Wendt Center for Character Education to Hold Inaugural Fall Conference

Oct 12, 2005 | University of Dubuque Theological Seminary

The University of Dubuque's Wendt Center for Character Education will hold its inaugural fall conference to explore character formation and the good life on Thursday and Friday, October 27-28. The theme of the conference is "The Good Life: Reflection on Character Formation and the Christian Tradition." 

"The breadth of the Wendt Character Initiative at the University of Dubuque makes it quite unique among programs through the country emphasizing ethics, values, and character formation," stated Dr. C. Carlyle Haaland, director of the Wendt Center. "We believe that this conference will do much to advance our efforts further on this campus and elsewhere." 

The conference will examine how virtues and principles such as truthfulness, honesty, fairness, and the Golden Rule, can be important to a Christian understanding of character. More importantly, discussions will focus on how a commitment to character formation within a Christian academic setting can be influential for our entire community, including students, faculty, and staff. 

Douglas Scott, a 2005 UD graduate and Wendt Character Scholar, said "The Wendt Character Initiative is a great stride toward reemphasizing the importance of character and integrity on college campuses. Wendt Character scholars and mentors are confronted with the very real challenge of 'leading from the front' or exemplifying the highest standards of personal honor and excellence in every aspect of their daily lives." 

On Thursday, October 27, Dr. Russell Gough will deliver the keynote address titled "Passionate Character Education" at 7:00 p.m. in Westminster Presbyterian Church followed by a reception in Couchman Reading Room in Charles C. Myers Library. 

Dr. Gough has served as a consultant on ethical issues to many educational institutions, sports leagues, civics groups and other governing bodies, including the U.S. Congressional Subcommittee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Competitiveness. He served as the task-force chair for the annual WhiteHouse/Congressional Conference on Character Building, sponsored by George Washington University. For his extensive work in the area of ethics and moral education in sports, he was named an Ethics Fellow by the Institute for International Sport in both 1994 and 1995. 

Dr. Gough is frequently interviewed and featured in national newspapers and magazines, as well as on radio and TV broadcasts, and maintains his own "Character Matters" web site at 

Friday's schedule will include three panel discussions and breakout sessions presented by panels from Viterbo University, Calvin College, and St. Olaf College. All sessions will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church in the Sanctuary and begin at 8:30 a.m. 

"I am pleased that the Wendt Center's first annual conference has chosen to focus on character formation and the Christian tradition," commented University President Jeffrey Bullock. "Having Viterbo, Calvin, and St. Olaf as conversation partners- knowing their institutional commitments to the formation of character and their strong Christian identity- I believe will generate a dynamic and penetrating discussion throughout the day." 

Panel 1: Viterbo University, La Crosse, WI 
Conversations on Franciscan Character and Community in a Contemporary University 
ViterboUniversityis a Catholic liberal arts institution with an educational philosophy based on ethical values and practices fundamental to the Franciscan tradition and Christianity. In the spirit of St. Francis, Viterbo strives to create a supportive living and learning environment for students, faculty, and staff nourished by values and acts of hospitality, community, service, and stewardship. As a Christian ecumenical community, Viterbo offers opportunity for religious dialogue, experience, and worship which manifests mutual care, respect, and love. This presentation will describe our educational foundation and philosophy and show how they are reflected in our programs, services, and community outreach. 

Viterbo Panelists include Dr. Mary Hassinger, dean of the School of Letters and Sciences; Dr. Bill Reese, assistant professor of religious studies and philosophy; Richard Kyte, director of the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership and associate professor of philosophy; and Liz Koschoreck, a senior Viterbo ministry student. 

Panel 2: Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI 
Two Sides of the Same Coin? Plato Meets Mother Teresa 
Integrating what we think with what we do is essential in the learning process. Learning that is joined with service provides a seamless transition for character development through the process of reflection and thought. To separate the two would short change the process by which character is developed. This conversation will focus on how reflecting on actions and experiences complements character development. 

Calvin Panelists include Lori Gesink, associate director of the Service-Learning Center; Nathan Ward, a senior Calvin classical studies and psychology student; and Allyson Logan, a junior Calvin communication arts and sciences major. 

Panel 3: St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN 
Character, Classroom, and Content 
St Olaf College aims both at increasing intellectual clarity about ethics and values and at nurturing a sense of vocation, including the moral and spiritual virtues conducive to "lives of worth and service." An ongoing debate is the extent to which these efforts are or should be the focus of the classroom or an intentional element in the wider campus context. 

St. Olaf College panelists include Dr. Chuck Huff, professor of psychology; Dr. Edward Langerak, professor of philosophy; Eileen A. Shimota, associate director for Internships in the Center for Experiential Learning; and Thomas Rusert, a senior St. Olaf religion major and president of St. Olaf's student body. 

Conference Schedule 
Thursday, October 27 
7:00- 8:00 p.m. Keynote Address- Dr. Russell Gough, Pepperdine University 
8:00- 9:00 p.m. Reception (Gaylord M. Couchman Reading Room, Charles C. Myers Library) 

Friday, October 28 
7:30- 8:30 a.m. Registration 
8:30- 9:30 a.m. Panel 1- Viterbo University 
9:30- 9:45 a.m. Break 
9:45- 10:45 a.m. Breakout Session #1 (Facilitated by Viterbo University) 
10:45- 11:00 a.m. Break 
11:00- 12:00 a.m. Panel 2- Calvin College 
12:00- 1:00 p.m. Lunch 
1:00- 2:00 p.m. Breakout Session #2 (Facilitated by Calvin College) 
2:00- 2:15 p.m. Break 
2:15- 3:15 p.m. Panel 3- St. Olaf College 
3:15- 3:30 p.m. Break 
3:30- 4:30 p.m. Breakout Session #3 (Facilitated by St. Olaf College) 
4:30- 5:30 p.m. Wrap-Up 

The Wendt Character Initiative has been established at the University of Dubuque by the endowed Lester G. Wendt and Michael Lester Wendt Character Initiative Fund. The Initiative operates under the care of the Wendt Center for Character Education. This Initiative promotes a campus culture that nurtures the formation of excellent character and reflects the University's Mission and values, and a commitment to its Reformed Christian identity, Judeo-Christian values, a strong work ethic, and a sense of creative vocation in faithful response to the Creator undergird an appreciation of community. This Initiative is of significance for the total educational experience of all students through curricular and co-curricular programs. It is also significant for faculty, staff, administrators, trustees, and other constituents, to recognize that all are teachers - and learners - as each serve one another, as well as the wider community.