Grants bring new academic opportunities to Emporia State students through Center for Leadership and Ethics

June 4, 2014

Emporia State’s School of Business has announced a landmark initiative to establish a center of leadership and business ethics dedicated to the study of free market principles, leadership and ethical theories.

Initial grants for the creation of the center total $750,000 and come from the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation, Koch Industries, Inc. and three School of Business alumni and Wichita-based Koch employees: David Robertson, president and chief operating officer, Koch Industries; Dale Gibbens, senior vice president, human resources and public sector, Koch Industries; and Kim Penner, president, Koch Pipeline Company, L.P.

“The new Center for Leadership and Ethics is a great example of public-private partnerships moving Emporia State University forward,” said Dr. Michael D. Shonrock, president of Emporia State University. “Through the new programs offered at the center, our students and faculty will be working for the common good.”

While positively impacting students, faculty and community, the center will allow Emporia State to multiply productivity while further exploring the impact of free market principles, leadership and ethical theories.

"As an Emporia State business school graduate, this is an exciting milestone," said Dave Robertson. "On behalf of Koch Industries and my fellow ESU alumni, we are proud to join the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation ‎to help make this vision a reality."

For DenaSue Potestio, president and CEO of the Emporia State Foundation, the connection between three Koch employees who are also Emporia State alumni and their enthusiasm for what the center can do for students personifies the spirit of the Now & Forever Campaign, the largest and most comprehensive fund-raising campaign in the University’s history. 

"I'd like to sincerely thank Dave, Dale and Kim for their philanthropic support, as well as Koch Industries and the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation. The center will do important work — exploring what leadership capabilities are necessary to advance the economic well-being of individuals, organizations, communities, and ultimately states and nations, and how strong ethical principles provide the very fabric of sound leadership decisions," said Potestio.

Robertson is a 2006 Distinguished Alumni, Gibbens serves on the School of Business Council of Advisors, and Penner currently serves as chair of the Foundation’s board of trustees.

The center’s major initiatives include growth in curriculum, distinguished speaker series and a visiting scholar who will engage in both teaching and research related to the center’s mission. The center’s leadership is comprised of co-directors, Dr. Kevin Johnson, professor of law, and Dr. Steven Lovett, incoming assistant professor of business law and ethics. In fall 2014, the directors will also be joined by a visiting scholar.

“We will be supporting instruction, research and workshops designed to teach and apply principles of leadership and ethics so that individuals and organizations are better prepared to achieve success,” said Johnson, center co-director.

“But this is not just about winning or reaching a goal,” Johnson added. “It is about understanding how leadership and ethical qualities can be applied by anyone in any situation so value is added in as wide a circle as possible.”

Pending approval from the Kansas Board of Regents at the June 18-19 meeting, the center will officially be named the Koch Center for Leadership and Ethics. The center, housed in the School of Business, will involve faculty from multiple disciplines to participate in exploring topics related to the center’s mission. The center will collaborate with students and faculty alike to research and publish, as well as involve students from across the university in colloquiums, a speaker series and reading groups.

Dr. Kristie Ogilvie, dean of the School of Business, will be instrumental in the implementation of the center and will offer continuous support of operations.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for the School of Business,” says Ogilvie. “The resources and support will have a great impact on our students.”

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