Shane George


Class of 2010
Economics and Finance
Penn State University Park

For his work and dedication in promoting the Smeal College of Business Honor Code, and for his leadership and extraordinary example in promoting integrity and respect.

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You might think, given the barrage of news stories today about Ponzi schemes and commercial fraud, that business ethics are in decline. But commercial success and business ethics are far from incompatible, as one remarkable Penn State student has been quick to recognize.

In the first year of college, a student must navigate a new environment, figure out how to live away from home, and adjust to the rigors of university life. Accordingly, our students often take some time to get involved in the Penn State community. This was not the case for Shane George. Brought up in a family that stressed the importance of personal integrity and of acting ethically every day, Shane wasted no time in demonstrating ethical leadership to rectify a glaring wrong. As a freshman in the Smeal College of Business, he noticed rampant cheating in his classes. Instead of standing idly by or accepting cheating as part of college life, Shane decided to do something about it. Working closely with faculty, and despite “obvious friction” with fellow students, Shane helped to formulate an Honor Code for Smeal College—a code that now appears on every course syllabus in the college.  Having helped to design the Honor Code, Shane continues to work tirelessly to ensure that it forms the cornerstone of business education at Penn State. Working closely with the Dean’s office, Shane developed “Integrity Talks,” workshop exercises for promoting critical thinking and developing the moral imaginations of business students. Moreover, he has taken on a leadership role in justifying the Honor Code to skeptical business students by making presentations in many of the College’s business courses. Shane’s work is paying off. Rather than allowing academic dishonesty to continue, more and more business students are reporting incidents of cheating.

Shane is not someone who says one thing in public and then does another in private. His commitment to ethics is profound. Indeed, Shane’s ethical leadership in his academic life is mirrored by a dedication towards promoting honor, respect, and tolerance in his personal life. As a Resident Assistant for Residence Life, Shane strove to promote an environment where all of the forty five students who lived on his floor felt safe from discrimination and violence. Accordingly, when some of Shane’s students discriminated against an openly gay dorm member, Shane took a stand.  He made sure that discriminatory behavior would not be tolerated by promoting an environment of open and respectful communication.  His commitment and leadership helped to ease tensions and facilitated understanding and acceptance of alternative lifestyles.

Shane’s actions, whether as an RA or as a leader in his College, demonstrate a commitment to doing the right thing, no matter how difficult.  Through his actions, he has helped many of us appreciate how important it is to stand up for our beliefs and not simply ignore problems. Thus, we honor Shane George for his leadership and his commitment to integrity, which he eloquently defines as “being true to yourself and being true to your beliefs.” Because Shane remains true to his principles, Penn State is a better place.

Watch & learn about his ethical leadership

Do you know a Penn State undergraduate student who stands up for a belief, a cause, or an idea?

The Rock Ethics Institute inaugurated the Stand Up Award to honor Penn State undergraduate students who have demonstrated courage, fortitude, and ethical leadership by taking a stand for a person, a cause, or a belief. This award and the individuals it honors should remind the entire Penn State community of how often the extraordinary act is possible in ordinary circumstances.