urge all of our Smeal students to act with honor and integrity—that is really the best way to foster this kind of environment. Be a role model for others. Be honest in the classroom, and if you hear of something happening that just doesn’t seem right, please contact your professor, teaching assistant, or program office.

Here at Smeal, we’ve established an Honor and Integrity Committee, which includes representatives from faculty, staff, administration, alumni, and the student body, to identify and address challenges as well as assess and offer recommendations to enhance integrity and ethical behavior in our community. In addition, I work closely with Jeff Sharp, associate dean of undergraduate education, and Doug Thomas, faculty director in the Penn State Smeal MBA Program, who manage the academic integrity issues.

I truly believe that promoting honor and integrity is a community-wide effort, and I want to involve as many of our community members in generating ideas and implementing initiatives as possible.

Q: Do you see any opportunities for your efforts to extend outside the University to alumni and corporate partners?

JE: Absolutely! Our loyal and successful alumni base and our corporate recruiters are some of our greatest assets. We want to expand our pool of available speakers, workshop leaders, or company representatives to partner with the Donuts and Dilemmas sessions, so alumni or recruiters who have interests in any of these areas can reach out to me to discuss these engagement opportunities.

In addition, I am interested in learning more about how other organizations promote integrity and ethical behavior. Alumni can participate in monthly LinkedIn discussions about workplace ethics or offer introductions to ethics officers in their own organizations.

Q: How can students get more involved in promoting honor and integrity among their peers?

JE: There are several ways; as I said, promoting honor and integrity at Smeal is truly a community-wide effort, so I encourage students to reach out to me to get involved. I’m currently assembling a group of interested students who will join me to discuss ideas for promoting honor and integrity on a regular basis. Any students who are interested in participating in this or other initiatives can reach out to me at integrity@smeal.psu.edu.

I also urge all of our Smeal students to act with honor and integrity—that is really the best way to foster this kind of environment. Be a role model for others. Be honest in the classroom, and if you hear of something happening that just doesn’t seem right, please contact your professor, teaching assistant, or program office. I know speaking up about misconduct is difficult, but it really is important that we all hold one another accountable.

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Students, faculty, staff, alumni, and corporate representatives can connect with Eury at integrity@smeal.psu.edu to get involved with promoting and strengthening honor and integrity efforts at Smeal.

About Honor and Integrity at Smeal
Integrity and ethical behavior are fundamental to the Smeal College of Business culture. Commonly referred to as “honor and integrity,” these values underscore who we are and what we do as a leading business school community, both in and out of the classroom. The college's foundation of honor and integrity lies in the Honor Code, drafted in partnership with MBA students in 2006 and adopted by undergraduates in 2007. Honor and integrity are infused into courses across the Smeal curriculum, and the G. Albert Shoemaker Program in Business Ethics supports ethics lectures and related scholarly research. For more information on honor and integrity at Smeal, visit www.smeal.psu.edu/about/honor.

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