Seminar focuses on character and politics

Huntington, Ind.— Huntington College’s next Visiting Executive Seminar will be held on Friday, October 13, from 8:45 a.m. to 12:00 noon, in the upper level of the Habecker Dining Commons. The seminar will be led by Jim O'Donnell, associate professor of business and executive-in-residence, and Ned Kiser, vice president for advancement.

The discussion will center on “leadership and character,” and whether a person’s character and personal decisions in private life matter in our consideration of him or her for high, elected office.

“For many of us coming from religious backgrounds and with active church connections, this may seem like a silly question,” says O’Donnell. “Yet, in the larger, secular world, the majority is deeply divided over whether a good leader needs ‘good private character.’ Many, in fact, would argue strongly about what is ‘good character’ anyway. In actuality, is there really any such concept? Large numbers of people sincerely (even if I would add, naively) believe that personal behavior is an individual’s own business and is not controlling or indicative of suitability for leadership in the public realm. While I have not been persuaded that such arguments are correct, I think these arguments, when well-stated, might be worth looking at in this presidential election year.”

“At first glance, our topic may not seem to bear directly on the world of business, which is typically what we tackle in these Visiting Executive Seminars,” O’Donnell adds. “But I believe the same set of ‘character suitability’ issues and questions we would consider in choosing a president are also applicable in the selection of a CEO, a business partner or an employer.”

The Visiting Executive Seminar will be attended by business and civic leaders from the regional community, as well as Huntington College faculty, staff, and students. The event will be structured to foster open dialogue and discussion of the issues and recent case studies. O’Donnell says the give-and-take format will “help our attending students, who are ‘leaders-in-formation,’ to wrestle with these issues in their own lives and future career decisions.”

Huntington College is a top-ranked, four-year, Christian college of the liberal arts. Founded in 1897, Huntington offers graduate and undergraduate degrees in nearly 50 academic concentrations.

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