Written by: Scott A. Beaulier

Last week, NDSU College of Business hosted our second Wold Lecture Series in Business Ethics. The monthly forum underscores our commitment to a 360-degree business education for our students.

“Business” is more than balance sheets, product designs, cost cutting and productivity strategies. At the same time that automation has netted headlines—either to stoke fear that humans will be replaced, or out of excitement for the incredible innovation and efficiency in the pipeline—a body of practical scholarship has emerged examining the role of ethics and core values in long-term business success.IMG_3419[1]

“Business” is not an inhuman term for buying and selling products and services but a beautiful, albeit complex, system whereby humans interact with each other at multiple levels: as employees, customers, and managers, among many other roles. It is a way to support human dignity and develop relationships.

It’s imperative that business leaders understand that profits and people cannot be uncoupled, which is why NDSU’s CoB makes ethics a core aspect of our curriculum. It’s just another way that our program stands out by fusing disciplines traditionally viewed and studied separately.

And, what better way to help students learn these lessons by tapping into case studies right in our neighborhood. Our first guest last month was Vern Dosch, CEO of NISC, a technology company in Mandan, North Dakota. NISC employs more than 1,100 people and has been in business for 50 years. Mr. Dosch knows a thing or two about treating employees and customers right and, generously gave his time to talk with our students about the role “servant leadership” plays in his company’s success.

Students were blown away by Mr. Dosch’s “always do the right thing” message and the fact that he has found time to write a book, Wired Differently, which is free to anyone who asks for a copy. The energy Mr. Dosch’s visit injected into our college will extend well beyond the one-hour lunch.

The Wold Lecture Series in Business Ethics is another way that NDSU CoB is breaking out of just classroom learning by bringing students, community members, and experts together for interactive learning. Each month, the featured guest delivers a brief “lecture” before turning to the students for a direct, fast-paced Q&A.

This month’s guest was Alexei Marcoux, a Professor of Business Ethics at Creighton University who talked with about 100 students, faculty, and community members about the inherent goodness at the core of almost all businesses and how the cases we use in most business ethics classes—Enron and Worldcom—are the exceptions, rather than the norm. In most cases, businesses and the entrepreneurs driving innovation are inherently moral and good people trying to do good for the world while vernwithjasonsimultaneously doing well for themselves.

The lecture series is thanks to a gift from Tom, Jim, and Don Wold—three brothers and successful local entrepreneurs. The Wolds want their gift to help students learn that “a strong ethical framework is absolutely vital to long-term business success,” and we believe a great way to advance this goal is for students to hear from businesspeople practicing ethics and value-based practices in their businesses.

The Wold Lecture Series continues for the next 5 years and we’re always happy to have our neighbors join us! We have our schedule lined-up through May and speakers include Julie Peterson-Klein, who will talk about cultural change and Bell Bank’s nationally recognized “Pay It Forward” program, and CeCe Morken, a Vice President at Intuit, who will talk about her experiences with start-ups and new role as manager of a mostly Millennial workforce. For more information, please visit our webpage, or follow us on Twitter @NDSUbusiness.

Lindsay Breuler