INDIANAPOLIS—Marian University (marian.edu) has commitments of nearly $9 million to open a new Center for Ethics in 2019. The majority of the money raised comes in the form of a lead gift from Frank D. Walker, Chairman Emeritus of Walker Information, and the Walker Family Foundation. The new entity will be called the Walker Center for Applied Ethics at Marian University.
The mission of the Walker Center for Applied Ethics is to advance a more ethical world by improving and evolving the interdisciplinary teaching of ethics and by bridging the gap between research and organizational best practices. Areas of focus will include research, certificate programs for ethics professionals, and a nationally recognized speaker series.
In addition to the Walker gift, Marian University previously received a gift from OneAmerica for the Semler Endowed Chair of Ethics, named for Jerry Semler, chairman emeritus for The Companies of OneAmerica, upon Semler’s retirement from the company. Elsener said that the university will continue to seek additional donors and funding sources for the effort.
“I am so grateful to Frank Walker, the Walker Family Foundation, Jerry Semler, and OneAmerica for adding their magnanimous commitments to create this center,” Daniel J. Elsener, president of Marian University, said. “Their contributions will be returned with increase, and will benefit the community for decades to come.”
“It’s an honor to be associated with the creation of the Walker Center for Applied Ethics,” Semler said. “Having an ethics center at a faith-based institution like Marian University makes perfect sense. This will benefit all Marian students, as well as the community.”
Frank D. Walker started with Walker Information as director of sales in 1960 after serving in the US Air Force. He served in a variety of capacities with the organization founded in 1939 by his mother, Dorothy “Tommie” Walker, before becoming president in 1967 and chairman/CEO in 1983. He turned over day-to-day operations to his son Steve Walker in 1994. During his tenure, Frank was particularly interested in developing research products that measured the ethical culture of business organizations and evaluated the business value and impact of corporate social responsibility.
“Frank’s life, career and company consistently demonstrate the strategic importance of ethics and corporate citizenship,” Ed Bonach, retired chief executive officer, CNO Financial Group, said. “Marian’s Franciscan values provide support to further ethics in our businesses, communities and lives. Walker and Marian are a solid team!”
Walker identified Marian University as the best partner for a new ethics center after contacting seven colleges and universities across Indiana. “During my conversations with Marian University’s leadership, it became apparent that the institution has been committed to values and ethics since inception,” Walker said. “I found it impressive that Marian is already offering a concentration in Ethics, and has hosted the Central States Regional Ethics Bowl on campus since 1999.”
The Walker Center for Applied Ethics will look to collaborate with other ethics centers and organizations, businesses, universities, and community organizations to achieve its mission. Already, a planning committee has been formed; members include representatives from Business Ethics Indiana (BEI), Eli Lilly and Company, Cummins, and Ascension St. Vincent, among others. “We want to collaborate, not compete, with other ethics centers,” Walker said. “We’re not looking to recreate what has already been accomplished. We want to innovate, collectively.”
Fernanda Beraldi from Cummins and Steve Guymon from Lilly are founding members of BEI. “On behalf of BEI, we are thrilled in the creation of the Walker Center. This represents a unique opportunity to accelerate the partnership of academics, professionals and the broader community to elevate the understanding of leading practices, collaborative research and practical application of ethics. We are confident that the Walker Center will be an excellent conduit to share and enhance this field with current and future leaders.”
“In recent years, we’ve seen challenges in business ethics and social responsibility,” Scott Bruns, Indianapolis Managing Partner for Ernst & Young LLP and a member of the Walker Center for Applied Ethics planning committee, said. “Yet studies show that companies that are perceived by the public to be ethical are also the companies that are the most profitable. Through the Walker Center for Applied Ethics at Marian University, we want to connect and collaborate with the community, and help people understand that being ethical isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s good for business.”
The planning committee is currently evaluating potential certificate programs for ethics professionals. Among the topics being considered are Anti-Corruption, Privacy, Risk Identification, Risk Management, and Behavioral Ethics.
“The certificate program will provide real-world applications for business professionals,” Walker said. “We will certainly conduct research and engage in the theory of ethics, but identifying ways to help leaders apply what they’ve learned to improve the ethical culture of their businesses is a top priority.”
“Research has revealed that if a company’s employees think the CEO is ethical, employee loyalty scores increase,” Walker added. “This is especially true of the generation that has entered the workforce in the past decade. Nobody wants to be embarrassed by the company they work for.”
According to Elsener, the next step in opening the Walker Center for Applied Ethics is to hire a search firm to help identify a director. “We want to find someone who will not only serve as the face and voice of ethics on the Marian University campus, but will also represent Marian University at the state and national levels.”
For more information, visit marian.edu/walkerethicscenter.
About Marian University Indianapolis
Founded in 1937, Marian University is proud to be the only Catholic university in Indianapolis and central Indiana. In 2018, Marian is serving 2,400 undergraduate and 1,160 graduate students earning degrees in the arts, business, education, engineering, math, medicine, nursing, ministry, and the natural and physical sciences. The university’s high-impact, experiential curriculum is designed to provide hands-on, collaborative learning opportunities for students from 45 states and 23 nations. Marian climbed in U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 Midwestern rankings to be named #10 Most Innovative Regional University, #24 Best Value University, and #38 Best Regional University. Marian University opened its College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2013, making i
t the first new school of medicine in the state of Indiana in over 110 years. Marian’s national champion varsity athletic programs include the 2012 and 2015 NAIA Football National Championship, the 2016 and 2017 NAIA Women’s Basketball Championship, and more than 40 USA Cycling national championships