UM receives first invite to ethics conference

The University of Miami has been formally invited to one of the most prestigious ethics conferences in the country for the first time.

The 22nd National Conference on Ethics (NCEA) in America hosted by the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York will take place from Oct. 21 to 25 with four spots reserved for UM students.

Major Devon Blake, the coordinator for the NCEA, said she invites the top 100 schools that emphasize ethics in a “robust fashion.”

“I go literally across the country to find people who are passionate about ethics,” Blake said.

Last year, the UM Ethics Society Debate Team won the annual competition in Cincinnati, beating West Point – the defending champions. This year President Donna E. Shalala received the school’s first invitation.

UM’s Honor Council was invited last year and sent two students, Student Government President Danny Carvajal and Ana Katherine Mitchell, but this is the first year UM has formally been invited.

“I think this really reflects the University of Miami’s strong ethics curriculum and programming,” Anita Cava, director of the Business Ethics Program, said. “This [invitation] reflects that Miami is definitely moving up in the ranking.”

A teacher at the School of Business and Administration for 20 years, Cava was in charge of the selection process for the conference. She looked through many departments at the university, from philosophy to business, for potential student representatives.

Students were also interviewed and asked how they would use the lessons from the conference to benefit UM.

Of the five finalists, two juniors were selected: Amaka Ubaka and Thomas Barman.

Ubaka, a Communication Studies and International Relations major, is a member of the Ethics Society and became interested in the conference when Cava mentioned it in one of the Ethics Society’s meetings.

“It sounded like a great opportunity,” Ubaka said. “I am really interested in law school, and you don’t realize just how important it is to have ethics, especially in law. It can be hard to make decisions when you are influenced by everyone around you.”

Ubaka is also the event chair of “Kids and Cultures,” a volunteer program focused on encouraging children to become more enthusiastic about education. Ubaka hopes her time at the conference will help her develop leadership skills that will further her impact in this program.

Bartman, an Economics and Finance major, is the other student selected to attend the conference. Bartman works with the Center for Ethics and Public Services at the UM Law School. He said he hopes to bring ideas back from the conference to benefit the university.

Bartman also thinks the conference will aid his future career.

“I was contacted by the business school Office of Admissions and thought it would just be a great experience,” he said. “I am excited about the networking possibilities with all these prominent businessmen from around the country.”

Major Blake said that the students will stay in the Academy’s barracks and “spend three days thinking critically about subjects and learning to become leaders.” Also, Blake said students will be put into groups of twelve to speak with various mentors, such as “successful businessmen who realized the importance of ethics in one’s professional life.”

Blake is confident that Ubaka and Bartman will fit in well at the conference, noting “We knew UM was going to send students who would make a difference at their university.”

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