Mark Wexler

Business ethics pioneer honoured

May 13, 2010

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While most people tend to shy away from ethical dilemmas, Mark Wexler (right) has spent 30 years seeking them out.

The Segal Graduate School of Business professor pioneered teaching ethics at SFU in one of Canada’s first MBA ethics programs.

That, and a lifetime commitment to applying scholarly work to practical problems and engaging the public in dialogue about ethics earned him the Paz Buttedahl Career Achievement Award in April from the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of B.C.

Wexler’s teaching and research are centered on business ethics and corporate responsibility.

"Among other things, I ask my students to examine the public perceptions of the modern corporation, to consider the ethical foundations of leadership and to discuss the nature and limits of social responsibility," he says.

Wexler’s students come away from his courses with practical tools to deal with the dilemmas they will face in the business world.

His practical, hands-on approach to ethical reasoning combined with a solid academic foundation has fuelled international demand for his expertise as a consultant, advisor and speaker.

With a background in philosophy, sociology, business and law, Wexler is called on to help make sense of not only business dilemmas, but also difficult ethical questions facing our society.

Mercy killing, stem-cell research, the rights and responsibilities of new immigrants, the limits to treating people with rare diseases, and the boundaries of tolerance are among the topics he’s addressed.

Wexler firmly believes academics have a duty to serve the public good, whether that "public" is Canada’s business elite, a class of Grade 6 students or homeless people on Vancouver’s streets.

His own engagement is reflected in his involvement with the Premier’s Multicultural Advisory Committee, the Philosopher’s Café, the Canadian Jewish Congress, the B.C. Ethics in Action Society and the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, to name a few.

And universities should play a much greater role, he told the awards audience.

They rightly reward their "best and brightest for publishing, receiving grant money and contributing to the information commons."

But universities must also "recognize and reward a means of customizing knowledge so its local application is appreciated and integrated into the economy and heartbeat of the town."


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