Ethics were the order of the day Wednesday, Sept. 19 as former UVSC president Dr. Kerry D. Romesburg received the 2012 Excellence in Ethics Award from UVU President Matthew Holland in the library auditorium.
The crowd rose to their feet as Holland presented the award recognizing Dr. Romesburg’scommitment to ethics at the community level. The award was part of the 25th annual Ethics Awareness Week, hosted by the Center for the Study of Ethics.
“I am so honored to join a list of distinguished honorees,” said Romesburg, current president of Jacksonville University, said. “It means so much to me because [the award] is coming from this institution, an institution that I just love.”
Dr. Romesburg, who served as president of then Utah Valley State College from 1988 to 2002, addressed a full auditorium in a 30-minute lecture on the state of ethical leadership practices, taking special note of concerns among higher education officials.
“I’m just going to touch on one case, and I only do this because it’s a lot more personal to me,” Romesburg said. “It’s recent, it’s tragic and it involves a man that I had worked with particularly in the NCAA for many years—a man I have known for many years, the president of Penn State
In August 2011, Dr. Romesburg was invited to attend the National Collegiate Athletic Association Presidential Retreat in Indianapolis. Former Pennsylvania State University President Graham Spanier, who was forced to resign in November 2011 after the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse
scandal, was also scheduled to attend the retreat.
“I just have to tell you, I cannot understand what happened at Penn State, and the alleged decisions that were made in dealing with the football program,” Dr. Romesburg said. “I don’t know how decisions were made that were so misguided and so corrupt.”
Romesburg said he worries that our society has lost its focus on leadership and what it should entail. In what he described as a really disturbing trend, he said that bipartisanship has deeply divided the country, especially within the last 10 years.
Speaking on students pursuing leadership positions, Dr. Romesburg said that leaders need to establish an atmosphere of mutual trust with their followers.
“Clearly, the leader has to have character, they have to have that integrity that we demand and want in our leaders. That’s fundamental, but if in leading they lead through coercion or in some way take advantage of those being led, then in my contention, that is not ethical leadership.”
Bradley Clarke, a culinary arts major at Utah State University and intern with the UVU Athletics department, said Dr. Romesburg’s words struck a chord with him personally.
“As I listened to what he said here [at UVU] today, there is such a need for ethical leadership, because anybody can lead, but how you lead and what you stand for are totally different,” Clarke said. “It’s these out-of-class discussions that make it more real. I know there’s an issue with the
way leadership is and isn’t.”
Holland said Romesberg dealt with the Utah State legislature, the Board of Regents and set the architecture of the institution that ultimately led to the culmination of the school as a university
“I’m a great beneficiary of Kerry Romesberg’s leadership, I’m very grateful to him,” Holland said. “But much of the job of the President is to get the credit and blame for things you didn’t do. And certainly I’ve gotten lots of the credit for things I didn’t really do and much of it that Kerry
Holland credited Dr. Romesberg for establishing the first three bachelor’s degrees at UVU, leading to a total of 14 four-year degrees overall during his time as president.
Kerry D. Romesberg holds a doctorate in higher education administration from Arizona State University, as well as a master’s and bachelor’s degree in mathematics education.
*Note: The original publication of this article misstated the year that Dr. Kerry Romesburg served as President of UVSC. It was 1988, not 1998.