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Franklin to launch ethics forum

Nov. 1, 2005

by MARISSA NEWMAN, reporter

Baylor's annual Business Ethics Forum will kick off today by none other than American business icon Benjamin Franklin himself.

The forum, focusing on ethical issues in the workplace, will feature speakers and events today through Friday.

Philadelphia's official Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Archbold, will portray Franklin at Baylor's presentation of "An Evening with Ben Franklin," which will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the Mayborn Museum Complex.

"I am from Philadelphia, and I have never had the opportunity to see the official Ben Franklin until now. Ten dollars is a small price to pay for that," Philadelphia junior Greg White said.

The annual ethics forum is usually presented with a common topic but not a theme. The entire forum this year will center on Franklin.

"First of all, I want students to learn about Benjamin Franklin and his contribution to business," said Dr. Don Schmeltekopf, coordinator of the business ethics forum and Chavanne professor of Christian ethics in business.

This is both because he is known as the founding father of American business and because the forum occurs near Franklin's 300th birthday, he said. Franklin's actual birthday is Jan. 17.

"Franklin had a practical approach to business ethics. ... He believed that employing ethical strategies added to the success of a businessman," Schmeltekopf said.

Archbold has been impersonating the famous inventor for more than 30 years.

Students attending the event will have the opportunity to take a picture with the official Franklin and enjoy colonial-style desserts.

One of Franklin's most prized inventions, the glass harmonica, will be played as a part of the night's entertainment.

"Ethics in accounting has become a hot topic lately, and I think it's important for students to have a plan of action before they are faced with real-life situations," Deer Park sophomore Casey Theis said.

Several speakers are lined up for the four-day event. Beginning the series today is John Bogle, founder of the Vanguard group. Bogle will speak on entrepreneurship at 3 p.m.

Peter Handal, CEO of Dale Carnegie and Associates, will speak at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, followed by J.A. Leo Lamay from the University of Delaware.

The first 200 students attending this forum in the Barfield Drawing Room will receive a free lunch along with the discussion titled "The Franklin Autobiography, American Business Culture and the Public Good."

On Thursday, members from the Better Business Bureau and major corporations will speak in business classes on campus.

This allows students who don't have the time to attend a lecture to benefit from the speakers brought in town for the forum.

"Baylor Business School wants to be known as a school that emphasizes ethics in the workplace," Schmeltekopf said.

He added that he would also like to see students from the Arts and Sciences College to attend as well, but the discussions and lectures are mainly geared toward business majors.

The forum's last day will include the senior vice president of HealthSouth Corporation, Judy Dean, who will speak at a free luncheon.

A roundtable session on integrity and financial reporting concerning the Sarbanes-Oxley Act will conclude the event.

The roundtable includes executives from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, SEC and XTO energy.

Tickets for the "An Evening with Benjamin Franklin" are $10 for students and $20 for the public. They can be purchased online at www.baylor.edu/businessethics.

All other sessions are free but have limited seating.

"Baylor students should leave this school as not just students of business but also practitioners," Schmeltekopf said.