Dr. Shannon French, the General Hugh Shelton Distinguished Visiting Chair of Ethics, visited Fort Leavenworth Aug. 29-30, to begin her duties as the chair for academic year 2018.
During her visit Dr. French met with Chaplain (Maj.) Jeff McKinney from CGSC’s Department of Command and Leadership to plan for the ninth annual Fort Leavenworth Ethics Symposium co-sponsored by the College and the Foundation. The symposium is scheduled for April 30-May 1, and like academic year 2017, all CGSOC students will participate. (In previous years the symposium was an elective class.- see related article) According to Foundation CEO Doug Tystad, Dr. French is assisting in finding a featured speaker for the symposium and will be mentoring students in preparing and presenting papers. Her plans also include publicizing the symposium more broadly within military ethicist circles to increase outside attendance.
Dr. French also met with a student she will be mentoring throughout the year in a newly-formed elective class for the College entitled “Writing for Publication.” CGSC faculty selected 16 students from the class that have exceptional writing ability and 11 of those 16 opted to enroll in the elective. The class will further develop the students’ research and writing abilities and assist them in getting scholarly articles published. Each of the students is being paired with a faculty mentor who will help the student identify a viable topic, focus the research and prepare the article for publication. Dr. French will assist her student in crafting an article with an ethics focus and has also provided topics for other students to research. Her goal is to get one or two of the students prepared to present their papers at The Inamori Center for Ethics annual conference next spring at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. French is the director of the Center.
During her visit to Fort Leavenworth, Dr. French also had the opportunity to speak to a group of nearly 100 law school students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) about professional ethics, which is UMKC Law School Dean Barbara Glesner-Fines’ emphasis for the new school year. CGSC Foundation trustee Col. (Ret.) Bill Eckhardt, who is a UMKC Teaching Professor Emeritus at the law school, accompanied her on the visit.
According to Eckhardt, Dr. French spoke candidly with the law school students, noting that “professions have a code that protects them and draws limits that are crossed at the cost of surrendering values.” She told the students “professionals must be careful about balancing their analytical thinking with their empathetic feelings. All head or all heart is dangerous.”
Eckhardt said Dr. French stressed the importance of reputation – your honor – stating that personal honor is historically something that warriors have valued more then their lives. She cautioned the students, “Don’t sell your soul cheaply because of stress or panic.”
In concluding her presentation to the law students, Dr. French observed there is “usually a way to survive mistakes and still do the right thing – confess, admit fault, and ask for help.”
“Think twice before you sacrifice what make you YOU for trifling gains,” she said. “If you are not ‘caught,’ you will always know what you did. You cannot escape yourself.”
The main focus of Dr. French’s visit to Fort Leavenworth was to attend the CGSC Foundation board meeting and provide the trustees with an overview of her activities planned for this year. The General Hugh Shelton Distinguished Visiting Chair for Ethics is a program sponsored by the Foundation through a grant from the Perot Foundation. The program responsibilities for the chair are extensive:
- Conduct minimum of two and maximum of four visits of up to four days in duration (travel time inclusive) to CGSC, Army University or Center for Army Leadership (CAL) during the academic year to participate in designated educational activities. Activities can include but are not limited to:
– Leading the CGSC Ethics Symposium
– Conducting Faculty Development Program mentoring sessions for up to one day per visit
– Conducting mentoring sessions with School for Command Preparation (SCP) students on senior leadership
– Conducting Ethics instruction for CGSOC, SAMS, SCP, and/or CES students.
- Provide up to two visits of two-day duration for special consulting or special events requested with the Command General-Combined Arms Center (CG-CAC), Army University, CGSC or the Foundation.
- Participate in planning for the annual CGSC Ethics Symposium.
- Address the CGSC Class and Faculty on an agreed topic on ethics or ethical development in conjunction with one of the visits and upon request.
- Author one to two papers per year providing input to CGSC and Army University programs of instruction or ethics doctrine initiatives (no travel or in conjunction with CGSC scheduled visits).
- Author one to two papers per year providing input for discussion sessions on senior ethics initiatives in support of the CG CAC, the CGSC Deputy Commandant, Army University, CGSC Schools and Departments, or CAL as requested and coordinated with the Foundation (no travel).
- Author or co-author one paper as a scholarly article and submitted for publication through Military Review, Parameters, or other military related journal on a leadership, ethics, or ethical development topic. This task will be negotiated in advance based on the Chair’s availability to support.
- Support one CGSOC elective in ethical leadership by being available for teleconference and mentoring for up to three lessons.
- Attend in person or by virtual means the annual CGSC Foundation Board of Trustees meeting to report on Ethics Chair activities.