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Western Team Takes Top Honor at Daniels Fund Ethics Case Competition

Daniels Fund Ethics team members

The Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative

A team of graduate students from Western Colorado University’s School of Business took the top honor at the Southern Colorado Daniels Fund Ethics Case Competition for the second year in a row.

The intense two-week competition highlights the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative, which is based on eight principles: integrity, trust, accountability, transparency, fairness, respect, rule of law and viability. Teams are assigned a real-life scenario to solve, and Western’s team of graduate students from Western’s Outdoor Industry MBA program, Christina Bruno, Veronica Wilde and Abbigail Miller, won first place for their presentation.

“The graduate level ethics case study centered around unethical clinical trial practices by Roche Pharmaceuticals in Egypt,” Bruno said. “There was a lot of complexity surrounding the case that involved legal, ethical and financial considerations.”

The team was tasked to build the reputation of Roche in vaccine development with the success of their COVID-19 antibody test, despite the company’s history of violations. The team researched the company and applied not only the Daniel’s Principles, but biomedical ethics and other principles of human medical experimentation.

“Some of the strengths of our presentation, executive summary, action plan and other supporting documents were the extensive amounts of research we did to support our findings and action plan,” Bruno continued. “We were able look into financial records, fines, penalties, and put together a comprehensive plan that had a dollar amount attached to it that was reasonable.”

The Ethics Challenge

The Case Competition began in 2012 with the aim of exposing students to ethical decisions that they might encounter in their professional careers. The competition is judged on students’ ability to put self-interest aside and do what is right, instilling that ethical practices come from a constant foundation rather than a specific situation.

Students compete with teams from other Southern Colorado institutions and are asked to analyze, present and respond to questions by a panel of judges consisting of professionals and academics. This is Western’s fifth year competing in the Case Competition. Western Business Administration, Law Associate Professor Jeffrey Dykes, J.D., called the competition “intense.”

“The amount of work that the graduate students put in was phenomenal. Our undergraduate teams also did an outstanding job. Students really stretch themselves in this competition,” said Dykes. “Providing students with principle-based tools to help them make ethical business decisions is a critical component of business school education.”

Success Through Collaboration

Western’s two undergraduate teams consisted of Ellen Snare, Allison D’Ercole, and Shawna Dieckmann; and Brooke Long and Ekaterina Jaramillo. Western was supported in this effort by Daniels Fund Ethics Champions Jennifer DeBoer, Ph.D.; Jessica Laramie, JD; Michael Vieregge, Ph.D., and Dykes.

Graduate student Wilde said teamwork and collaboration—even through virtual platforms—were the key elements to the top prize.

“Overall, my largest take away was being able to connect with my colleagues and mentors throughout the project, and learn from one another,” Wilde said.


Author Credit: Chris Rourke
Photo Credit: Carley Clegg

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