Higher Education in Focus – Civility and Ethics

Higher Education in Focus – Civility and Ethics

September 2, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski


>>Support for “Higher Education
in Focus”
comes from the Penn State Alumni Association, serving alumni and alma mater
for 145
years, on the web at alumni.psu.edu. Penn State Bookstore, improving
the
student experience at Penn State with philanthropic support of
student
causes throughout the university, on the HUB lawn or at
psu.bncollege.com. The attorneys of McNees Wallace
& Nurick, your
mission, your goal, your lawyers, more at mwn.com. And from viewers like you. Thank you. [ Music ]>>Welcome to “Higher Education
in Focus.” I’m Patty Satalia with my
co-host,
Penn State President Eric Barron. The Penn State community
recently received a
message from its leadership about civility. The letter mentioned that every
university faces times where
differences of opinion can lead to
incivility. It went on to state that
reasonable
people disagree but we can disagree without
sacrificing respect. While Penn State issued this
letter, many other university also
issued
their own pleas for civility. Why now? And who determines
civil or polite behavior? Joining us to discuss this issue
is
Dr. Tom Hogan, Professor of Practice and Human Resource Management in
the school of
Labor and Employment Relations at Penn State. Among other things, Dr. Hogan’s
research and
teaching interest include business ethics and corporate social
responsibility. Thank you so much for joining
us.>>Thank you for having me.>>A number of universities,
from Penn State to
Ohio University, to the University of California at Berkeley have all recently
issued
statements calling for civility on campus. I’ll begin with you, Dr. Barron,
what’s behind these civility
pleas? Why now?>>Well, I think, you know,
individual
universities may be different but it’s kind of an accumulation of behaviors
where
you’re watching someone proposed as a commencement speaker and
then you
basically hear that there will be protests and the individual gets
disinvited. Or you discover that here is a
football
player and he drops a pass and the tweets that you get would blister your
ears and
don’t seem to quite match up with the fact that you just dropped the pass
to — in our
case, an election on a board of our trustees where the individual said that
they were really
surprised and disheartened at how awful some of the things that were said
to them about their position. So I think it’s a whole group
of behavior, but for one reason or another, they seem like
they’re growing.>>What’s been the reaction to
the civility
plea that you and Penn State leadership issued?>>Well, all over the map, I
would say
overwhelmingly very positive, thank you. Every once a while someone
coming up
to me and saying, you know, I was — I’ve been quite uncivil, and
you’re right, I
don’t need to do that in order to get my point across to — I know you’re
talking about me. And I was done wrong. Someone was done wrong and I
will be uncivil –>>If I want to be.>>If I want to be, which
of course is their right. To every kind of topic you can
imagine, like for
instance, yes, I know we have trouble talking about global warming and we
really should do a better job. So it was really all over the
map. It was — I read the first 400
emails.>>Dr. Hogan, who decides what
is civil behavior?>>Well, I think when we’re
talking about civil behavior, you have to talk about what
community you’re talking about. There are a variety of
communities,
the family unit. Are we talking about a
university community? Are we talking about a nation? So I think you have to start
there. Obviously, with the family unit,
it’s the
parents that are teaching their children values and what is a civil behavior,
what is expected of them. For a university, we have
a variety of stakeholders. We have the leadership team, we
have faculty,
we have staff, we have students, we have alums. And I think civil behavior is
defining it and
establishing it is a collaborative process. And I think it needs to involve
all of those
key stakeholders in coming to some understanding and agreement of what is
expected
behavior of those in the community. So I think it’s a collaborative
process, but I
think the lead, the leadership team must lead.>>And can you tell whether it’s
civil or uncivil? Is there –>>Well, I think it’s an
interesting
thing, what is civil and what is uncivil. I talked to my students about
that
and a lot of people give examples. For instance of student faculty
interaction, and
we talk about the younger generation in terms of we’re a digitally connected
world and the texting, and students talking while
faculty are
talking, teaching in the classroom, being late. Then students talk about faculty
behavior
because they have a different view, a different perspective and I
think that’s
part of this whole idea of civility. It’s being respectful,
respecting ourselves,
respecting others and being tolerant of different perspectives and
point of views. Our students here have a
different
perspective on what is acceptable and what is not acceptable
behavior. But I study a lot of
organizations, I study
leaderships, I study multinational corporations, and so that would be the
workplace,
that community. It’s up to that community led by
the
leadership team to establish what are the values of that organization and what
will be accepted,
what will be recognized, what will be rewarded. So it’s a collaborative effort
and I think
the community decides, leadership leads.>>It’s interesting because
you talked about rewarding. And the reality seems to be that
