Contact: Meredith Dickenson or Ellen Sterner
SMU News & Media Relations
(214) 768-7654

October 1, 2001


DALLAS (SMU) -- With war on the horizon, many Americans will place a great deal of faith in their military leaders who must make decisions that affect the lives of troops and civilians alike. How then do military leaders incorporate character and responsibility into their actions?

Understanding the ethical foundations of military leadership and how it can serve as a model of leadership in other spheres of life will be the focus of a conference, “Leadership and Ethics: Lessons from the Military,” at Southern Methodist University, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 30, in the Umphrey Lee Center Ballroom, 3300 Dyer.

SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility and the U.S. Naval Academy’s Center for the Study of Professional Military Ethics are presenting the conference in cooperation with the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies in SMU’s Dedman College. Attendance is free and the public is welcome, however, organizers are encouraging participants to preregister by Oct. 19. Those registering at the door will be accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis after those who have already registered have been admitted. To register, contact the Maguire Center at 214-768-4255.

Leading the discussion will be Albert C. Pierce, director of the Study of Professional Military Ethics at the U.S. Naval Academy, whose expertise is in ethics and the use of military force. He will speak at 4:15 p.m. on the topic “Leadership and Ethics: Lessons from the Military.” Responding to Pierce will be a panel featuring retired U.S. Maj. Gen. Hugh G. Robinson, chairman and CEO of The Tetra Group Inc.; Milledge A. “Mitch” Hart III, U.S. Naval Academy alumnus and Dallas businessman and philanthropist; Joseph Allen, professor emeritus of Christian ethics at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology; retired Rear Adm. Thomas Lynch, senior vice president of Safeguard Scientifics Inc.; and Donald T. Phillips, an author and consultant on leadership and a visiting professor at Austin College.

Pierce is interested in the distinction between leadership and moral leadership. He has identified four essentials of true moral leadership:

  • setting noble goals of high moral value;
  • taking active steps to pursue those goals;
  • willing to pay a price yourself in pursuit of those goals; and
  • willing to ask, or when necessary, order others also to pay the price in pursuit of those goals.

Pierce says none of these goals can stand alone. In the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the most critical of them, however, are the last two, which require personal and shared sacrifices.

“We’ve convinced ourselves that as a nation we can accomplish great goals at no cost,” Pierce says. “In Bosnia we fought a war without casualties, and we think we can increase defense spending without incurring deficits. With this new war on terrorism, gone is the notion that we do not have to sacrifice.”

A much sought-after speaker, Pierce has distilled from the military experience a practical model for business leaders to emulate. He teaches ethics to senior military officers and alumni of the military academies. Pierce has taught ethics, military strategy, the use of military force, civil-military relations and national security policy. He is co-director of a project on ethical challenges and the future of conflict sponsored by the National War College-Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs. He has held posts in the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), reporting to former Secretaries of Defense Casper Weinberger and Harold Brown. Before joining the DOD, Pierce was with the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. He graduated from the Catholic University of America with a major in politics and holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. in political science from Tufts University.

The Maguire Center seeks to recognize, honor and celebrate ethics throughout the campus and in the Greater Dallas community. The center serves as a forum for the exploration of issues that bear on the public good. It brings together those who confront issues of social importance with resources and opportunities for ethical reflection.

The Tower Center was established to support teaching and research programs in international studies and national security policy, focusing on the institutions that structure national and international decision-making. The Tower Center seeks to educate and inspire a new generation of thoughtful leaders who will emulate the late Senator Tower’s life of service and scholarship.