Each spring, Austin College students have a role in the selection of recipients for the Greater Dallas Business Ethics Awards. The award was founded in 2000 by local leaders with the Dallas Chapter of the Society of Financial Service Professionals who recognized that the everyday application of ethical business practices helps foster a more stable and vibrant business environment. The annual award honors Dallas-based companies that demonstrate a measurable commitment to ethical business practices in everyday operations, management philosophies and responses to crises or challenges.
The students, all participants in the Austin College Posey Leadership Institute’s leadership studies minor, work behind the scenes for many weeks. Their role is to research and evaluate the award nominees. They begin by reading nominee submissions, which may be over 50 pages each, then visit the sites to interview organization leadership, and write site visit reports that add the human element to the review process. Students speak with presidents and CEOs about the ways they encourage an ethical climate in the workplace.
The information gathered is beneficial to the selection panel—and offers a great experiential learning opportunity for students, according to Dr. Martinella Dryburgh, director of the Posey Leadership Institute. Through interviews, written reports, and interaction with the selection panel, students improve oral and written communication skills that will benefit any future career. The written program for the awards luncheon recognized the Austin College student involvement, which, it said, “has proven invaluable to the judges in terms of humanizing the written submission of each nominated company.”
Dr. Dryburgh advises students interested in the course that includes this project that between preparation for interviews, travel and interview time with businesses, written reports, and other interaction, the course could involve more than 100 hours. Students seem to take that in stride. Posey Leadership Institute students have been involved with the project for several years.
Student evaluators for the May 2016 awards were team leader Elizabeth Pargaman ’16, Karisma Sheth ’17, Connor Cumpton ’18, Akshay Shetty ’16, Lauren Mara ’18, Kevin Butler ’18, and Ethan Smith ’17.
Dr. Mark Hebert, associate professor of philosophy and Philosophy Department chair at Austin College, served as a judge on the 2016 selection panel. Alicia Mistry ’14, now of Goldman Sachs, serves along with Dr. Dryburgh on the steering committee for the project.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 36 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of 1,250 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 12:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.