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Baker Report: Living our values every day

March 31, 2016
NIU President Doug Baker

NIU President Doug Baker

One of the phenomenal benefits and results of an NIU education – of what some call “the NIU experience” – is the well-rounded preparation we offer for life itself.

Students here learn more than what they need to excel in their chosen professions.

They gain an understanding of the mutual benefits of mentoring; of the satisfaction of rolling up their sleeves to volunteer near home and far away; of the thrills of research and discovery, and creativity and artistry, working alongside caring faculty who still remember those feelings well.

NIU also strives to graduate students who are not only valuable contributors to society but ethical ones. They bring those principles with them, of course; it’s our role to reinforce why such values are critical to productive lives.

Because ethics comprise one of our pillars of Student Career Success – Ethically Inspired Leadership – I was delighted many months ago to hear from Bill McCoy, director of the BELIEF Program in the College of Business.

He had been thinking about what Ethically Inspired Leadership meant, and what that phrase could represent, and had some ideas to share with me. I liked what I saw, and I asked him to keep going.

What Bill eventually provided, created through the teamwork of five of his outstanding colleagues from across the campus, is a wonderful snapshot of where our university is and an indication of where we can go.

Dubbed “LIVE,” for “Leadership Inspired by Values and Ethics,” the acronym encourages and inspires us to “LIVE” our values every day. It’s a simple reminder that our principles matter, and that our principles make a difference, not just once in a while but all the time.

Excellence. Integrity. Collaboration. Diversity. Public Purpose/Impact. Caring. Social Justice.

Certainly we already can point to many reasons for pride in this endeavor.

cobGraduates of the BELIEF Program, now celebrating its 10th year at NIU, can attest to this. They leave NIU prepared to apply their core ethical values and moral courage in the workplace.

Members of the LEAD (Leaders in Ethics and Academic Discipline) student organization can attest to this. They give voice to the ethical needs, issues and concerns of the students; their diverse enrollment provides a broad understanding of ethical concerns in business.

Pam Smith’s students and alums from the Department of Accountancy can attest to this. Known as “a champion of ethics education” who offers her expertise to organizations such as the Illinois Government Finance Officers Association, Pam helped to create NIU’s certificate in ethics.

As the “LIVE” mission gains momentum, I am struck by two aspects of the process.

First, this effort to put flesh on the bones of an NIU pillar was an organic one. It did not come from administrators in Altgeld Hall but from faculty and staff across campus. Truly, members of the university community have demonstrated that these pillars are not mine – but theirs.

Second, the qualities that Bill and his group identified from their research are not heights to which we should aspire but characteristics that already exist here. Various mission and values statements posted throughout our divisions, colleges, offices and units bear these out.

Let’s continue to embrace and model these values, not only to students and mentees, but to families, neighbors and friends. The examples we set will “LIVE” on in those who witness them.

Together forward,