In the ever-evolving landscape of business, one fundamental aspect has remained constant: the importance of ethical decision-making. For nearly two decades, the University of Northern Iowa's College of Business has championed ethics for future business leaders, thanks to the establishment of the David W. Wilson Chair in Ethics. This gift from UNI alum David W. Wilson has not only enriched the academic environment but has also had a profound impact on the way students and faculty approach ethics in the world of business.

Wilson, recognized the pivotal role that ethics plays in decision-making, both in life and in the corporate world. As the president and owner of one of the largest privately owned automotive groups in the nation, he attributes much of his success to a commitment to ethical values. In 1999, he established the David W. Wilson Chair in Ethics, propelling ethics into the forefront of teaching and research.

The ethics chair’s mission encapsulates a commitment to nurturing ethical student leaders and shaping future business leaders through program development, faculty support, business community involvement and student engagement. Since its inception, the chair has been a catalyst for a wide range of initiatives and activities aimed at promoting ethical behavior in the world of business. 

‌"My first meeting with David Wilson left me with a huge, positive impression,” said Bill Greer, who was the dean of the College of Business when the David W. Wilson Chair in Ethics was established. “He had reached out to UNI about making a substantial donation, so I traveled to California to meet with him. Our conversation included a great talk about our shared love of cars and airplanes, among other things. It was obvious that David was an intelligent, ambitious young man who was passionate about the role ethics played in his success. Then, he got right down to business. In a short time, we left for home with his commitment to establish the Wilson Ethics Chair and the first installment of his $1M gift in hand. I want to thank David for trusting the College of Business to support his vision for ethics education."

Willis "Bill" Greer

The impact of this chaired position has been profound. Not only did it mark the first million-dollar donation ever received by the UNI College of Business, but it also paved the way for the establishment of two additional chairs and numerous named faculty positions. Currently held by Russell Guay, PhD, the David W. Wilson Ethics Chair has played a pivotal role in fostering a culture of ethical awareness and responsibility.

Throughout the year, the College of Business hosts numerous ethics-focused events, including salary negotiation workshops, ethics case competitions, ethics movie nights and business community ethics panels. These events not only educate students but offer them the possibility to interact with real-world moral dilemmas, preparing them to make sound ethical decisions in their future careers.

"I've seen students undergo a transformation and really think critically about the decisions they make and dilemmas they face,” said Guay. “The impact of ethics education is evident in their commitment to upholding ethical standards in both their professional and personal lives. These students are the embodiment of positive change, a testament to the enduring influence of ethics education."

Guay at ethics event

One of the most impressive components of the David W. Wilson Ethics Chair activities is the opportunity to encourage college students to take the Ethics Pledge, a dedication to uphold the ethical standards of their profession and in their personal lives. This easy but effective act symbolizes the iconic impact of Wilson's investment, which keeps resonating inside the university and the broader network.

"David Wilson is an impressively inquisitive man,” said Farzad Moussavi, emeritus dean of the College of Business. “He has inspired successive UNI presidents and business deans to reflect seriously on the important societal role that contemporary higher education must assume. So the College of Business is a better place, thanks to the hard questions Dave has been asking over the years.”

David Wilson’s most recent gift will allow the college to build on the successes of the past twenty-plus years and expand the reach of UNI’s ethics education efforts. An even greater number of students will graduate with the critical thinking and ethical decision-making skills necessary to meet the challenges of their professions.

Ethics event

Ethics event