President Huxman offers keynote to 76 Rotary Club’s Code of Ethics Award winners

If you want to be ethical, start by being kind to the pizza delivery driver.

That’s what Eastern Mennonite University President Susan Schultz Huxman told hundreds of people gathered for the Harrisonburg Rotary Club’s annual Code of Ethics Awards luncheon on Monday.

Dr. Susan Schultz Huxman, president of Eastern Mennonite University. (EMU file photo)

“Remember, the exercise in good ethical judgment isn’t about large, high-stakes, newsworthy matters,” she told the crowd at James Madison University’s Festival Conference and Student Center. “It’s about simple, mundane ordinary matters, like how you treat the pizza delivery driver.”

Each year, the city’s Rotary Club recognizes students from Harrisonburg and Rockingham County who demonstrate ethical behavior in and beyond the classroom.

Rotary President Andy Vanhook said the program has been part of the club’s history “for as long as anyone can remember.”

This year, 73 students from 36 schools were chosen by their teachers and administrators. Each school, except the Dayton Learning Center, selected a boy and girl for the school award. The names and photos of all the winners were published in today’s Daily News-Record.

Huxman was the keynote speaker for the luncheon and her talk, “The Ethics of Leadership: A Lost Art,” focused on ethical behavior.

“Be a good Samaritan,” she said. “Remember, it’s not your physical size. It’s not your fancy title. It’s not your income level that makes a difference in terms of ethical leadership. It’s the size of your heart.”

The culmination of her address centered on an essay published by NPR titled “Be Cool To The Pizza Delivery Dude.” The essay lays out several reasons to be kind to the person who delivers your pizza.

“Ethical leadership requires you to be passionate above all else; to look out for others, not yourself. And not to expect anyone to know of your good deeds,” Huxman said. “Who knew there could be a memorable ethical lesson in how to treat pizza delivery people?”

Laura Toni-Holsinger, executive director of the United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, told the students to remain a beacon of ethical behavior. She said the business leaders gathered in the room will take notice.

“If you hear nothing else today, it is us telling you to keep being you,” she said. “You are the people that they want to hire.”