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Trust and ethics

Guest speaker Stephen M.R. Covey presents to a packed room

The Meyer Ballroom at CMU was buzzing at 7:30am on Wednesday, Sept. 25. Usually, it's a challenge to get college students up this early but the ballroom was packed with students, community members and faculty to hear keynote speaker Stephen M. R. Covey. Covey, a public speaker and author of The Speed of Trust, talked about the role of building trust as it pertains to teaching leadership. This presentation was the first in a series for the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative.

“The Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative has eight principles that we use as an ethical decision-making framework, and trust is one of them,” said Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs Morgan Bridge, PhD. “According to Mr. Covey, it's the most important one.”

To start his lecture, Covey pointed to the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative banners on stage, pointing to ‘Trust’ on the list of principles. "If you, as a leader, want to be trusted you have to give it," Covey said. The Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative has eight principles. Trust is the second principle on the list, which Covey proposed was no accident. “Trust is confidence,” he said. “Born of two dimensions: character and competence. Character includes your integrity, motive and intent with people.”

Stephen Covey standing by his book

The Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative is named after entrepreneur Bill Daniels, who was dedicated to ethics. Daniels was a Colorado native and a pioneer of cable television, launching his first cable system in 1954. 

“Mr. Daniels was a extraordinarily successful businessperson. He made literally millions of dollars in his lifetime and he did it through ethical practices,” Bridge said about Daniels.

Daniels spent his final years creating the Daniels Fund and upon his death in March of 2000, his estate was transferred to the Daniels Fund, creating its base of assets and making it one of the largest foundations in the Rocky Mountain region.

Colorado Mesa University is one of 11 schools that was invited to participate in the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative at the collegiate level. The program was established in 2009 and launched in 2010 for a five-year pilot program. The program was a success and was renewed in 2014 for five more years. The collegiate program’s goal is to instill a high standard of ethics in young people by strengthening principle-based ethics education throughout participating schools. The program has reached nearly 400,000 students, faculty and business people.

Participating schools, like Colorado Mesa University, become members of the Daniels Fund Ethics Consortium.

“Really the focus is on having those schools form a consortium, where we're all sharing ideas and activities, and thought processes about how we help students become more ethical,” Bridge said. “Pretty exciting in higher ed, since we don't do a lot of consortiums like this. For schools to actually get together and share ideas, share what's working, have opportunities for students from different schools to interact, is really exciting.”

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Written by Zoe Shanahan