we value
civility but we often reward rudeness. Take for example someone who
does some of
the things you mentioned earlier, you know, booing or those sorts of things,
they often get a lot of applause and sometimes become the hero in
their community.>>Well, I think it’s
interesting because here
at the university we are a microcosm of society, and so we’re influenced by other
forces. I think as a way to
differentiate
ourselves, we see, for instance in the political
arena, these kind of behaviors. Politics has become very
partisan. It appears to be a zero sum
game,
someone has to lose, someone has to win. And so as a way to gain support,
financial
and otherwise, we see people taking positions, sometimes hard positions,
sometimes positions
and behaviors that we would consider not civil, I think to differentiate
themselves from others.>>Well, and then, you know, it
becomes an interesting
phenomenon, because I can see that the two
of us would
run against each other in that campaign and I — or I would run against
a party. And I could say all sorts of
obnoxious things
but then after the election I’m going to come in the door and hope to work
with you.>>And that’s –>>Does that work?>>Well, I don’t think very well
and I
think right now I just heard a report on the way over here about the
congress. I think it’s very difficult that
after a campaign that’s
characterized by attack ads where you’re doing
–>>Mudslinging.>>Mudslinging, character
assassination,
it’s really difficult to reach across the aisle afterwards and
to
come together in a bipartisan way to pass some legislation or to
address. I mean, people remember we have
memories and I think it’s very
difficult. And I think you see that
reflected
in the congress right now.>>But does that behavior
influence
the way the rest of us behave? In other words, if politicians
behave badly or if
members of the board of trustees behave poorly, does that reflect how — or
influence how we’ll behave?>>I believe it does. And I believe when people see
behavior and
where media broadcast that kind of behavior, we may begin to believe that
that’s acceptable behavior. And so clearly I think when we
see this kind of behaviors
occur, we need to hold people
accountable for
their behaviors and we need to be very clear on what’s accepted and what’s
not acceptable. And it’s very difficult in a
very diverse society
where you have — people are very different, come from different backgrounds,
different views, different
values but yet, I would say that the reason why
values
are important, the reason why civility, things like mutual respect and
tolerance are so
important is so that we can interact together, live together in community
successfully
and so that’s why it’s important.>>We’ll, Dr. Barron, the Ohio
University,
School of Nursing actually spells out, they define civility in their
nursing student civility
contract. Civility is behavior that, one,
shows respect toward another;
two, causes another to feel valued;
three, contributes to mutual
respect, effective communication and team
collaboration. And so I wonder, does Penn State
or
do all universities need a policy, a civility policy, or is this
more about awareness?>>Well, I suspect it’s more
about awareness. The interesting thing about it
is, is that I would
place my definition of civility more in the line of promoting free speech and
promoting the
discourse, and when it moves to the point where actually you’re stifling
free speech.>>And of course, you know,
that’s
the argument among any people.>>It is. It is. Well, civility is a code work. It’s been used in enough times
and
places for people to sit there and say, he or she is trying to make me
quiet. But in fact, I think you’re
seeing over and
over again whether a group gets shouted down or protested down or is attacked
to a
point in a way that is sufficiently unkind or without respect or however
you want to say it. They didn’t actually causes them
to pull back.>>So some say that the civility
that you’re
talking about is a prerequisite to free speech. Others say that it is this
attempt to squelch free speech.>>Yeah. I think I’m a big free
speech advocate. I will defend anybody’s right to
say
anything however obnoxious it is. I would like to see people push
back. I would like people to sit there
and say
no, no you actually ruined your argument. When you said it that way, you
know, 10,000
people ran to the other corner and they don’t want to listen to you anymore, is my
view.>>Well, I think I’m a huge
advocate for freedom of speech. It’s a cherished value in this
country. It’s interesting though, when
you look at the first amendment that all speech is not protected
speech. So where you have speech that
jeopardizes the
common good, which is another factor of civility, for instance, recently, an
article,
a newspaper about someone yelling that they had Ebola and they
were on a plane. That person was arrested. That is inappropriate speech. There are lines, the old example
they would
give would be yelling fire in a crowded theater, so we can just update that now
to the
current crisis that we’re dealing with. So there are limits to free
speech. I’m an advocate of free speech
and I think
sometimes people feel that when leadership tries to talk about civility, that
frequently
there’s an attempt to control a conversation, to silence dissent, to silence
the critics. And so, we just have to be
careful
about how we position this topic. But I think most people want to
feel respected. And one of the things that I
study is I look at
organizations. I’m very interested in human
capital, development
