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Community Leaders Bring Experience to Ethics Awareness Week

Compass, confront oneself

The EKU School of Business was pleased to welcome the participation of leading community members in the 2019 Ethics Awareness Week (EAW). Each member shared his or her wisdom and interpretation of one of the EAW pillars: honesty, integrity, respect, and responsibility. Reverend Robert R. Blythe, Steve Gates, Connie Lawson, and Dr. Janna Vice shared with students and faculty how they live out these values in written pieces submitted for the EAW activity “Guiding Principles.”


Rev. Robert R. Blythe is currently the Mayor of Richmond, KY as well as Pastor of the First Baptist Church. Blythe received his Bachelor’s Degree from EKU in 1971 and then went on to get his Master’s and Doctoral degree in Ministry. He has served as an officer of the Mt. Pleasant District Association for several years and the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky and its auxiliaries for 33 years. Blythe also taught mathematics and French in the public schools of Gary, Indiana; Richmond, Kentucky; and Madison County, Kentucky. He also taught mathematics at EKU from 1993-2011.

Blythe served on the Kentucky State Body of the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., and the Kentucky State Missionary Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention. He also served as President and Dean of Religious Education and Treasurer in these bodies, respectively. He held the position of Dean of the Baptist Unified Christian Leadership Conference of the General Association as well as Vice President of that body. In each role in which he was placed, he served those around them and did the work he was called to do. In his writing, he shared how during his career he has had to learn the value of respect. He wrote, “Throughout my life, my choices have brought me to my faith, my educational opportunities, my community service, and my seeking and accepting election to public office. Each of these has presented a challenge for me to examine my ‘due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others,’ or one dictionary definition of respect.”


Stephen Gates is a current partner in Toyota South located in Richmond Kentucky. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University in 1975. He began his journey as a lot attendant at Bud Gates Chevrolet, his father’s business, and eventually he moved on to work in parts, service, and the body shop. In the 1970’s, Gates started his own company, selling accessories and financial services to new car dealers in Indianapolis. He went on to make strategic career goals, selling his business, working with BMW’s Financial Services/Dealer services, and eventually returning to retail before reaching his current position as partner of Toyota South. While working in his current position, he has watched as his company has successfully branched out into three states and multiple locations.

Gates serves as a board member of the Lexington Dream Factory (an organization that provides “dreams” to seriously ill children and their families). He has also served as a Board Member of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, an Advisory Board Member of the Bank of Lexington, an Advisory Board Member of Baptist Healthcare Richmond, and a member of Kiwanis Frankfort.

Gates shared his experiences with integrity throughout his career in his writing: “I was taught to create an atmosphere of trust and caring,” he wrote. “I hope that every time that we correct a mistake or do something beyond any expectation that our team members will understand that integrity is just not something that one talks about. It’s just the way you live.”


Connie Lawson is the former mayor of Richmond, Kentucky. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Kentucky University in 1971 from the College of Business. Lawson, before beginning her undergraduate schooling, was a Licensed Real Estate Broker. She was also a co-owner of BHHS Foster Realtors. Later, she went on to become the Director of People’s Bank of Madison County and held that role for many years. She was the President of Madison County Board of Realtors, President of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, Richmond City Commissioner, and held her former Mayor position from 2002-2010. Lawson was also named Business Woman of the Year in 1985.

As the former mayor, she was often placed in a position to make crucial decisions for the good of the people. While stressful, it was the amount of responsibility that made her the successful businesswoman she was. Lawson wrote that, “with success, comes higher responsibility which brings accountability in all roles of life”. Without responsibility, Lawson believes, you will not be as successful in the business realm as possible. Responsibility is a fundamental value to success in business.


Dr. Janna Vice currently serves as the Faculty Employability Fellows Director with the Quality Assurance Commons. After receiving her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Business Education from Eastern Kentucky University, she went on to obtain her Doctorate from the University of Kentucky. She also completed Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Management and Leadership in Education. Vice worked at both Berea College and Alice Lloyd College before coming to EKU as a Professor of Business Communication. She held the position of Provost for EKU, a role she kept for eight years.

Vice focused her efforts on student success, academic excellence, and faculty-student engagement. She established an ongoing Assurance-of-Learning Program at EKU that focused on the continuous improvement of academic programs as well as a student-success campaign.

In her writing about the value of honesty she said, “Perhaps one way to describe honesty is ‘doing the right thing when no one is watching.’ I believe that people who are both truthful and discerning in their communication will be viewed as being honest.”

A different writing was released each week of October for students to review.  Faculty were encouraged to integrate the writings and each of the EAW pillars into their classroom curriculum that week. To view the writings, visit:

Written by Christina Dunavan, Student Writer

Published on October 01, 2019

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