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The Center for Business Ethics at Bentley College, The Longest-Running Center of its Kind, Celebrates 30 Years

December 7, 2006

Bentley College celebrates the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Center for Business Ethics (CBE), honoring three decades of innovative business ethics education and research. Led by W. Michael Hoffman, founder and executive director, the CBE has made significant contributions to the advancement of the business ethics movement: It has provided expertise and knowledge to business ethics educators, CEOs, their management teams and boards of directors, as well as courtroom testimony and media comment to news reporters from around the globe.

At a time when ethical lapses continue to plague today's business environment, the CBE's efforts have never been more important or timely as it works tirelessly to foster development of organizational cultures that align effective business performance with ethical business conduct.

"Many people think business ethics means the ethics of individuals, but it is much more than that," says Hoffman. "Good people can be brought down by bad organizations and good organizations can be brought down by bad people. It is vital for organizations to constantly remind employees that succeeding in financial goals is important, but not at the expense of values and ethical propriety."

The CBE was founded in 1976 following the receipt of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The center has evolved into an internationally recognized educational and consulting organization whose vision is a world in which all businesses contribute positively to society through ethically sound and responsible operations.

"Some people believe that their position or power or money puts them in a privileged status and, like gods, they don't have to obey the moral rules of mortal people. But like Icarus, who flew too close to the sun despite the warnings, these people will fall -- and sometimes take the company with them," says Hoffman.

The CBE is known worldwide for its research, surveys, conferences, scholarships, corporate ethics seminars and lectureships. In 2005, as part of the Bentley Alliance for Ethics and Social Responsibility, the center embarked on a multi-year partnership with State Street Corporation to establish the Global Business Ethics Symposium, in honor of the late Timothy B. Harbert '76, alumnus and trustee. The symposium brings together international experts, corporate leaders, academics and media, among others, for in-depth discussions of best practices and challenges in business ethics and education. The conference also kicks off a groundbreaking week-long workshop that brings faculty from around the world together to devise new ways to integrate business ethics into a school's curriculum.

Hoffman is a co-founder and the first executive director of the Ethics and Compliance Officer Association (ECOA), originally named the Ethics Officer Association. For the past decade, the CBE has partnered with ECOA to provide an executive education course called "Managing Ethics in Organizations."

"The Center for Business Ethics has informed the dialogue on business ethics from the very beginning and the Bentley community is proud to lead the charge on the examination of ethical issues and the role the center plays in informing business practices," said Robert Galliers, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. "As the CBE celebrates its 30th anniversary, we look forward to Bentley's continued commitment to this great partnership."

The CBE's many endeavors include:

  • The Raytheon Lectureship in Business Ethics: Since 2003, Raytheon has supported the center's executive lecture series, a forum for corporate presidents, CEOs, board chairpersons and other leading business ethics leaders to address important and timely topics. The Sears Lectureship Series preceded the Raytheon series.
  • The Verizon Visiting Professorship in Business Ethics and Information Technology brings leading scholars in business ethics to Bentley to address ethical issues relating to business and information technology.
  • Bentley is a corporate partner of the WGBH Forum Network, an audio and video streaming web site devoted to presentations, thought-provoking lectures and panel discussions hosted by distinguished cultural and educational organizations. The CBE's lectures are featured on the site.
  • The Kallman Executive Fellows Program provides affiliation opportunities for approximately 20 executives and practitioners with expertise in business ethics, expanding the professional reach of the center throughout the U.S. and abroad.
  • Specialized ethics education and training programs for corporations and their employees, tailored to specific needs.
  • The Sullivan Scholars Program, established in honor of human rights leader the Reverend Leon H. Sullivan, awards scholarships for students interested in business ethics.
  • Endowments by the Briggs and Skaletsky families enable the CBE to offer additional scholarships to Bentley juniors and seniors.

For more information on the Center for Business Ethics, please go to

BENTLEY UNIVERSITY is one of the nation’s leading business schools, dedicated to preparing a new kind of business leader – one with the deep technical skills, broad global perspective, and high ethical standards required to make a difference in an ever-changing world. Our rich, diverse arts and sciences program, combined with an advanced business curriculum, prepares informed professionals who make an impact in their chosen fields. Located on a classic New England campus minutes from Boston, Bentley is a dynamic community of leaders, scholars and creative thinkers. The Graduate School emphasizes the impact of technology on business practice, in offerings that include MBA and Master of Science programs, PhD programs in accountancy and in business, and customized executive education programs. The university enrolls approximately 4,100 full-time undergraduate, 140 adult part-time undergraduate, 1,430 graduate, and 43 doctoral students. Bentley is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges; AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; and the European Quality Improvement System, which benchmarks quality in management and business education. For more information, please visit

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