Annual Ethics Symposium puts ethics on trial Oct. 23

Oct 21, 2018

Oklahoma Christian University’s College of Business challenges students to examine morality by putting ethics on trial at this year’s Millican Ethics Symposium Oct. 23.  

Every year, the OC’s business faculty organize an ethics symposium for students to investigate ethical issues. In the past, individuals and panelists have been invited to discuss their personal views and experiences, and how they have had to wrestle with ethical issues.

This year’s symposium will put ethics on trial. Students will be shown a video clip that presents the ethical dilemma of the bridge keeper. In the clip, a bridge operator sees a train full of passengers approaching a raised drawbridge. When he notices that his son is playing under the bridge, he must decide whether to kill his son and save the passengers, or save his son and kill the passengers. After the clip has played, it will be used as evidence in a murder case for the child.

Dean of the College of Business Jeff Simmons, who teaches courses in business ethics, expressed his excitement for the Millican Ethics Symposium.

“We are doing something unique this year,” Simmons said. “We’ll have a judge, a prosecuting attorney and a defense attorney, and the audience will be the jury because we are putting ethics on trial as an accomplice to murder.”

Simmons explained that people make decisions based on their moral judgment regarding the right thing to do. In this case, ethics is being challenged as the culprit in determining why a person makes a decision.  

Simmons has helped organized the Millican Ethics Symposium for years now, and he enjoys challenging students to think about ethics as they continue to pursue their careers.

“My favorite part is when we are investigating these different issues; it really causes people to think,” said Simmons. “No decision is easy, and you do have to consider the implications of your actions. All our actions have consequences, so how do you make ethical decisions and live with those consequences?”

The Ethics Symposium is named after J.J. Millican, the father of OC board of trustees member Don Millican. Don serves as executive vice president and chief financial officer for Kaiser-Francis Oil Company.

J.J. Millican was a respected Christian businessman, faithful husband and father, as well as a Certified Public Accountant. He also was a national partner with Ernst & Young. Previous symposium speakers have included Enron whistleblower Sherron Watkins, former WorldCom controller David Myers, nationally known tax expert Susan Hamill, championship football coach Gene Stallings and Christian economist Anne Bradley.

The Millican Ethics Symposium begins at 7 p.m. in Judd Theater. The free event is open to the public.

The study and application of ethics is an important focus for the College of Business Administration. Multiple business ethics teams from OC win regional and state debate competitions and go on to nationals against some of the biggest universities in the nation. Just this month, OC's two teams took first and second place in at the Oklahoma Statewide Ethics Challenge. Those two teams will advance to the Regional Ethics Bowl in San Antonio.