Ethics First draws crowd, stresses individual accountability

In hushed tones, more than 150 UCCS faculty, staff and students recited a student-developed UCCS creed Thursday morning during the kick off of an Ethics First campaign.

Encouraged to stand pledge-of-allegiance-style by Joey Vijayam, student body president, Student Government Association, the crowd recited tenets of purpose, respect, integrity, determination and excellence before hearing from Chancellor Venkat Reddy and guest speaker Jim Parke, CEO for Blue Ocean Enterprises and Otter Products of Fort Collins. Later, attendees broke into small groups to discuss ethical challenges commonly faced by faculty, staff or students.

“Ethics elevates the institution,” Reddy said before complementing the student initiative that led to the creed introduced this fall and encouraging faculty and staff to adopt it as well.

Reddy connected ethics with respect and academic excellence, early cornerstones of his time as chancellor. He also connected strong ethics to partnerships such as the ones that led to the William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center and the National Cyber Center. He posed student retention as an area of ethical responsibility for the campus.

“We respect people who are ethical; it is as simple as that,” Reddy said.

He posed that an ethical culture makes believers of stakeholders, thus people want to partner with the university because they trust it.

He also referenced a recent campus survey of faculty and staff about the ethical culture of campus, calling the results “challenging” and calling on faculty and staff to make both individual and collective improvement.

“Ethics is like oxygen,” Reddy said. “You can’t see it but it is everywhere. Just like when you are deprived of oxygen you stop breathing, when ethics are lacking in an organization that organization also struggles to breathe. Let’s become the institution known for its ethical culture. Together, we can make UCCS the model of what an ethical workplace looks like.”

Jim Parke, CEO for Blue Ocean Enterprises and Otter Products of Fort Collins, served as a guest speaker at the Ethics First event.

Parke shared ethical dilemmas faced by his company ranging from attempted bribes, and contract errors to product recalls and knock off versions of company products.

“The enemy of conscience is rationalization,” Parke said.

Later, he defined money and pride as the biggest sources of temptation for unethical behavior. While complimentary of posters on either side of the Berger Hall stage citing Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative and UCCS values, he called on those in attendance to go beyond words.

“It’s easy to put this stuff on paper,” Parke said. “That does not guarantee success. That’s maybe only 5 percent of the battle. You have to move from pen to heart. You have to figure out your why. Is it monetary or something else? If your why is personal financial gain, you’re going to have difficulty.”

The Ethics First Event was organized by the Office of Compliance in conjunction with the UCCS Ethics Committee and sponsored by the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative at UCCS.

For more information about Ethics First, contact Debi O’Connor, director, Office of Compliance, 255-3837, or visit

UCCS Student Creed

Purpose – We make our school an inclusive learning environment where all students can succeed. We use this success to drive positive change in ourselves and our communities.

Respect – We value each other’s unique qualities and are able to discuss powerful topics with kindness and an open mind.

Integrity – We keep our commitments and are honest with everyone we meet. Our character is of the highest quality.

Determination – We reach higher through our education, relationships, and involvement with campus life

Excellence – We take responsibility for our thoughts, words, and actions. We continue to improve through both failure and success.

— Photos by Tom Hutton, video by Matt Getze

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