and leadership and certain buzzwords jump out anytime you talk to leaders
of organizations. They are interested in things
like how
can I improve productivity, how can –>>And of course if it’s an
incivil workplace,
there are studies that show that thousands of people are leaving the
workplace
not necessarily saying the problem at my workplace was incivility
but that’s why I’ve left.>>Well, yes, because think
about
this, if you don’t feel respected, if you don’t feel that you’re a
valuable
member of the team, you don’t get engagement. When you don’t have employee
engagement, you don’t get
creativity. If you don’t have creativity,
you don’t get
innovation and you don’t get productivity. So there’s an interlocking here. It all begins with how you
are viewed as an individual. Am I a trusted valuable member
of the team, how you feel about the
organization
that you’re a part of.>>Well, the interesting thing
is
that we so often seem to be concerned about how our employees treat
the
customer, treat them with civility. But it seems — and correct me
if I’m wrong, that there’s less attention paid
to how we treat our colleagues.>>Well, your point, Patty, is a
good one. I think the first customer is
the employee. You have to demonstrate what
expected behavior looks like. We want to excite our clients
and our customers
but first, we must excite our employees. We must share with them and
demonstrate what
excellent customer service looks like so that when they’re interfacing
with the external customer that they have seen it, they
know what it looks like. And so, I think that’s very
important in organizations.>>You know, one of the things
I’m keenly
interested in is, is this behavior changing and is it related to the fact
that we’ve developed
a digital world in which you can be anonymous because so much of the things
that strike me as
being very negative, you’re reading as a post or a tweet or — and then, that
makes me wonder
is this leaking into our everyday behavior? Are there studies that suggest
that the
civility of our country is changing?>>Well, if we look at this from
a macro
perspective, I believe that change is a constant. Some experts say that change is
accelerating. So we should expect that over
time, values
are going to change and the definition of what civility means to new
generations is going to be
different. It’s very interesting. If we think about social media
and how that impacts us, I do not believe that social
media is the
cause for increase acts of incivility. I believe it’s a contributing
factor but it is not the cause. Here is what I would argue, I
would
argue that prior to the internet, we had things like bullying,
character
assassination, gossiping going on, way before the internet was
every created. That’s about human beings,
that’s about us and our
behavior. The internet and social media is
a very
efficient and effective enabler of that occurring and so, I see technology as an
enabler. It is the people behind the
technology,
the users that should be held accountable. And yes, when people see acts of
incivility on TV and the media, post and the like that they may
interpret
it that that’s acceptable behavior.>>The cofounder of the civility
initiative at Johns Hopkins
University, which is more than 15 years
old, which surprised me. He says that we are today, both
ruder
and more civil than in times gone by. And what he meant by that, and
he used
this as an example, a pregnant woman. And he said, today, if she got
on to a bus, people
probably wouldn’t stand up and give her their seat but in the workplace, she’s
treated with respect. I thought that was interesting. He also went on to say that part
of —
you were talking about the internet, but the other part that’s
fueling this
incivility, he says, is this radical informality. We don’t call people mister,
we’re on a first name
basis, dress down Friday is every day of the week. Do you think these things,
Dr. Barron, contribute to it?>>You know, maybe. I don’t know. I’ve heard so many things but
maybe it’s by virtue of
position. I’ve heard so many things that I
haven’t ever
heard people say out loud to someone’s face. And so, I worried that there’s
an anonymous
component here that contributes to this, as well as a facility component
that it makes
us very efficient that if I’m a rude person, I now have a wonderful
opportunity to do it
with abandon and perhaps get a lot of attention. But some of the things that
I’m reading, I would — my jaw would drop if I were
sitting
in a public setting and I looked at you and it came out of your
mouth. So I don’t know. There are maybe more than
one component here I think.>>Let me share a story with
you regarding informality. So, I was in my classroom,
teaching. Class is over. My students are leaving. Students from the next class
start to come in. I’m gathering my papers up to
leave. A tall white gangly student
comes in and says, “hey
brother.” Now, I could have been offended
but I’m a faculty member. My job is to be a role model to
understand
that students are spreading their wings. They’re experimenting. They’re trying new things. My response was, “its doctor,
brother.” So it’s using humor to teach. But that’s an example of the
informality, and I
would argue that that is not appropriate behavior but we have to teach our
students
what is appropriate and what is not. And that changes depending on
the
community that you’re talking about. So I like to say that key
capabilities for
our students to thrive in the workplace is to be adaptable, to be flexible
and resilient,
and part of that is having the skill set of knowing what is appropriate
behavior in certain
