Bob ’66 and Carol Romsa Parke ’67 have established the Parke Ethics Fund to help students recognize ethical issues and engage them in the development of strategies to assess such situations and to make principled choices at Knox College and after graduation. Carol shares why they established the program.
Why did you choose to endow a fund to support ethics instruction?
At Knox, Bob majored in economics, and I majored in education. As a CPA and chief financial officer for a Chicago bank, Bob had many situations in which there was pressure to make unethical choices to increase expediency or profits. Newspapers were reporting corrupt business deals almost daily. In the education field, there were many reports of teachers changing students’ answers on tests and students cheating on tests, papers, and research results. One of our daughter’s professors reported that in a simulated exercise, students did anything they could to win the game with no regard for their methods or who was hurt by them. We felt that the tide needed to turn and that ethics needed to become a major principle in our society.
Why do you think it’s important to teach ethics at the undergraduate level?
The undergraduate level is the first preparation for careers. It is our hope that ethics will be at the forefront of current students’ education and become ingrained in them as they encounter ethical training in many different aspects of their education.
Describe your Knox experience.
Both of us came from small towns and sheltered childhoods. At Knox, we were introduced to many different points of view and a much broader vision of society and our place in it. We moved from learning facts to learning to think, analyze, and come to our own conclusions. The liberal arts background prepared us to adapt to the many changes we’ve seen in the 50 years since our graduation.
What has been the impact of your Knox experience in the years since Commencement?
The education we received at Knox gave us a good, solid foundation for graduate school and our careers. Bob’s 40-year career in business would not have been as successful without the analytical skills he learned at Knox. We are happy that we are now able to give something back.