It was late 2001 and the Enron scandal weighed heavily in the national consciousness. Whistleblowers were taking heat from defrauded investors, employees stood agog while their retirements evaporated, and journalists sought out experts to explain the ethical lapses that led to one of the biggest corporate bankruptcies in history.
Who did they turn to? An unlikely source—Utah Valley State College, where Elaine Eliason Englehardt (BA ’74, MA ’84) had been working for years to bring ethics to the public conversation. The Washington Times, in describing Englehardt’s contributions amid the clamor for better business and corporate ethics, wrote that her work had “blossomed into a national phenomenon.” Englehardt, now a distinguished professor of ethics, philosophy, and communications at Utah Valley University, understood how poor or unethical corporate practices can become institutional “blind spots” that are hard to recognize and organizationally difficult to challenge—and how to adjust policies and practices in order to ensure honesty, fairness, and transparency.