ETHICAL DECITIN MAKING IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Educational institutions are composed of at least three separate yet inter-related constituencies involved in ethical decision making processes: administrators, faculty and students. This paper explores the ethical responsibilities and decision-making processes of each of these constituencies and evaluates the impact of ethical and unethical decisions on the functioning of a higher education institution. Specifically, the paper explores particular case studies of situations that give rise to ethical decision making in higher education settings in light of published statements of the ethical standards and moral principles that should guide institutionalized behavior in such settings. The paper concludes that ultimately administrators are in the best position, and have the obligation, to set the ethical standards and moral principles that will guide all decision-making processes across the institution.
In 1998, 48 percent of business school deans who responded to an ethics survey admitted that they would admit a clearly unqualified student to their school if the candidate's family donated $1 million. In addition, 37 percent of the deans also admitted that they would help a donor get an improper tax deduction by backdating a $500,000 gift to their school (Fairclough, 1998, A8). Both of the above situations clearly raise ethical concerns. Arguably, the deans' responses in favor of accepting the donations demonstrates unethical behavior at the highest level of education administration.
Although the terms "ethical standards" and "moral principles" are often cited interchangeably, they are not in fact the same. Ethical standards are the practical applications of moral principles. Thus, the value or belief is the moral principle and the action based on that moral or belief is the ethical behavior. Moral principles can only begin with people, with individuals who believe in the valu...