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NASBA Center for Public Trust
150 Fourth Avenue N., Ste 700
Nashville, TN 37219

University of Colorado Colorado Springs Holds Its Chapter Kick-Off Meeting

Student Center for the Public TrustThe state of Colorado now boasts its first chapter of the Student Center for the Public Trust (StudentCPT). On Wednesday, Sept. 26, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS) hosted their chapter kick-off meeting in the beautiful Library Apse. Although the views of the mountains were breathtaking – Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak are both in plain-sight through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the meeting space – all eyes were on guest speaker, Travis Tygart, President & CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

The meeting began with a welcome from StudentCPT chapter President, Kayla Ross, and Vice President, Alex Lugo. Ross and Lugo both attended the Center for the Public Trust Student Leadership Conference, held alongside NASBA’s Eastern Regional Meeting this past June in Philadelphia, PA. With newfound inspiration and knowledge of the many benefits of chapter membership, Ross and Lugo returned to their campus and began laying the groundwork for what would be the first StudentCPT chapter kick-off meeting of the 2012-2013 academic year.

The students’ welcome was followed up by a few words from College of Business Dean Venkateshwar K. Reddy, Ph.D. A key element of a successful chapter is the support of the College of Business and its faculty. Dean Reddy applauded Ross and Lugo for their enthusiasm and efforts, and pledged his office’s continued support of their endeavors. Also on staff and at the meeting to show support were StudentCPT Chapter Advisor, Elisabeth Moore, Program Coordinator – Ethics Initiative; Cathy Claiborne, Ph.D., CPA, CMA, (MT), Chair – Accounting & Finance; and Tracy Gonzalez-Padron, Ph.D, Director – Ethics Initiative & Assistant Professor of Marketing and International Business.

Tygart’s message was delivered in an intimate, relaxed setting, yet the message was profound. He explained that each individual must Find Your Way when it comes to building an ethical foundation. He said that through experience, mentorship and developing your own guiding principles, each individual creates their own path. You might make a mistake or use poor judgment, but it is not the mistake that begins to define you, it is how you deal with that mistake that begins to build your character and develop your individual guiding principles.

As the CEO of USADA, Tygart is often under fire for building cases against athletes who have the respect and admiration of millions of Americans, and public criticism and harsh scrutiny are often directed at Tygart and his staff. Being at the source of such controversy is part of the job, and in order to perform that job, he must stay true and hold to the guiding principles that he has developed for himself over the years. “Having a strong foundation of ethical leadership means not succumbing to public pressure, no matter how heavy the heat gets, and fighting for truth and fairness,” he said. He stated their mission is not about punishing an individual, but about keeping the playing field fair for everyone in a sport.

Student Center for the Public TrustHe also spoke of how athletes, as well as professionals, often face situations or opportunities that are not “black and white;” rendering them unable to see clearly that they might be making a poor decision. Having pressures to perform at a certain level, and being offered and encouraged to enhance their performance, can come disguised as coaching or training. He advised that either in sports or business, “Don’t go down that road of trying to justify in your head what you know to be the wrong decision. Consequences can be catastrophic and recovery can be nearly impossible. Stop yourself from going down that slippery slope when the justifications start inside your head.”

Tygart discussed his method of leading his staff by having “authentic and real conversations.” Leading with a policy of transparency and authenticity builds a culture of trust, and according to Tygart, that culture sets the tone for the behavior and decisions of everyone within the organization. He often referred to playing high school sports and describing the negative effect that dissention and lack of trust have on a team. It works almost the same way in an organization. When team members are having “authentic and real conversations,” trust exists and morale is higher.

The intimate setting allowed for a thoughtful Q & A between students and Tygart. Exposure to the real world of business and the opportunity to interact with high-level professionals are both benefits of StudentCPT membership, and were both take-aways from this meeting.

The evening closed with CPT President, Alfonzo Alexander, offering some insight about the birth of the CPT and its student chapter program. Look for more information on several other StudentCPT chapter kick-offs in the Mountain region in the months to come.