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Governance & Ethics Symposium 2013: Are we learning yet from breaches of trust?

April 2, 2013

PORTLAND, Maine – From embezzlement by small town Little League treasurers to fraud and corruption within some of its largest financial institutions, America has witnessed stunning breaches of trust in the past several years.

The fifth annual Governance & Ethics Symposium, hosted by the University of Maine School of Law, asks a key question: Are we learning yet? The symposium is scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 24, at the Law School. The Symposium is fully subscribed but there is limited space available in an overflow room. To reserve your seat in the overflow room, please call 207-780-4344 or email mainelaw@maine.edu.

This year’s topic is “Governance, Ethics and Accountability in the Public and Private Sectors: Lessons Learned, Not Learned and Still to be Learned.” Panelists will examine what Maine, as well as the rest of the country, has learned or failed to learn from well publicized failures of ethics and accountability within government, the financial and business sectors, and nonprofit organizations.

Panelists at the symposium will be Dan Wathen, of counsel to the law firm of Pierce Atwood, board chairman for the Maine Turnpike Authority, and former Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court; Janet Mills, Maine Attorney General; William Schneider, deputy director of Maine’s Office of Policy and Management, and past state Attorney General; and Jennifer Miller, a lawyer and Executive Vice President of Sappi Fine Papers of America.

The discussion will begin with the recent Maine Turnpike Authority episode. Paul Violette, former director of the authority, is serving a three-and-a-half year prison sentence for stealing or misappropriating more than $400,000 in agency funds. The discussion also will explore other highly visible situations including the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State, allegations of bribery and unsafe subcontractor practices at Walmart, continuing bank scandals and an epidemic of embezzlement and financial failures throughout society.

Panelists will explore such topics as:

  • Do politics give rise to questionable conduct and dysfunction?
  • Individual vs. systemic or institutional corruption
  • Differing expectations for industry and the public sectors
  • Importance of culture and tone at the top; Do codes of conduct work?
  • Arrogance, ethics, ego, and greed—can they be regulated?
  • Do “fixes” respond to yesterday’s problems? Are they merely a political response?
  • Transparency -- is it oversold as a solution?

The annual Governance & Ethics Symposium series was established in 2009 by the University of Maine School of Law. Co-chairs are Dean Peter Pitegoff of the Law School; Dan Boxer, adjunct professor of Governance & Business Ethics and former Chief Administrative Officer of Fairchild Semiconductor; and Tom Dunne, retired partner with Accenture.

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Media contact: Trevor Maxwell, communications director at Maine Law
Office: 207-228-8037/ Cell: 207-286-4431/ email: trevor.maxwell@maine.edu

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