Integrity Summit helps students, pure and simple
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
It’s only natural that a college named after Jerry Colangelo is built on integrity. But students in the Colangelo College of Business at Grand Canyon University don’t just hear that word a lot in the classroom — they also have the privilege of meeting community leaders who preach it and, more important, live it.
Eight CCOB students saw yet again what Colangelo is all about when they were guests Thursday at the sixth annual Integrity Summit, an event that’s the brainchild of – you guessed it – the Phoenix sports and business leader who says, “I went through 50 years in sports on a handshake.”
During 4½ extremely educational hours, 18 “Integrity Tigers” — including Colangelo, GCU President Brian Mueller and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton — talked about what integrity means to them and why they’re so committed to it. Incredibly, there was no overlap or repetition in such a consistent message.
The students noticed.
“The one thing that I think is really cool is that a lot of these speakers are from big companies,” Brittany Holen said. “We’re getting to see that there are companies out there that are focusing on integrity and that it’s a core value.
“Grand Canyon really does a good job of making sure every class covers something on ethics pertaining to that particular subject, and I know in conversations with different faculty members that integrity is something that’s focused on and definitely an ideal at GCU.”
Josh McGuire said the talks helped him because he someday wants to start his own company, and “this creates a diagram for the different qualities that you need for a company to be run with higher purpose and integrity.”
Colangelo had young people in mind when he got the idea for the event six years ago while on a trip to a college campus. During his talk there, he asked the students how many of them had ever cheated on a test and was stunned — and disappointed — when virtually everyone’s hand shot up. What’s happening in America today only furthers his resolve.
“Integrity would solve a lot of problems,” he told the audience.
Erik Olsson, president and CEO of Mobile Mini, the portable storage company, addressed cheating during his talk by first telling the story of how one of his employees fraudulently changed a driver’s log to get a shipment to a customer on time. The customer was delighted, but Olsson said that misses the point. The employee was fired.
He then shared the results of a survey of Rutgers University students asking whether they had cheated in the last year. The audience could select one of four choices for how many students said yes – 3%, 38%, 68% or 98%.
The answer: 98%.
That hit home with the GCU students.
“It’s relatable,” Chelsea Evans said. “It’s easy to just think that everyone else is doing it so it’s OK – but it’s not. I really liked it when my psychology instructor, Jennifer Jones, said during tests, ‘You can cheat if you want, but that’s something you’ll have to discuss with Jesus someday.’”
Catherine Xiong echoed that sentiment when she said, “As a Christian, integrity is an important trait that we all have to share. We have to be an influencer but also be able to face ourselves and not have any regrets.”
The other speaker who seemed to really hit home with the GCU students was Lisa Daniels, managing partner of KPMG, one of the country’s biggest auditors.
Daniels examined the reasons people lie on the job and suggested ways companies can support integrity, such as having open and honest communication, creating a culture that aims to serve a higher purpose, and striving for an environment that doesn’t make employees so afraid to make mistakes.
She underscored her point by telling of how, during a 30-day audit of her firm’s integrity, she caught herself telling exactly the type of “white lie” that was being audited.
Evans’ reaction: “It’s easy to look at yourself and say, ‘Yeah, I live with integrity, this is an important value to me,’ but those little lies that we all tell every day are compromising that. It’s something I want to work on starting today. Just be honest and have others respect you for that honesty rather than having lies you’re trying to cover up.”
Xiong said, “When I do projects at GCU, I need to be honest with my teammates about what I have done. I can’t just lie and say, ‘I’ve done this,’ if I haven’t done anything. That drags down the team’s efficiency. It all comes back to who I am and what values I bring and what values I stand firmly on.”
Mueller began his talk by noting how the derivative of the word “integrity” first was used by the Roman army to imply there were no divisions, and he then told the story of how his mother used to visit a nursing home regularly because she didn’t think it was right that anyone should be forgotten.
He said that memory inspired him to initiate GCU’s devotion to caring for the people in its neighborhood, adding, “For me, the definition of integrity is that there are no people who are forgotten.”
Dr. Randy Gibb, the CCOB dean, attended the Summit for the first time last year and knew right away that it was something he needed to share with students.
“They’re truly the ones who can benefit the most,” he said. “The students came up to me today afterward and were just so thankful because they met so many people and made so many great connections. Not only did they hear a lot and learn a lot, they actually met some people who could help them in their future career.”
Who knows? Maybe one of them will be an Integrity Summit speaker someday. Nothing could make Colangelo prouder.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.