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Institute for Ethics in Public Life

Guided by a belief in education’s role of fostering informed discourse, the Institute for Ethics in Public Life promotes the idea that citizens should make sound choices based on free speech and that those in public life should lead in humility and govern for the public good.

The institute supports SUNY Plattsburgh’s efforts to inculcate in its students and members of the community-at-large values of citizenship and civic responsibility. It does so primarily by providing fellowships for Plattsburgh faculty to spend a semester in residence at the institute. While in residence, fellows are supported in developing the capabilities to integrate issues of ethics and civic responsibility into their teaching. The ethics institute fellowship program is central to the mission of the institute. Since its founding in 1999, the institute has provided fellowship experiences to almost 100 faculty members of the college from across 30 departments. 

In addition to its fellowship program, the institute also sponsors a variety of programs and events dedicated to the study of moral and ethical thought and the tenet of civic responsibility.

The institute has become the intellectual dynamo of the campus, energizing not just the present fellows but all of us who have been fortunate to work there. This can be measured in scholarly activity, in interdisciplinary awareness, and especially in our teaching. 
Dr. Douglas Skopp, former fellow


The Institute for Ethics in Public Life emerged in response to the college’s 1996 Strategic Plan, which included a central initiative on “Civic Responsibility.”

The purpose of this initiative is to cultivate in students the qualities of engaged, committed and ethically responsive citizenship. The institute is a key vehicle by which the college addresses this purpose.

About our Founding Director

Portrait of Tom Moran

Dr. Thomas Moran served at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh for forty-four years, holding a wide range of positions at the college, including SUNY Distinguished Service Professor, the college’s provost, and the founding director of the Institute for Ethics in Public Life. Moran also co-directed a grant supported by The National Endowment for the Humanities entitled “Exploring the Foundations of Civic Responsibility.” The project was sponsored in conjunction with the Ethics Institute at Dartmouth College, where he held an appointment as a visiting scholar in 2005.

His scholarly and teaching interests focus on ethics in administration and public life, leadership and organizational analysis. Moran also has held positions in state and national higher education organizations, including as an associate in the Higher Education Research Program at the Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany, New York, as well as sitting as a member of the Assessment Leadership Council of the American Association of Higher Education in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he has served in leadership roles on the boards of a number of regional human service agencies, as well as local governmental ethics boards. The college has bestowed a number of awards on him. Moran also is the recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service. He holds a Ph.D. in administration and policy analysis from the University at Albany.

The Institute for Ethics in Public Life is generously supported by gifts to the Plattsburgh College Foundation. 

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