About the Program

The College of Business launched the Building Ethical Leaders Using an Integrated Ethics Framework (BELIEF) Program in 2006. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business has called it a model program. National and local companies provide guidance, financial support and guest lecturers to the program.

While every ethical dilemma is unique, you can evaluate each situation with the BELIEF handbook or wallet-sized decision card. Both outline a seven-step decision-making process and suggest a dozen different "tests" you can use to evaluate the ethics of various options.



Each year, you're invited to apply for a position in the BELIEF student organization, Leaders in Ethics and Academic Discipline (LEAD). Once chosen, LEAD members are the face of ethics education from the student perspective and provide an important link between student education, faculty instruction and corporate support. LEAD students, along with faculty, are an active part of corporate board meetings.

Faculty and course development activities help faculty use the Ethics Handbook in their classes. These activities provide support to faculty who integrate the BELIEF handbook and decision guide into their courses. Consistent reinforcement in upper-division course work is necessary for a thorough integration and application of the decision-making guide and handbook.

BELIEF supports guest speakers for individual classes. The program also supports college-wide speakers, who generally speak during the annual College of Business (COB) BELIEF Week and recognition of the COB Student Honor Code. Past speakers include:

  • Fall 2019 - Jedediah McClure, Entrepreneur and member of COB Faculty
  • Fall 2018 - Tonya Robinson, KPMG General Counsel
  • Fall 2017 - Brian Lanners, FBI
  • Fall 2016 - Steve Hajdukovic, KPMG; Becky Meggesin, Nicor/AGL; Dave Templin, Caterpillar; Matt Tipperreiter, Experian
  • Fall 2015 - Joan Dubinsky, director of ethics for the United Nations (retired)
  • Fall 2014 - Beth Reese, president of Nicor Gas and SVP of AGL Resources
  • Fall 2013 - Julie Lagacy, vice president of finance for Caterpillar
  • Fall 2012 - Sherron Watkins
  • Fall 2011 - Melvin Flowers, Microsoft
  • Fall 2010 - Patrick Kuhse
  • Fall 2009 - Sam Antar
  • Fall 2008 - Wes Durand, Caterpillar
  • Fall 2007 - Sven Holmes, KPMG
  • Fall 2006 - Scott Mitchell, OCEG Office of Compliance

Leaders in Ethics and Academic Discipline (LEAD) alumni are those who have built on the foundation of BELIEF's student organization, LEAD. Alumni continue to aid the efforts of BELIEF by sharing their professional working perspective and offering new ideas, topics and ways to link student ethics with that of the current business profession. Alumni also continue to show support by sponsoring LEAD. This sponsorship serves as the foundation of the student group's budget, allowing the group to continue its reach and impact throughout the College of Business.

Our corporate partners provide their personal time, talent and treasure to sponsor the BELIEF Program. For example, corporate partners serve as judges in the NIU Ethics Case Competition, share their business and personal expertise and provide funding opportunities for special events and activities. The sponsorship commitment lasts three years with the possibility of renewal. Each corporate partner designates an individual to be the organizational liaison to the BELIEF director and serve on the BELIEF Corporate Advisory Board.

  • "Building Ethical Leaders: A Way to Integrate and Assess Ethics Education." Journal of Business Ethics, June (II) 2013, Volume 115, No. 1, 101-114. Pam Smith, Ann Dzuranin and Rebecca Shortridge.
  • "Creating an Interdisciplinary Business Ethics Program." Journal of Academic Ethics, 2012, 10 (12), 93-112. E. Towell, K. McFadden, W. McCoy and A. Buhrow.
  • "Integrating Ethics into the Business Curriculum: The Northern Illinois University Initiative." Strategic Finance, June 2008. Pam Smith and Linda Matuszewski.
  • "Accountancy Students Develop a Unique Code of Ethics." Strategic Finance, August 2004, 15-16. Pam Smith.
  • "Ethics Education Toolkit: Resources for Teaching Accounting Ethics." Invited Panelist, American Accounting Association (Atlanta, GA: August 2, 2014).
  • "Assessing Ethics Education: A Theory-based Approach." American Accounting Association, Symposium on Ethics Research in Accounting (Atlanta, GA: August 3, 2014).
  • "Building Ethical Leaders: A Way to Integrate and Assess Ethics Education." American Accounting Association, Symposium on Ethics Research in Accounting (Washington, DC: August 5, 2012).
  • "Quality in Higher Education... Assessment of Co-Curricular Offerings: The BELIEF Program." HLC Annual Conference (April 1, 2012).
  • "Integrating Ethics into the Business Curriculum." American Accounting Association (San Francisco, CA: July 31, 2010).
  • "Ethics, Professionalism and YOU." IMA Student Leadership Conference (St. Louis, MO: Nov 7, 2009).
  • "Integrating Ethics into the Business Curriculum: The Northern Illinois University Initiative." AAA Midwest Meeting (Detroit, MI: March 2008). Teaching and Curriculum Section Best Paper Award.
  • "Integrating Ethics Across the Curriculum: The Northern Illinois University's BELIEF Initiative." Annual Meeting of the Colloquium on Change in Accounting Education (Scottsdale, AZ: Oct 5, 2007).
  • "Building Ethical Leaders Program at Northern Illinois University," Annual Meeting of the American Accounting Association (Washington, D.C.: August 2006).
  • "The Evolution of Integrating Business Ethics as a Learning Outcome at Northern Illinois University." Teaching Business Ethics Conference, sponsored by the AACSB (Boulder, CO: July 21, 2005).
  • "A Student Developed Honor Pledge and Code of Conduct." Annual Meeting of the Colloquium on Change in Accounting Education (Albuquerque, NM: Oct 30, 2003).


  • NIU's BELIEF Program - Midwest AACSB Innovation in Business Education Award, 2011
  • Bloomberg Businessweek rankings for ethics education:
    • 2013 - 3rd
    • 2012 - 2nd
    • 2011 - 3rd
    • 2010 - 2nd

Contact Us

NIU College of Business
Barsema Hall
740 Garden Road
DeKalb, IL 60115

Neil Doughty, Director, BELIEF

NIU College of Business AACSB Accredited

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