RALEIGH, N.C. — February 11, 2015 — In its first opportunity to compete in the North Carolina Colleges and Universities (NCICU) Ethics Bowl, Barton College quickly moved up the ranks to the championship finals, coming in second to Wake Forest University in the two-day competition recently held at the Campbell University School of Law in Raleigh. The annual event, which focused this year on ethics in education, attracted more than 100 students from 20 of North Carolina’s independent colleges and universities.
The Barton College Ethics Team, which represented a wide range of disciplines, included Jake Carter, a junior from Wilson, double majoring in Chemistry and Mathematics; Allison Dellinger, a senior from Durham, majoring in Theatre; Gabe Farris, a freshman from Wilson, majoring in Business Administration; Hannah Finkelstein, a junior from Washington, N.J., majoring in Middle School Education (6-9); Shane O’Daniel, a senior from Knightdale, majoring in Mass Communications; and John Sloop, a junior from Rocky Mount, double majoring in Chemistry and Mathematics. Five of the six students on the team also participate in Barton College’s Honors Program. Dr. Kevin Renshler, dean of the School of Business at Barton College, serves as the team’s advisor.
A program of North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities launched in 2012, the NCICU Ethics Bowl is an annual statewide competition that gives students an opportunity to think critically and collaboratively about how to make ethical decisions. The goal of the event is to prepare students for the kinds of ethical dilemmas they will face in the workplace. The competition places a premium on preparation and quick thinking, with team members expected to field questions on the spot from other teams. Previous Ethics Bowls have focused on ethics in health care, ethics in communications, and ethics in the workplace.
“With little idea of what to expect, we entered Campbell Law School knowing only that our communication and collaboration would be strong, and that we could only hope to make each other proud,” shared Finkelstein. “After our first victory on day one of the competition, we all felt a sense of confidence and pride in knowing that our hard work had paid off.”
Dellinger was quick to add that this was “one of the most challenging, wonderful, difficult, enlightening experiences” of her life. “We were pushed academically beyond what we thought we were capable and we succeeded. We grew as individuals as well as a team, creating relationships that will last a lifetime.”
“I was excited to be a part of this team,” O’Daniel noted. “As the only student outside the honors program, I thought I was in over my head, but we all had an important role in shaping the team. We were certainly the underdogs going into the competition, but making it to the finals showed everyone that Barton was there to make an impact.”
Dr. Renshler emphasized that the Ethics Bowl is just one example of how Barton students can successfully compete with top universities in North Carolina. “The Barton Team faced seasoned veteran competitors in each round, and they held their own each time, he explained. “Only two teams this year were first-time competitors, of which Barton was one. In the final round of the Ethics Bowl, Barton faced Wake Forest, a seasoned competitor and former national Ethics Bowl Champion.”
In the final round of the Bowl, the Barton and Wake Forest teams addressed the question of whether it is ethical to require college football players to be enrolled as full-time students and at the same time spend 40 hours to 50 hours a week on their sport. Barton lost by only one point.
“Following the conclusion of the finals, we made a comparison between collegiate sports and this academic competition, and we noted that these activities are all part of experiential learning,” Finkelstein continued. “The goal of a sports or ethics bowl team is not to win, but instead to develop communication, critical thinking, and teamwork skills, and to have fun. Win or lose, we all had an experience, which not only pushed us academically, but also allowed us to showcase Barton’s stamina with other NCICU schools.”
Carter noted his pride in the Barton Team’s effort. “Dr. Renshler pushed us every day to reach our potential,” he remembered. “I honestly believe none of us expected to have as much fun as we did, nor did we expect to learn so much about ourselves. The confidence I gained, realizing I am as competitive if not more competitive than any other college student in my community, was empowering to say the least. I am looking forward to seeing what else my Barton education will allow me to accomplish in the future.”
Farris added that the Ethics Bowl competition was “so many things: a learning experience, a place where thought and communication come together, and a competition you want to win.” And, on a more personal level, he noted, “The Ethics Bowl brought together seven very different people and made them a team that wanted to achieve their goals. We all put in hard work and so much effort to achieve our goals. This year, we not only achieved our aspirations but went above and beyond and placed second among 20 schools.”
Summing up the two-day experience, Sloop concluded, “Getting to head out from Wilson and realize that our preparation and education is comparable to a school such as Wake Forest University was the greatest moment for me. When we first arrived, people were asking us, ‘So where is Barton?’ And, by the time we made it to the finals, we had a following and school rooting for us. It was a great experience!”
Teams in matches throughout the competition addressed issues ranging from how a student should deal with a professor who takes credit for the student’s research to the dilemma a teacher faces in deciding whether to fail a student who misses too many classes because of a family crisis. In the two semi-final matches, High Point University competed against Wake Forest University and Methodist University competed against Barton College.
“We know the power of competitive athletic teams at Barton, and we wanted students to have a similar competitive team experience in academics,” explained Dr. Gary Daynes, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Barton College. “Competitive academic teams build character and confidence as individuals and as a team, and they build tremendous school pride. Barton College is incredibly proud of our students and their academic accomplishments.”
Behind the Scenes at the NCICU Ethics Bowl —
In addition to the team competition, students participating in the Ethics Bowl had the opportunity — during the matches and at a reception and dinner at the North Carolina Museum of History — to meet corporate, foundation and government leaders from across the state who served as judges and moderators for the competition.
During dinner at the Museum of History, NCICU gave special recognition to Frances Fontaine who is retiring in April as director of research and programs after 28 years with the organization, and to Jesse F. McCartney, retired academic dean and provost at Catawba College who has served as statewide coordinator for the Ethics Bowl for all four years.
“Frances and Jesse have done an exceptional job with the Ethics Bowl, and leave an enduring legacy that will continue to help prepare and inspire future generations of students to think and act ethically, said A. Hope Williams, president of NCICU.
McCartney, in remarks at the dinner, said the Ethics Bowl involves “a process that ideally reveals and utilizes the values of intellectual curiosity, tolerance, restraint, clarity of thought and expression, collaboration and teamwork, and a keen sense of good ethics.” Those values, he said, “will make good students into good citizens and will lead to a good society and a good life.”
Lead sponsors of the 2015 NCICU Ethics Bowl, which attracted 24 sponsors, were Duke Energy and Wells Fargo.