Archive for Sunday, October 31, 2004

Ethics expert, local panelists to show city why character counts

October 31, 2004


The United States has an ethics problem.

The evidence is in television programming, sports scandals, business fraud -- even the classroom, said Michael Josephson, the founder of a character education program who will speak Nov. 8 in Lawrence.

"We have a culture of cheating," Josephson said, "a gaping hole in our moral ozone."

The Lawrence Journal-World, Sunflower Broadband and World Online are bringing Josephson to the city for a pair of programs intended to raise the level of discourse about ethics, honesty and character.

Journal-World editor Dolph C. Simons Jr. said he had known of Josephson and his "Character Counts!" education program for years and was excited at the opportunity to bring him to Lawrence.

"The idea is to get people thinking more about ethics," Simons said. "I just think it's a good thing for Lawrence. I'm very enthused about it."

During his visit, Josephson will lead ethics discussions with two panels. Panelists include Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Kansas University men's basketball coach Bill Self and KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway.

Josephson is founder and president of the Los Angeles-based Josephson Institute of Ethics and an award-winning radio commentator, author and ethics consultant. He founded the education program "Character Counts!"

In a telephone interview last week, Josephson lamented what he called an "ongoing degradation" of integrity in the United States, with problems like cheating and disrespect growing more common.

"'You're fired!' is a phrase -- who in their right mind would ever terminate someone like that?" Josephson said, referring to a catchphrase from the popular television series "The Apprentice." "If you compare any decade to the last, it's worse. We're so coarsened."

He said he didn't know exactly when the downward slide began but said it had been noticeable since the early 1980s.

Michael Josephson, founder and president of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the Character Counts! coalition, will speak Nov. 8 in Lawrence. A column by Josephson will appear each day in the Journal-World until his visit. Today's column deals with lying.

And his evidence is more than anecdotal.

According to a new national survey of high school students conducted by the Josephson Institute, 62 percent admitted cheating on exams in the past 12 months, 27 percent stole something from a store during that period and 40 percent admit they "sometimes lie to save money."

Nearly a third didn't even tell the truth on the integrity survey; 29 percent of the students polled admitted they lied in their answers to one or two of the more than 60 questions.

Michael Josephson will have two sessions Nov. 8 in Lawrence:Noon session: 11:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., Lawrence HolidomePanelists:¢ Gov. Kathleen Sebelius¢ Douglas County Commissioner Bob Johnson¢ Chief Judge Deanell Tacha, 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals¢ Gene Meyer, CEO, Lawrence Memorial Hospital¢ The Rev. Leo Barbee Jr., Victory Bible ChurchEvening session: 7:30 p.m., Woodruff Auditorium, Kansas UnionPanelists:¢ Kansas University Chancellor Bob Hemenway¢ Bill Self, KU men's basketball head coach¢ State Rep. Kenny Wilk¢ William Docking, Kansas Board of Regents¢ Joan Hunt, KU Medical Center senior associate dean¢ Reginald Robinson, president and CEO of the Kansas Board of RegentsTicketsTickets are required to attend the sessions and are available at the Lawrence Journal-World, 609 N.H. Limit two tickets per person.The noon session costs $5 per person. Lunch will be served. Evening session is free.

Josephson said he deplored reality TV shows, where duplicity and deception often are rewarded.

In "Temptation Island," for example, dating couples travel to an exotic locale, go on dates with sexy singles and are separated from their significant others until the final day of their stay.

"Most of these reality TV shows are about winning by hook or crook," he said. "I'm not a prude. I have four little girls. I don't think it will make them better people or better mothers or better wives or better employees."

Josephson also mentioned athletic scandals at major universities, including the story of Iowa State basketball coach Larry Eustachy, who resigned last year after photos showed him partying with young women in Columbia, Mo.

At another Big 12 school, the University of Colorado's legal fees in its football recruiting and sex scandal have exceeded $1 million.

Coach Gary Barnett was suspended during the off-season amid allegations the program used sex and alcohol to lure recruits. He later was reinstated. The troubles began earlier this year with a scandal that painted Colorado as an out-of-control campus where women get raped by football players and sex and alcohol are part of the recruiting process.

"If you had a daughter in college and she called home and said, 'Dad I'm dating someone on the football team,' would your heart soar or sink?" Josephson asked. "I would worry more, not less, if my daughter were dating a Division 1 athlete."

He stressed that he did not want to overgeneralize and that he did not think all athletes were bad.

