College of Business

The 33rd Annual National Conference on Ethics in America

(L to R) Department Chair Marylou Shockley & sponsor representative Bill Cater with students Noelle Forgach, Amanda Mast, Carolanne Garibay, and Christopher Riggin

The 33rd Annual National Conference on Ethics in America (NCEA), hosted by the Simon Center for Professional Military Ethics (SCPME), was held at the United States Military Academy (USMA), West Point, NY, on February 13-14, 2018. The conference is part of the USMA Cadet Character Education Program (CCEP) and civilian students from universities across the country are invited to attend. Through the generous sponsorship of The Good Steward Charitable Fund, the College of Business was able to send four students to the two-day conference: Noelle Forgach, Carolanne Garibay, Amanda Mast, and Chris Riggin.

This year’s theme was “Moral Courage: Finding the Strength to Act.” Speakers included reformed extremist and co-founder of, Christian Picciolini; Olympic cyclist and champion of dope-free cycling, Scott Mercier; sexual assault awareness activists and co-founders of, Kelly Addington and Becca Tieder; diversity advocate and founder of The Moral Courage Project, Dr. Irshad Manji; and 17-year-old high school student and anti-bullying advocate, Trisha Prabhu.

The speakers delivered impactful messages designed to inspire and challenge USMA cadets and civilian students to have the moral courage to recognize and take action against injustice. College of Business students Noelle Forgach and Amanda Mast found Christian Picciolini the most impactful, noting that he took responsibility for the bad things he did and proved that transformation is possible. Carolanne Garibay appreciated the civil and productive discussions stimulated on sensitive issues addressed such as racism, sexual assault, and cyberbullying. She was inspired by Trisha Prabhu, creator of an anti-cyberbullying app, who challenged students to become change-agents regardless of your age, “There are injustices in this world… how can we create justice?”

Senior Chris Riggin, President of the Accounting Society and Associated Students Senator, found especially compelling Scott Mercier’s story about how refusing to use performance-enhancing drugs caused him to lose his spot on the U.S. Postal Olympic cycling team to Lance Armstrong. Chris said what he learned at the conference helped him speak out on issues as the student representative on the CSUMB Budget and Finance Committee.

When the students were asked about something meaningful from the conference they brought back to CSUMB, they agreed that it was the moral courage to ask questions and develop a desire to understand others’ perspectives before making a judgment. When faced with a controversial moral challenge or opposing view they will remember to respectfully ask questions like, “What am I missing?”, and “What can I learn from this person?”

Out of the 30+ institutions that sent a total of 178 students (60% military and 40% civilian) to the conference, CSUMB was the only one representing California. The students came away from the conference feeling empowered and equipped with the tools needed to show moral courage in their daily lives.

The conference dates have been shifted to the fall for the 2018-19 Academic Year. Senior BSBA students Alice Merchant and Brandon Baughn will have the honor of attending on Oct 16-17, 2018. The College of Business wishes to thank The Good Steward Charitable Fund for continuing to sponsor undergraduate students’ participation in this important conference.