| New Director to Prepare Ethical Leaders of Tomorrow |
Corporate social responsibility, right to life issues and cyber ethics are all “hot topics” today, and the University of St. Thomas is giving students the opportunity to think critically and analyze these topics in the recently established Center for Ethical Leadership. To aid in achieving this goal, Dr. Robert Ivany, president of the university, and Dr. Dominic Aquila, provost, have brought Dr. Joseph Cerami to lead the Center and guide students while examining the importance of ethics in these fields and beyond.
“Dr. Cerami brings to the University’s Center for Ethical Leadership a distinguished career in leadership, much of it in the global arena, and a strong commitment to ethics as the indispensable foundation for being a great leader,” Aquila said.
Cerami said he and his wife are excited to join the dynamic St. Thomas community in a city as diverse, international and multi-cultural as Houston.
“The Center for Ethical Leadership provides an opportunity for me to contribute to and participate with communities of scholars and practitioners focused on the importance of moral values and ethical thinking,” Cerami said.
The Center’s work aims to enliven the moral imagination of leaders in every area of human activity, elevate moral and ethical discourse in the professions and in civil society and inspire lives of great purpose and ethical engagement.
“Ethical leadership is not important, it is critical,” Cerami said. “It is critical because we have to make decisions everyday that are going to affect relationships with friends, family, coworkers and others.”
The Case for Ethical Leadership
There is no area of human behavior that does not have explicit or implicit moral content to it. Likewise, there is no issue today that does not involve ethics.
At St. Thomas, Cerami wants to examine the role of ethics in three fields in particular: medical ethics, business ethics and ethics and technology. Corporate social responsibility, right to life issues and cyber ethics are all “hot topics” today, and the Center is giving students the opportunity to think critically think and analyze these topics.
The challenge with teaching ethical leadership lies in explaining the content in a manner that moves students from abstract concepts to practical applications. In class, students will look at challenges from multiple viewpoints to help them understand the importance and impact making an ethical decision will have.
This impact reaches the international level, for example: While the refugee crisis certainly affects the Middle East, its impact is not limited to it. In fact, its impact is spreading across Europe and into the United States.
Another benefit students will gain from studying ethical leadership is an increase in opportunity.
“Research strongly suggests that ethical leaders are more effective and ethical organizations achieve higher performance results,” Cerami said. “People who are leaders of character and understand the importance of values and value systems are going to be more successful in life and are better respected.”
Ethical leaders also enjoy better health, live longer and have better relationships, he said.
Cerami spent time at the George H.W. Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University where his research and course projects focused on three areas: leadership and developing emerging leaders; the Arab Spring and the Geopolitics of the Middle East; and the study of U.S. and European perspectives on Mediterranean security.
In 2015 Cerami published a study that gathered and analyzed the top research on leadership and leader development to highlight the needs for developing individuals committed to careers of service across the public, private and nonprofit sectors.
“As the founding director of the Bush School’s Public Service Leadership Program, we developed a mantra of educating principled leaders,” Cerami said. “The opportunity to join the faculty and staff at St. Thomas is a wonderful opportunity to extend ethical leadership ideas and programs that complement the University’s mission, values and vision.”