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Eastern Michigan University
Ypsilanti, MI USA 48197

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Ernest and Jeanne Merlanti Ethics Initiative

"Ethics isn't just a set of rules on the books, ethics needs to be lived."
Ernest Merlanti

Long before the corporate scandals and bankruptcies shook our confidence in corporate giants, Ann Arbor entrepreneurs Ernest and Jeanne Merlanti were concerned with business ethics. Their concern about ethics grew from their long experience working with corporate America and led them to talk to Eastern Michigan University's President Samuel A. Kirkpatrick and the College of Business' former Dean. These conversations resulted in the Merlantis' pledge to fund the Ernest and Jeanne Merlanti Ethics Initiative on December 13, 2001.

In fact, the initiative had been under discussion for more than a year before the current crisis in confidence in corporate ethics surfaced. The idea grew out of the Merlantis' awareness of the pressing need for expanded business ethics training. Ernest Merlanti said, "You have to start early in order for ethics to be taken seriously. It's not just a set of rules on the books. Ethics needs to be lived."

Ernest Merlanti founded Personnel Systems, Inc. in 1970 to resolve some of the problems companies faced in hiring quality employees including the need to screen resumes, interview and qualify candidates, and understand the job specifications being called for. Other related affiliates grew out of this, including Arbor Temporaries and Arbor Technical Services.

The Merlanti Initiative, directed by Management Professor John Waltman, fosters activities and develops resources to strengthen ethics and corporate social responsibility coverage in the College of Business curriculum and enhance community outreach. The program's cornerstone will be the Ernest and Jeane Merlanti Corporate Ethics Seminar featuring presentations by recognized businesspersons, case study evaluation, and relevant student projects aimed at increasing student awareness of business ethics issues, heightening self knowledge, and developing skills for dealing with business ethical dilemmas.

In addition to the seminar, the program has sparked an infusion of ethics/corporate social responsibility into the College of Business curriculum, a major revision in the Corporate Social Responsibility course and faculty development activities. The program's web presence provides research resources as well as sources of information for companies seeking guidance on business ethics and corporate social responsibility issues in the international arena. Present links, which can be seen at the left, include International Business Ethics, International Corporate Social Responsibility, and International Bribery and Corruption. In addition, University and Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility focuses on universities and business in the United States and their ethical and corporate social resposibility practices and initiatives. Other sites are currently under development.

The Merlanti initiative will sponsor the Merlanti Ethics Best Practices Award open to area businesses to recognize corporate social responsibility programs and ethical leadership. Plans call for a formal nomination procedure and a careful review by participants in the Merlanti Seminar and the Development Advisory Board.


300 West Michigan Avenue
466 Gary Owen Building
Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197
Phone: 734 487 3240

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Page last modified: October 27, 2004