by Katie Galgano

When Lance Weaver retired from Bank of America in 2008, he left a long and fruitful career in the banking industry which included positions with Wells Fargo, Citibank, and MBNA. Before becoming part of Bank of America’s management team following its purchase of MBNA, Weaver was an Executive Vice Chairman and the Chief Administrative Officer of MBNA Corporation. He also served as President of the MBNA Foundation and managed all of the company’s community relations activities. Because of Weaver’s extensive background in the world of banking, President Patrick Harker asked him to teach at the University of Delaware. After some thought, Weaver presented the idea of teaching a course about ethics. “Ethics are much more important in the world we live in today. Seemingly, more and more people don’t have good ethics,” he said.

Solomon Schecter’s Jack Leslie jokes with Honors students at reception.

With the help of President Harker, Bobby Gempesaw, Dean of the Lerner College of Business and Economics, and Alan Fox, Honors Program Director, Weaver developed a first-year Honors colloquium course, titled the “Business of Ethics.” Taught in the fall of 2009 and currently being taught this spring, the Honors Colloquium class “explores ethical issues prevalent in today’s ever-changing business world from Wall Street to Main Street, from executive compensation to government intervention,” Weaver explains.

The class studies texts including Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller Outliers, Robert Sutton’s opinion article The Peter Principle, Carol S. Dweck’s analysis of the Enron scandal, Cynthia Cooper’s Extraordinary Circumstances: The Journey of a Corporate Whistleblower, and Bethany McLean’s chapters on the Enron and Bernie Madoff scandals.

Taught in a somewhat unconventional manner, Lance Weaver welcomes guest speakers to the classroom to discuss their personal experiences. As a way to make the class discussion-based, a hallmark of Honors colloquia, Weaver thought back to his college days and used the contacts he had developed over the years to create an interesting learning environment.

Governor Jack Markell chats with Honors students at Caffe Gelato

His students have had the privilege of interacting with Weber Shandwick Public Relations firm executives Jack Leslie and Lance Morgan, Nalco Holding Company Chairman/President/CEO Erik Frywald, Delaware Governor Jack Markell, DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman, NFL and NASCAR Director Artie Kempner, Delaware Family Court Chief Judge Chandlee Johnson Kuhn, and many other distinguished guests.

The Honors Program arranged several informal receptions at Caffe Gelato, giving class members, other Honors students, and faculty the opportunity to interact with some of the guest speakers, including Governor Markell, Artie Kempner, W.L. Gore & Associates CEO Terri Kelly, and Endo Pharmaceuticals Founder Carol Ammon.

Attending these receptions “allows some very influential speakers to see the quality of students, faculty, and staff that currently reside at the University of Delaware,” Weaver said.

Although the students get plenty of insight from Professor Weaver, they have the advantage of hearing from people spanning all parts of the business and political world. “Speakers tie-in their earlier life, what they did before, and how it contributed to where they are now. It’s a good perspective for college students as to what we can do to be successful,” a student in the spring 2010 Honors Colloquium commented.

“What you see in a lot of these very accomplished people is that they put their pants on one leg at a time,” Weaver said. “They are just regular people who have worked hard to end up where they are. This is an important view for college students to see. It says anything is possible.”