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New Center Instills Ethical Leadership

University of St. Thomas Houston students sitting in front of Catholic Chapel of St. Basil

Ethics and leadership are two fundamental elements of students’ education at the University of St. Thomas.

The new Center for Ethical Leadership operates under the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and as one of the University of St. Thomas’s six centers, the CEL brings together faculty, visiting fellows, prominent leaders-in-residence and students to research and engage in practices that strengthen and advance ethical leadership in a variety of professions.

The six UST centers include the Center for Thomistic Studies, Center for Faith and Culture, McNair Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, Center for International Studies, Center for Irish Studies and Center for Ethical Leadership.

According to Dr. Dominic Aquila, provost and vice president of academic affairs, the founding of the Center is forming ethical students who are also leaders.

“The Center for Ethical Leadership grew out of the Center for Business Ethics, because we wanted to join together two of the most important elements of the St. Thomas education,” Aquila said.

The Center for Ethical Leadership provides a congenial and intellectually stimulating environment for ethics research and teaching that integrates the art and practice of leadership with Catholic, Basilian values.

The Center’s director Dr. Joseph Cerami holds the Burnett Family Distinguished Chair in Leadership.

Cerami is the director of the Public Service Leadership Program at Texas A&M University. He holds a doctorate from Penn State University's School of Public Affairs, and he teaches courses in national security policy and leadership studies in the Master's Program in International Affairs. Cerami also received a Master of Arts in Government from the University of Texas at Austin, a Master of Military Art and Science from the School of Advanced Military Studies in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and a Bachelor of Science in General Engineering from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Cerami retired from the U.S. Army as a colonel after a 30-year career, during which he served in Germany and the Republic of Korea. His last military assignment was as the chairman of the Department of National Security and Strategy at the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, from 1998-2001.

Funding for CEL comes from the Burnett Family Distinguished Chair in Leadership, the Cullen Trust for Higher Education Chair in Business Ethics and the Hugo Mann Endowment for University Excellence.

“The director will be able to coordinate a new minor program in ethical leadership at UST that will allow students across all disciplines to take courses in ethical leadership,” Aquila said. “The director will also be the person on campus who projects UST’s principles. Ethics, from a Catholic standpoint, is both internal for our students and external for our community.”

Future Center faculty will also focus on the following disciplines: criminal justice, education, environmental science, global leadership, nursing, peace and reconciliation, public policy, science and technology, social entrepreneurship and the arts.

By Deema Al-Rasheed

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