The American College Gets $2.5 Million for Ethics Education

One man's donation will impact insurance ethics for young professionals

An oil baron’s multi-million dollar gift to The American College may result in a more ethical Wall Street for future graduates.

The American College recently announced the intent of Cary Maguire—chairman and president of Maguire Oil Co. and Maguire Resources Co. in Dallas—to finance the endowment behind the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Financial Services. The $2.5 million donation, disbursed over several years, will go to revamp the school’s existing Center for Ethics and Financial Services.

“I believe that a strong ethical financial services industry is vital to the economic health of our nation and our world,” Maguire said in a press release from The American College. “We saw in the financial debacle of 2008 and 2009 how major banks and financial institutions were brought to bankruptcy largely due to unethical behavior.”

The Center’s mission is increasing ethical awareness and standards of behavior in the financial services industry. According to the Center’s website, it promotes ethical behavior by offering courses that push beyond the “rules” of market conduct. It is designed to allow students to think sensitively about ethical issues and critically analyze ethical problems.

Julie Ann Ragatz, a Ph.D. student at Temple University, will serve as director of the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics in Financial Services. She joined the Center for Ethics in Financial Services 6 years ago as a doctoral fellow. Currently, she also is the interim holder of the Charles Lamont Post chair of ethics and the professions, and assistant professor of ethics at The American College.

Ragatz said the curriculum will affect The American College in three ways. “It will enable us to improve curriculum, it will allow us to research issues that impact and affect the financial services industry, and it will help us get the word out about potential ethical issues.”

According to the school’s website, The American College is the nation’s largest non-profit educational institution devoted primarily to financial services. It serves as a partner to banks, brokerage firms and insurance companies. This endowment will allow the school to sustain and expand its involvement with the government and financial institutions, Ragatz said.

“It’s an important time for ethics in the financial services industry,” Ragatz said. “This endowment means we can work on ethical issues, so consumers and government officials can continue to build trust with us.”

Though Maguire will not have any direct impact on the curriculum, he will be included in the decision making process, Ragatz said. This is not Maguire’s first major ethical donation. He and his wife, Ann, also funded the Maguire Center in Ethics and American History at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

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