History and Benefactors

The Gilliam Center was established in August 2007, after receiving a generous gift from Leslie ('82) and Richard Gilliam.

"My JMU degree has served me well in life, and Richard and I are happy to support JMU as a vital educational resource for today's young people. We are proud to partner with James Madison University's College of Business to empower tomorrow's business leaders to make the best possible decisions," Leslie Gilliam said.

Bob Kolodinsky, associate professor of management at JMU, directs the center and coordinates collaborative activities with other professors. Kolodinsky received a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Florida State University.

"One of the primary goals of the center is to raise student awareness of the implications of their own and others' behaviors and decisions, and the degree to which such actions have the potential to harm or benefit others," Kolodinsky said.

Robert Reid, former dean of JMU's College of Business, said some of the donated funds are in place to open the center in the 2007-08 academic year. While the center eventually will be a multi-faceted resource to provide research, service and curriculum development, initial efforts will focus on pairing qualified students with seasoned mentors and hosting nationally known speakers to talk about ethical leadership on campus. Reid said the center also would allow professors within the College of Business who have expertise in the areas of ethics and leadership to collaborate on curriculum development and research.

Such curriculum will build a framework for future decision- making as students enter the business world. "People don't get up and say 'I'm going to be unethical today.' They rationalize their decisions until they cross that line into unethical activity. A primary goal will be to ground students in good ethical, rational decision-making processes that they can rely on for the rest of their lives, so when the pressures come, they don't cut corners," Reid said.

Kolodinsky, who is passionate about teaching ethical leadership to future business leaders, said the college plans to "elevate the ethics discourse" in College of Business classes. Curriculum materials developed through the center will assist professors throughout the business college as they introduce ethical leadership topics with the goal of reaching all students with the message that effective business leaders are sensitive to others when making decisions in the workplace.

"The demands in today's competitive business environment focus primarily on meeting financial performance metrics. Because of this, workers typically are under constant pressure to do whatever it takes to meet those goals. Unfortunately, workers -particularly top managers whose rewards are linked directly to financial performance goals--often take actions that have an adverse impact on others," Kolodinsky said.

In the future the center will serve as a resource clearinghouse by providing an extensive library and an information-rich Web site that will include center publications, case studies, overviews of prominent work and thought in the areas of morality, ethics and leadership. Plans for the website include posting links to related news articles and other helpful sites.