Lead attorney in Lehman Brothers bankruptcy case to speak at Friday keynote luncheon during EMU's Ethos Week March 12-16

Anton Valukas highights a week of talks on various realms of business ethics

by Geoff Larcom, Published February 29, 2012

YPSILANTI - Anton Valukas, the lead attorney in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy case, will serve as the luncheon keynote speaker for the sixth annual Ethos Week, to be held March 12-16 at the Eastern Michigan University College of Business.

Anton Valukas, Ethos Week

Anton Valukas

Valukas is the Chairman of Jenner and Block, a national law firm with offices in Chicago, New York, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles.  In 2009, he was appointed examiner in the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. His report was released to the public in March 2010. The report contained more than 2,200 pages, formed from interviews with more than 250 persons and a review of approximately 35 million pages of documents.

In testifying that April before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services, Valukas spoke of the public policy issues raised by his report.

"It is far from clear that the most engaged regulator could have saved Lehman from its fate," Valukas said in his concluding statement. "But what is clear is that had the government acted sooner on what it did or should have known, there would have been more opportunities for a soft landing. The markets might have been spared the turmoil of Lehman's abrupt failure ...

"The regulators were not fully engaged and did not direct Lehman to alter the conduct  (that) led Lehman to ruin. Someone must be in charge. And the agency in charge must have the will to act."

 For Valukas' efforts, "The American Lawyer" magazine named him a 2011 "Litigator of the Year."

"There were few heroes to emerge from the financial debacle of 2008, but Anton Valukas of Jenner & Block was one," the article said. The piece credited him with "untangling what caused a historic collapse that helped set off the broader financial crisis."

Valukas has been chairman of Jenner & Block since 2007.  A former United States Attorney and a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, he focuses on major civil and white-collar criminal litigation, representing individuals and corporations in contested proceedings throughout the nation. 

He served as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois from 1985 to 1989, and has held a variety of other key government legal positions. He graduated from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., in 1965, and from Northwestern University School of Law in 1968.

The Ethos Week events, the first university-sponsored week of its kind in the nation, seek to promote business ethics and to further ethics education.

The week begins and ends with marquee events. It starts early Monday (March 12) morning, with the unveiling and signing of the Ethos Banner at 9 a.m.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of that week each feature two speakers giving free presentations on ethics in specific disciplines. These one-hour sessions, one at 11:30 a.m. and one at 5:30 p.m., are held in the College of Business and are open to the public. The final activity is the luncheon featuring Valukas, to be held on Friday, March 16.

"We have a terrific lineup of speakers for this year's Ethos Week, including a professional - Tony Valukas ­­- who played a central role in helping understand the causes of a profound financial crisis in our country," said Dave Mielke, dean of the College of Business.

Ethos Week has experienced significant growth in its six-year history. More than forty prominent business leaders have spoken during sessions at the event, including keynote addresses by Randy Cohen, a former ethics columnist for The New York Times; and ethicist Bruce Weinstein, a nationally known columnist for BusinessWeek.com. Last year's speaker was Barb McQuade, U.S. Attorney for The Eastern District of Michigan.

The genesis for Ethos Week came in 2006, when the College of Business faculty decided that it wanted to develop a strong statement of the ethics and values that represent the spirit of the college. The resulting Ethos Statement lists six values as the core for the college: integrity, honesty, trustworthiness, respect, learning and work ethic. The statement is attached to the syllabus for every course offered by the College of Business. 

The student members of the Dean's Board of Student Advisors developed the concept and planned the events for the first Ethos Week in 2007. The board is composed of student leaders in the College of Business.

"This week of events reinforces what we emphasize in the classroom," Mielke said. "Business ethics are a pillar in a successful company. We at the COB continue to build a culture - an ethos - based on ethics and values. This foundation for the college brings a sense of pride to our students, faculty and staff."

Highlights of the week include:

Tuesday, March 13, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Paul Nick, executive director of the Ohio Ethics Commission, will speak on ethics in government. From 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., Jack LaRue, senior vice president of Thomson Reuters, will speak on ethics in technology.

Wednesday, March 14, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Andrew Malec, managing director of Gordon Advisors, P.C., will speak on ethics in advisory services. From 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Tony Dearing, content director of AnnArbor.com, will speak on ethics and the press.

Thursday, March 15, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Jonathan Citrin, CEO of Citrin Group, will speak on ethics in finance. From 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Rodney M. Rusk, automotive industry manager for Rexroth Bosch Group, will speak on ethical challenges in international business.

All presentations other than the keynote will take place in room 114 of the College of Business, located at 300 W. Michigan Avenue.  All events except the luncheon are free and open to the public.

Friday, March 16: Valukas will the honored guest in a reception in the EMU Student Center Ballroom at 12:30, followed by the luncheon there at 1 p.m. Valukas will speak from 1:40 p.m. to about 2:25 p.m., with Ethos Honor Society induction and concluding remarks ending the luncheon at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets for the Ethos Week luncheon are $5 for students (limit 2 per person) and $35 for non-students. For details, see the website at http://www.cob.emich.edu.





Geoff Larcom



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