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Samford Announces Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership

Posted by Kara Kennedy on 2008-02-19

Samford has announced the creation of the Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership, including an endowed professorship. The Feb. 19 announcement came during a week-long celebration of the recent naming of Samford's Brock School of Business, where the center will be housed. The center will "better equip students, faculty and the business community with the knowledge, skills and commitment required to foster good citizenship, corporate social responsibility and moral leadership," according to Samford President Andrew Westmoreland, who made the announcement on behalf of the university's board of trustees.

Samford officials also announced that John C. Knapp will be appointed as the Mann Family Professor of Ethics and Leadership and first director of the Mann Center. Knapp currently is director of the Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

At a university-hosted news conference, Westmoreland said the Mann Center was established to honor Samford alumnus Marvin Mann's late wife, Frances Marlin Mann.

"It is through their visionary leadership, longtime commitments to Samford and the Brock School of Business, and a substantial financial commitment that we have established the center and the new faculty position," Westmoreland said. He also noted that more than 50 friends of the Manns had made contributions to the project in memory of Mrs. Mann.

"Marvin Mann has been a visionary, entrepreneurial business leader during his long and distinguished career," Westmoreland said. "It is fitting that we have a center at his alma mater that reflects his approach to business, family and faith, and that honors his beautiful wife and life partner Frances for her lifelong commitment to ethics and morality and for her support of his endeavors."

Mann, a 1954 Samford graduate, is chairman emeritus and former CEO of Lexmark International, Inc., and a long-time supporter of Samford and the Brock School of Business. Earlier he was an IBM vice president and served as chairman of the independent trustees for the more than 300 Fidelity Mural Funds. Mann was honored by Samford in 2004 as an alumnus of the year and received an honorary doctorate in commerce from the university in 1993.

The center is named for Frances Marlin Mann, Marvin's late wife of 54 years, who died in September 2007. She was a native of Birmingham and was very involved with community and church activities when the Manns lived in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Connecticut.

"Frances was a gracious and caring person," Mann said. "She was a fun-loving person who was an unusually talented and creative homemaker. She had a positive impact on everyone who knew her, and she left the world a more beautiful place."

The Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership will serve as a resource for students, faculty and the business community, according to Dean Beck A. Taylor of the Brock School of Business. One of the first initiatives will be to create a multi-disciplinary faculty committee to help coordinate university-wide ethics and leadership education. The Mann Center's library eventually will maintain teaching, training and reference materials to assist faculty, students and other business and campus leaders in their efforts to promote ethics and leadership.

Although the Mann Center will be housed in the Brock School of Business, Westmoreland noted that it will be positioned as a center of learning for the entire university in an effort to strengthen ethics and leadership education throughout the university's curricula and programs. Knapp also will carry the title University Professor to reflect the university-wide emphasis on ethics education.

"Teaching students how to succeed in the world of business is no longer enough," Mann said. "They must also enter their careers with a complete understanding of the connections between performance, ethics and leadership."

As the first Mann Center director, Knapp will work closely with the business school dean and faculty, as well as the broader university community, to outline specific programs the center will offer.

"John Knapp was instrumental in the development of programs at the Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility at Georgia State University," Taylor said, "and he brings to Samford vast experience in consulting with business and other leaders to shape thinking on ethics practice and standards. We are fortunate to have him at Samford to further develop and lead this important initiative."

Knapp addressed Samford students and faculty in January about renewing the promise of higher education and hits role in establishing a community of moral purpose. He told listeners about his collaboration with presidents of U.S. and British universities to develop a declaration of beliefs and principles aimed at reclaiming higher education's commitment to producing good citizens and moral leaders. These initiatives are now being used by universities throughout the world, he noted.

"Many universities today are striving for what Samford has achieved," Knapp said. "It is a place where quality teaching and meaningful scholarship are inseparable from a shared commitment to the moral and spiritual formation of every student. The new center will contribute to the vitality of this commitment across the Samford community."

The Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership also will provide educational opportunities to encourage interaction among practitioners, scholars and students.

"Our goals for the new Mann Center include faculty development seminars that will train our instructors on how to infuse the curriculum with opportunities to practice ethical reasoning," Taylor said. "We also want to become a resource for our community to initiate dialogue about ethics and moral leadership among all entities for whom these issues are most salient."

Samford University, now in its 167th year, is Alabama's largest independent university, with more than 4,400 undergraduate and graduate students. The naming of the Brock School of Business in December 2007 was the latest in a long history of business education achievements at Samford, which has offered degrees in business since 1922. The business school was fully accredited in 1999 by the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business International, a recognition earned by less than 10 percent of business schools worldwide."

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