Cooper revisits WorldCom scandal

Cynthia Cooper was the speaker in college of business' ethics lecture. She communicated with the audience about the 2002 WorldCom Accounting Scandal. Nikisun Shrestha/The Lion's Roar

The college of business’ latest edition of the annual ethics lecture hosted Cynthia Cooper, a best-selling author, consultant and internationally recognized speaker on ethical leadership and corporate governance best practices.

For her contribution in revealing the fraud at WorldCom, one of the largest corporate frauds in history, Cooper was one of Time magazine’s Persons of the Year.

Dean for the College of Business Dr. Antoinette Phillips explained her views on the event.

“I thought the ethics lecture went very well,” said Phillips. “I really appreciated Ms. Cooper’s engaging style, the way she was a storyteller first of all, and she kept the audience interested by asking questions and by attempting to involve them in the story, asking them to put themselves in the position of different people she was talking about.”

Phillips shared her happiness on how the event was well received.

“I was very pleased with the attendance,” said Phillips. “We had a good number of students there. I heard very good comments from students and faculty alike about the speaker and her topic. That it was interesting and engaging. A lot of our professors were very active in encouraging their students to attend the event and point out the importance of attending things like that and learning about ethics. With ethics being one of our college of business’ learning goals for our students, it reinforces its importance.”      

Senior accounting major Erin Oteri described the elements of the speech she liked and explained the importance of the event to her as an accounting major.

“I liked how she was so engaging with the audience,” said Oteri. “She didn’t go up there and give a speech. She included the audience by putting ourselves in her shoes. Being a business major, the college of business has played a fundamental part in my college career. It says a lot for the values we hold in our sector of the university, and I’m glad everyone was able to see the wonderful things the college of business can provide for someone.” 

Phillips pointed out that Cooper’s engaging style and detailed storytelling made the lecture more relatable for the younger generation.

“I enjoyed hearing the story,” said Phillips. “I’ve remembrance partially of the event because it was a major news event at the time that it happened, but I really appreciated that she gave enough background, history and details about the event.”

Oteri also shared the lesson she learned from the lecture that she will take forward in her professional career.

“Always stick with your gut,” said Oteri. “With the accounting profession being so centralized around integrity, it’s so important to maintain a strong ethical compass and being able to point to the true north.” 

Phillips described how she plans to continue bringing in quality speakers to present to the university and the public.

“My hope is that we continue to have speakers who bring topics to life,” said Phillips. “We might look at covering some other topics beside ethics but all under the umbrella of business, and I think our attempts to do that includes the community, students and faculty.”