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Inaugural Executive Ethics Symposium Debates Strategic Mortgage Defaults

John P. Lewis at the Executive Ethics Symposium.
John P. Lewis, president and CEO of Southern
Arizona Community Bank, addresses participants
at the Executive Ethics Symposium.

By Liz Warren-Pederson

A panel of leaders gathered at the UA August 20 to hash out ethical issues involved in strategic mortgage default, in the Eller College’s inaugural Executive Ethics Symposium.

UA Associate Professor of Law Brent T. White — who received broad coverage in the media for arguing that it might make sense for homeowners who are underwater to walk away from their mortgages — was joined by leaders from banking, real estate, and community advocacy in a lively conversation with about 75 participants.

“I was honored to participate in the first Ethics Symposium,” said panelist Rosey Koberlein, CEO of Long Companies. “Professor White’s papers on strategic defaults have stirred a necessary dialogue for this current day economic market. Elevating the issue to a moral vs. immoral action has stirred many emotions and value systems within all of us.”

“We had a great cross-section of interests,” said Paul Melendez, EthicsPoint Distinguished Lecturer in Business Ethics and head of the Eller Ethics Program. “This was a great opportunity for stakeholders to come together and discuss a hot button topic without being on the hook.”

“Although controversial, it is an important and timely issue and the Eller College is to be commended for creating an environment where constructive dialogue could take place,” added panelist Bill Holmes, VP/Community Relations Manager with Wells Fargo.

The Executive Ethics Symposium is a project of the Eller College Ethics Program and was coordinated in conjunction with the UA chapter of Net Impact, an MBA organization focused on changing the world through business.

Participants at the Executive Ethics Symposium.
The inaugural Executive Ethics Symposium drew a
full house.

“I commend the University for the bravery to look at all sides of this issue and allowing the process to unfold,” Koberlein continued. “I am hopeful that we may have helped some attendees to clarify their position and may have been helpful to evaluate all of the issues in determining their families’ future consequences.”

“Thanks to the generous corporate sponsorship, the expert panel, and the diverse participants, the Executive Ethics Symposium was an unqualified success,” Melendez said. “Providing the opportunity to leaders from all sectors of Southern Arizona to critically and carefully consider the myriad issues surrounding a strategic default was timely and well received. This year’s Executive Ethics Symposium is just the first of many provocative programs to follow in the coming years.”

Participants included:

The event was sponsored by Wells Fargo and EthicsPoint.

Learn more about executive ethics and non-degree executive programs at the Eller College of Management.

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