communities, what is not and when they move into another community being
aware
and being able to make the transition.>>And on that note, we’re out
of time but really fascinating. Thanks so much for talking with
us Tom
Hogan, who is a Professor of Practice in Human Resource Management at
Penn State. In just a moment, I’ll talk one
on one with President Barron about the six major topic areas
he’s been working
to address this year and the new natural gas and petroleum program at Penn
State. We’ll be right back. [ Music ] We’re back with Penn State
President, Dr. Eric Barron. In May, you announced six majors
areas that you
want to focus on as president of Penn State. These are things that were
driven by
national conversations and are focused on making Penn State an
excellent university. You’ve introduced two of them so
far. Can you tell us something about
what they
are and where you are in achievement?>>Sure. The first one I
introduced was access and
affordability, student access and affordability. And part of the key there is
that we
tend to focus on a tuition increase when we really should be
focusing on making
sure everybody graduates in a timely fashion. Doing that means that the money
you’ve
paid creates opportunities for jobs and you’re not borrowing too
much money in the process. So, already we’ve put together
quite a team of
people and outlined about fifteen different topics of ways in which we can save
student’s money on
their way to getting their degree and to make sure that people don’t borrow too
much in the process. So, I think we’re going to
see some real successes there. A second topic was economic
development and student career
success and we’ve got about a twenty
point plan. We’re beginning to do portions
of it to help promote innovation and taking ideas to the
marketplace. It’s also the focus of our
request to the
Pennsylvania legislature and governor. Instead of putting our handout,
we’re saying, help us do more to drive the
economy of the common wealth.>>Well, speaking of doing more,
on September
24th, GE announced that it will invest up to $10 million in Penn State
to establish what
it calls the Center for Collaborative Research on Intelligent Natural Gas
Supply Systems. What does this mean for Penn
State?>>OK, so this is just a perfect
example
because this is a case where our capabilities and the skill and knowledge of
our faculty
in collaboration with a major company and an important company, is
able to work to do
things more efficiently and more effectively. And at the very same time,
you’re educating your
students in what’s really state of the science. And when you educate students in
the state of the
science and you’re promoting these developments and corporations do these
partnerships, then
you’re enabling your students to be placed right into those jobs that are being
created by
these new technologies and new processes. So it’s a very exciting endeavor
and I hope
we get to announce a lot of things like that.>>”US News and World Report”
released
its 2015 best colleges rankings and Penn State ranked 14th among
national public universities and it ranked 48th overall among
public and private institutions. There are some who say that this
ranking is fun and it’s interesting but it
doesn’t mean that much. I’m wondering what you think of
them.>>OK, so I think within the
rankings, there
are a lot of things that are very important. I mean it’s very important to me
that our students are
graduating. It’s very important to me that
our students
are graduating despite what they look like or despite what their economic
background is like. So there are a lot of metrics I
would say that are
valuable that we need to be paying attention to. There are some maybe a little
less valuable, how
much money do you spend per student as opposed to how efficiently do you spend
that money, money per student. OK, so, often administrators
pick and choose. If you step back and say what’s
important,
you discovered that particularly, families and students that are
bright and are
very likely to be successful, the number one thing that we look at is rankings of
the university. And we know also that –>>So, it’s important to the
public
and their perception of the university?>>It’s important to the public
and also to
employers who discover over and over again that it’s easier to be employed
out of a top ranked university than it is to be employed for
one thats not.>>With just a couple of
seconds, can
you comment on the fact that enrollment at Penn State is actually up,
not just
here at the University Park campus but also throughout the
commonwealth system.>>Everything you look at at
this
university suggests excellence. The rank does, the amount of
research funding, and
I think this is a great source of jobs, wonderful, that’s why the numbers should go
up.>>All right. On that note, we are out of
time. For this episode of “Higher
Education in Focus,”
thank you so much to our guest Tom Hogan, Professor of Practice in Human
Resource Management at Penn
State. With Penn State President, Dr.
Eric Barron, I’m Patty Satalia. For all of us here at Penn State
Public Media, thanks for joining
us. [ Music ]>>Support for “Higher Education
in Focus”
comes from the Penn State Alumni Association, serving alumni and alma mater
for 145
years, on the web at alumni.psu.edu. Penn State Bookstore, improving
the
student experience at Penn State with philanthropic support of
student
causes throughout the university, on the HUB lawn or at
psu.bncollege.com. The attorneys of McNees Wallace
& Nurick, your
mission, your goal, your lawyers, more at mwn.com. And from viewers like you. Thank you.