Alumni Share Ethics Lessons During BELIEF Week

By Eva Richards

Martin Luther King, Jr., famously said “The time is always right to do what is right.” For students in the College of Business, that time is now.

On Oct. 7-11, students, faculty and alumni gather for BELIEF Week, when all attention shifts to ethics in business. Ethics experts will be sharing with students throughout the campus in both classrooms and larger auditorium venues, helping to develop ethical business leaders through the integration of program development, faculty support, business community involvement and learner engagement.

The BELIEF Week Speaker Series kicks off at 5 p.m on Monday, Oct.7. in Barsema Hall, Room 300, with a panel discussion entitled “Ethics Across Industries.” As part of this panel, executives from the engineering, financial services and corporate security industries will discuss the most significant ethical issues currently challenging their respective industries, and how those issues may cross over to impact the other industries represented on the panel.

The second event in the series will take place at 3:30 p.m on Tuesday, Oct. 8,  in Barsema Hall, Room 300. Jeffrey Yordon, President and COO of Athenex Pharma, will make a presentation entitled “Relationships and Ethics: Keys to Success.”

The final event in the speaker series will be the BELIEF Week Keynote Address at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 9, in the Barsema Hall Auditorium. College of Business instructor Jedediah McClure will present “The Ethical Organization: Lessons from the Front,” where he will recount his remarkable personal story that has been featured on many media outlets including "Dateline NBC" and "Investigation Discovery." In 2013, a business partner embezzled millions of dollars from one of McClure’s companies and killed two partners. At great risk to his own life, McClure spent more than a year exposing his former partner and uncovering evidence that would later be used in his arrest and conviction. Having survived two attempted murder plots and enormous financial loss, McClure is passionate about preventing fraud and teaching others how to protect themselves.

“Ethics, morals, and values are at the core of who we are as individuals and as a society as a whole,” McClure said. “Our value system creates the framework through which we see the world and, as a result, how we interact with each other. Through 20 years of business experience, I have seen first-hand what happens when values are ignored. More importantly, I have come to recognize the types of situations in which people are likely to set their values aside and engage in dishonest or immoral behavior.”

McClure added that he hopes his story will help students to recognize situations in which they are more likely to ignore their core values so they can avoid compromising situations. He also hopes to teach them how to protect themselves by becoming aware of situations in which other people may be more likely to take advantageous of them.

But alumni don’t necessarily need a newsworthy story to take part in BELIEF week. Ethics are a huge part of the daily business world, and NIU is looking for alumni volunteers to share real-life stories of everyday ethical decision-making and dilemmas with classes.

Panelist Frank Scarpiniti has been involved in BELIEF Week several times over recent years, previously serving as judge in the Ethics Bowl for both DeKalb High School’s and NIU’s competitions. He has also served as a speaker at several classes and will continue this year as part of Monday’s panel discussion.

“I am honored to share insights and thoughts to NIU students,” he said. “I wish I had had more opportunities to interact with business executives. Plus, my participation has been very rewarding to me because I’m able to keep in touch with professionals entering the work force, and I always encourage the students to participate in future BELIEF Weeks events.”

Scarpiniti added that College of Business leaders understand that ethics is a very important component in all aspects of life.

“Ethical beliefs and ethical behavior are traits that can lead to success, and they’re unique in that they are controlled by each individual,” he said.

The entire NIU community is welcome to attend the BELIEF Week Speaker Series later this month, but we’re also beginning to look toward our spring BELIEF Week, which will take place April 6-10, 2020.

While, we won’t actively recruit for the spring event until 2020, those who are interested in learning more or would like to participate in BELIEF Week are invited to contact Liz McKee, Director of Alumni Volunteer Engagement, at 815-753-7400 or There are plenty of opportunities to use your experiences in a useful and fulfilling way, and our Alumni Volunteer Engagement team will help you discern where you might best fit!