New GWU president brings additional theme: Leadership ethics training to permeate simulations and classrooms

by admin on October 13, 2010


Leadership ethics will enrich curriculum as an added emphasis under President Schulthies.

Cedar City, Utah – In collaboration with the Board of Trustees, the new president of George Wythe University, Shane Schulthies, has developed a plan to infuse a preparatory foundation of leadership ethics training throughout the curriculum as an additional emphasis of the school. Implementation of this added preparation for students will characterize the theme of Schulthies’ tenure as president.

“The frequency at which leaders in all sectors self-destruct due to ethical lapses is alarming,” said Schulthies. “These tragedies don’t need to happen. By tying lessons in the classics to modern case studies and rigorous simulations, we can buffer students against the risks when they assume leadership positions later in their lives.”

Ten years ago, Schulthies chaired the Human Subjects Committee over BYU’s three campuses while serving on their faculty. This committee enforced ethical standards for all research involving human subjects. His experience scrutinizing proposals, holding researchers to accountability standards and training faculty to keep themselves in check inspired the GWU Board of Trustees to consider potential ways in which the principles and practices might be transferable for the benefit of GWU students.

“If your institutional mission is to plant and nurture the seeds of statesmanship, it’s impossible to over-prepare on this,” said Schulthies. “We intend to make it an overt characteristic of the school culture, from students and faculty through administration.”

“We’ve actually had a lot of discussion about the principles of ethics on the board over the last year,” said Curriculum Committee Chair Vicki Jo Anderson. “We’re particularly excited for the benefits this training will bring to students, and by extension to society.”

Rather than add a specific course in ethics, classes across the curriculum will probe more frequently into questions presenting ethical challenges for leaders, with many courses receiving additional case study readings, analysis, discussion and simulations throughout a student’s enrollment.

“We really want this ingrained in our graduates,” said Schulthies. “We want it to last a lifetime.”

Currently only two handbooks are required as universal supplements to GWU classes: a style manual for English composition and Robert’s Rules of Order. With this change, a third will be added which will serve as an anthology of case studies in ethics.

This handbook will be chosen from a list comprised of texts currently being used in Masters and Doctoral programs in Public Administration and Political Science across the country.

“We compared books from quite a few programs,” said Schulthies. “From Stanford, Princeton and Harvard to local institutions like BYU.”

The first screening narrowed the list to a dozen books. Three finalists will be tested this semester. Two of these, Ethics Moments in Government and Combating Corruption/Encouraging Ethics, are published by the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA). The third, Ethics for Adversaries is published by Princeton University Press.  A packet of readings will also be included that evolves over time by including new case studies from current events.

The school already implements a variety of simulations within the majority of courses as well as campus-wide competitions. These will be enhanced with the kinds of unforeseen ethical dilemmas typically faced by policymakers and business leaders, particularly the subtle traps that to lead to escalating compromises in integrity and destructive ends.

For illustrative purposes in mentoring and faculty training, Schulthies has also compiled a collection of ethical dilemmas faced by academic researchers during his years chairing the Human Subjects Committee. The first of these is introduced in the President’s Welcome Message on the school website.

“The classics in a liberal arts education already provide tremendous material for this kind of training” said Schulthies. “The difference will be in how we mentor, so that students can apply what they learn in modern times.”

Implementation of the new ethics emphasis will begin during Fall Semester, 2010.


Contact: Gary Arnell
Vice President of Administration
George Wythe University

About George Wythe University: George Wythe University is a non-profit classical liberal arts school created for the sole purpose of building statesmen for the 21st century. In addition to its main campus and extension programs in many states, it now offers live online virtual classrooms serving students anywhere in the world. GWU was founded on the principles and methods of classical liberal education in the Western Tradition. It was inspired by the example set by George Wythe, the first law professor in the American colonies, as he mentored Thomas Jefferson and other statesmen of his day. Other core elements of the methodology include scenario-based simulations and field experiences. GWU sets itself apart by seeking innovative and effective ways of applying the traditional principles of the classical approach in order to achieve its mission of preparing students for a lifetime of leadership. The school’s current main campus is located in Cedar City, Utah. For information visit:

“To build men and women of virtue, wisdom, diplomacy and courage, who inspire greatness in others and move the cause of liberty.” – GWU Mission Statement

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Tim Peak 10.13.10 at 10:24 pm

I have a question! What ever happened to Oliver DeMille and Shannon Brooks? Is George Wythe University the same or has it become something different. I have respect for Shane Schulthies, however, I don’t hear Oliver and Shannon’s names mentioned in conjunction with George Wythe any more. I am concerned about the original focus. Is it there? Good Luck, President Schulthies!

Gary Arnell 10.14.10 at 11:47 am


Thanks for stopping by and reading the announcement. If you browse the school website, you’ll notice that the Board of Trustees and administration are as committed as ever to the mission statement and original purpose of GWU. Indeed, the changes in policy over the last two years only strengthen it. Most importantly, the principles of a classical liberal arts education are timeless. From Adler and Hutchins back through George Wythe and John Witherspoon to Aristotle and Plato and even before — the focus remains unchanged and doesn’t depend on any of us individually. Our mission and purpose are defined in our governing documents, which is how they will be preserved for generations to come as well. This same timeless focus is what prompted this strengthening of our curriculum. I invite you sit in on one of our online classes and browse through our Board and faculty roster, I think you’ll be delighted with what you’ll find. Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.

Gary Arnell
(435) 586-6570

Nicholas Lawrence 10.14.10 at 12:04 pm

Great news! Good things will be coming out of GWU!

Keith 10.18.10 at 9:45 pm

Congrats President Shulthies,

Ethics is a big issue, but I fear it cannot be taught without injecting a study in human motive, and this itself cannot be injected through analytic discourse. Meaning, ethics is not something taught but something caught. Leaders lapse in poor ethics because we have lost the art in reading it socially. GWU has failed to catch a student’s motive in the moment and has thus inadvertently produced more vanity for leadership position that vision to add value. Read Earnest Becker’s The Denial of Death, Otto Rank’s Art and Artist, and Samuel Dael’s The Platonic Idiom. I am writing a book on this very subject and I do believe you are on the right path. In adding a new direction to GWU, I strongly suggest you think more oral tradition and less linear instruction.

Gary Arnell 10.22.10 at 11:25 am

Great points, Keith. Merely teaching ethics is inadequate, and indeed, it must be “caught.” Among our most powerful tools for “catching” it will be numerous ethics simulations spread over a student’s entire four years, and definitely with a probing analysis into human motives. Our goal is to help students understand the genuine value of the procedures that protect integrity, and to likewise develop the habit of greater introspection into themselves and into others. Indeed, ethics derives from the Greek word ethos, meaning “habit,” which frequent and varied simulations will help to establish. As for the question of tempering the natural risk for vanity as a vulnerability of leadership, this is a crucial issue we are placing more emphasis on now as well, beginning in faculty training. I believe you will find our recent revision of this page on our website to be encouraging.

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