"The primary role of universities is not to produce winning sports teams," Josephson said. "When the obsession with winning becomes so great that other duties are sacrificed-- building character, modeling of highest integrity ... then the university is betraying its responsibility."

And then there are the numerous and increasing examples of business fraud.

Belo Corp. announced recently it had overstated circulation numbers at The Dallas Morning News. The Chicago Sun-Times' parent announced it inflated the paper's circulation figures for several years. Chicago-based Tribune Co. said circulation had been inflated at Newsday, its New York tabloid, and Hoy, a Spanish-language daily in New York.

With inflated circulation, the newspapers were "charging more money for their advertising than they had the right to," Josephson said.

"When money's at stake, it seems like a lot of people throw their morality out the window," he said. "If it even pervades our watchdogs, we've got to be concerned."

-- Journal-World wire services contributed information to this story.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, was elected two years ago as the 44th governor of Kansas. She was born in Cincinnati, the daughter of former Ohio Gov. John Gilligan. She graduated from Trinity College in Washington, D.C., and Kansas University. She served in the Kansas House of Representatives from 1987 to 1994. In 1994, she was elected insurance commissioner, serving two terms.County Commissioner Bob Johnson has lived in Douglas County for more than 30 years. He is retired from Charlton Manley insurance in Lawrence. He has served on the boards of many Douglas County organizations, including the Lawrence Memorial Hospital board of trustees, Lawrence Chamber of Commerce board of directors and Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center governing board.Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Deanell Reece Tacha was born in Goodland. She received a bachelor's degree from Kansas University and a juris doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School. She has worked in private practice in Washington, D.C., and Concordia. She served on the faculty of the KU School of Law for 11 years and is a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.Lawrence Memorial Hospital president and CEO Gene Meyer graduated from high school in Kansas City, Mo. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in business administration from Rockhurst College in Kansas City and teaches in the health sciences administration program at Webster University in Kansas City. He was previously senior executive office for St. Luke's South, a hospital in suburban Johnson County. He was named CEO of LMH in 1997.The Rev. Leo Barbee Jr. is pastor of Victory Bible Church, 1942 Mass., and a longtime leader in Lawrence's black community.KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway was born in Iowa and graduated from high school in Hastings, Neb. He received a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a doctorate in English from Kent State University in Ohio. He teaches an undergraduate English class at KU most semesters and came to KU as chancellor in 1995. He is chairman of the NCAA Division I board of directors. He also serves on the boards of the American Council on Education and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges.KU men's basketball head coach Bill Self is from Edmond, Okla. He received a bachelor's degree in business and a master's degree in athletic administration from Oklahoma State University. Self came to Lawrence from the University of Illinois, where he guided the Fighting Illini in three seasons to two Big 10 regular-season championships, a Big 10 tournament title and three straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament. The Jayhawks won the top spot for the 2004-05 basketball season in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll released Thursday.State Rep. Kenny Wilk was born and raised in Leavenworth County and lives in Lansing. He attended Rockhurst College and Baker University. He is a commercial sales executive at Hallmark Cards Inc. Wilk was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 1992 and represents the 42nd District in Leavenworth County. He is chairman of the House Economic Development Committee and past chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, the Kansas 2000 Select Committee and the Legislative Budget Committee.William Docking was appointed to the Kansas Board of Regents in 1995. Born in Lawrence and raised in Arkansas City, Docking moved to Topeka during high school when his father, Robert Docking, was elected governor. Docking received a Bachelor of Arts degree from KU. He also received a master's in business administration and a law degree from KU. He lives in Arkansas City and is chairman, president and chief executive officer of Union State Bank.Joan Hunt, KU School of Medicine senior associate dean for research and graduate education, was raised in Paola. She received an A.B. degree from KU in bacteriology. After raising her family, she returned to graduate school and received her doctorate in immunology from KU. She is an internationally recognized expert in reproductive immunology with studies on uterine immune cells as well as genetic, cellular and immunological aspects of fetal-placental-maternal interactions. She is associate director of the Kansas Reproductive Sciences Center.Kansas Board of Regents president and CEO Reginald Robinson earned his undergraduate and law degrees from KU, where he was student body vice president. Between college and law school, he served four years in the U.S. Army. Before his appointment as Board of Regents CEO, he served jointly as chief of staff to KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway and as a visiting associate professor in the School of Law. He also has served as deputy associate attorney general of the United States, where he was a key adviser to the associate attorney general on environmental, civil rights and justice matters.

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