Keenan, who has written/edited some 16 books on theology and ethics, claims that the absence of an institutional ethical culture facilitates aberrant behaviors in US higher education. Universities offer courses in ethics but not in ethics as related to higher education institutions. Keenan considers ethical concerns with contingent versus tenure-line faculty; marginalization of university students and employees; dishonesty on the parts of students, faculty, and administrators; undergraduate carousing practices and violence; male-female inequities; disinterest in (or insensitivity to) differences; and the situation of international students. He points out that institutional levels are responsible for specific aspects of university life; accordingly, faculty, staff, students, and administrators remain unaware of one another’s struggles. And he argues that a prevailing culture of consumerism and consumption is largely responsible for condoning, even promoting, unethical behaviors. Keenan concludes with a call for collaboration among all involved with higher education to actively advance ethical behavior in their institutions. Providing just enough historical context, Keenan uses a narrative reporting style, interweaving research and relevant literature, scholarship, and media reports to develop his story and support his assertions. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels.
— Choice Reviews
The book covers a number of issues, including gender inequity, sexual assault, racial discrimination, financial mismanagement, lack of access to college for poor students, and the skewing of priorities toward too-powerful sports programs. Keenan places a discussion of student behavior—drinking, harassing, and cheating—in the middle of the book. These are not simply problems for the students. They are problems for their universities. . . .Keenan has provided a roadmap for the challenging but necessary work of making a moral community. This matters for everyone who studies or works at a university. It matters for the 65 percent of U.S. students who just graduated from high school and have enrolled in college this fall. It matters for the half a million part-time faculty earning, on average, less than $3,000 per course. The work of making a moral community also matters for American society because, like churches, universities could reclaim their role as moral exemplars. All they have to do is practice what they preach.
— Commonweal Magazine
Keenan, a well-published ethicist, has researched his topic thoroughly. The book is replete with references to the works of other experts; this alone makes it a valuable asset for those interested in higher education. In straightforward prose, Keenan begins with the adjunct faculty whose situation is one that ethically should embarrass both tenured faculty and administrators. Cheating, gender, racism, classism, fraternities, and student misbehavior are among the other issues explored. Before you conclude that all these have been discussed ad nauseam in recent years, I invite you to read Keenan’s analysis of, and suggested solutions for, their amelioration.
— U.S. Catholic
Keenan’s work is multilayered, analytically sharp and engaging, and demonstrates not just the depth of his research but his own personal experience as a university professor. . . . If you have anything to do with the life of a university, even if you are simply a concerned alumnus, get this book.
— America: The Jesuit Review of Faith & Culture
University Ethics is a powerful and empowering book in the right hands. Higher education administration could use Keenan’s insights to shape new strategic planning.This is apparent, but Keenan appears to have another primary audience in mind. The book addresses faculty members more than anyone else, putting us on notice of our responsibilities and capabilities to be influential agents of a culture of ethics on our campuses. This book comes at the right time as faculty across the spectrum are asking about our role in a dynamically changing landscape. We can either get carried away by the floodwaters of change or assert ourselves using valuable and well-thought out tools like University Ethics to re-center higher education in these exigent times.
— Collegium: A Colloquy of Faith and Intellectual Life
James Keenan’s latest book compellingly argues that American universities (including Catholic universities) are failing to take ethics seriously within the confines of their own institutions.
— Theological Studies
James Keenan has not only written the first sustained discussion of university ethics, but he has done it in a superb manner. For the good of the university, which needs to have an ethical culture at its core, I hope that many others will learn from Keenan and continue the important work that he has so well begun.
— Charles E. Curran, Scurlock University Professor of Human Values, Southern Methodist University
University Ethics is a highly original take on a festering problem in higher education. Every university employee should engage it, though it may not be a pleasant read. Keenan diagnoses the causes and intersections of multiple trouble spots in university culture. This book will uniquely position university leaders to take action, and it will inspire new leadership across universities as a whole.
— Lisa Sowle Cahill, Boston College
James F. Keenan, SJ, has written an outstanding book filled with examples and details that could improve daily life within higher education for faculty members and students. Building a culture of ethics in higher education is rarely developed as a scholarly topic, and this book fills an important role. I highly recommend this book.
— Elaine E. Englehardt, Distinguished Professor of Ethics, Utah Valley University; co-editor of The Ethical Challenges of Academic Administration
While many universities do an excellent job of teaching ethics to future lawyers, doctors, and business executives, professional ethics for higher education remains underdeveloped. University Ethics provides the resources for a comprehensive approach to this important topic. Keenan’s book addresses not only familiar problems of cheating, student behavior, and faculty culture but also the issues that arise where race, gender, and economic interests intersect with the purposes of higher education. This is a book that should be read and discussed by faculty and administrators who care about the integrity of their profession and their institutions.
— Robin W. Lovin, Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics Emeritus, Southern Methodist University
As the author of five books concerned with hazing as a dangerous and repugnant practice, I applaud the mission of James F. Keenan to assess and to eliminate a wide swath of civility failures on college campuses. He is absolutely on target to see such abuses as ethical failures. University Ethics belongs in the libraries of all colleges as a sort-of GPS guide for student affairs professionals, behavior experts and administrators. Personally, I'd recommend it as well for parents of present and future college students. Here's hoping Keenan's suggestions for change [will] lead to a paradigm shift to end abuses ranging everywhere from cheating to alcohol abuse...and, of course, to deadly hazing practices.
— Hank Nuwer, author of The Hazing Reader, Wrongs of Passage, and Sons of the Dawn
Keenan’s book does raise important questions, for ethical good practice in education matters.... If he is anywhere near correct about US universities, they face substantial challenges to their very being as universities.
— Studies in Christian Ethics