NE Utilities to Endow
Ethics Chair, Environmental Clinic
October 25, 1999
The University will establish an endowed chair in ethics and an environmental engineering clinic with a $1.65 million contribution from Northeast Utilities.
The contribution is part of an agreement resulting from the company's violations of federal environmental laws. In September, two subsidiaries of Northeast Utilities - Northeast Nuclear Energy Company and Northeast Utilities Service Company - pleaded guilty in Federal Court to violations of the Atomic Energy Act and the Clean Water Act. The violations occurred between 1994 and 1998 at the Millstone Nuclear Power Station in Waterford and the Devon Generating Station in Milford.
The chair, which will be housed in the School of Business Administration, will focus on business ethics issues and questions of social responsibility in the new millennium. "The 21st century brings with it challenging social, legal, behavioral and technological questions in the whole ethics arena," says Thomas Gutteridge, dean of the business school.
"Managers must be able to effectively translate articulated corporate ideals to day-to-day operations and be ethically responsible to their stakeholders," according to a proposal for the chair prepared by the business school. "Those professionals who successfully foster a workplace culture that encourages ethical conduct will see the positive impact in terms of employee motivation and job satisfaction and customer preference."
Gutteridge says the scope of the chair will be multidisciplinary. "Ethical issues cut across all the disciplinary areas and affect public, private and non-profit sectors," he says. "The chair will teach and do research and interact with the business community around these emerging issues."
Ethics is a growing field at academic institutions around the country, Gutteridge adds. "As we become an increasingly global society, the ethical issues become more - not less - complicated."
In the early 1970s, business law faculty at UConn were among the first in the nation to develop a course on "The Legal Environment of Business," that emphasized the intertwining of law, ethics and social policy. This type of course is now standard in leading business schools around the country.
Gutteridge says the chair in ethics is "the proverbial silver lining" of the legal settlement with Northeast Utilities. "The context is unfortunate, but Northeast Utilities recognizes that errors in judgment were made," he says. "The chair is one way to ensure ongoing dialogue on ethical issues in the future."
An additional $650,000 contribution from Northeast Utilities will establish an endowed Environmental Engineering Clinic for environmental outreach and education in areas of Connecticut with high levels of toxic pollutants.
"We are extremely pleased by the opportunity to partner with Northeast Utilities in this unique educational endeavor," said Amir Faghri, dean of the School of Engineering. "Our expertise and resources in the areas of environmental analysis and remediation, as well as cutting-edge educational methodologies, are considerable."
The clinic will provide environmental programs designed especially for high school students, small businesses and residents of economically disadvantaged urban areas of the state that have disproportionately high environmental pollution.
Faghri said educating people about the environment is an essential field. "Environmental challenges will plague humanity for as long as we inhabit the Earth. Through education, however, we can begin to understand, reduce and prevent the most damaging environmental problems."