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Last May, Timothy Rigas resigned as chief financial officer of Adelphia, one of the nation's leading cable corporations.

In an unusual scenario, his father, John Rigas, the company's founder and chairman, and his brother Michael, a vice president, also resigned.

The once powerful family is now facing charges of collecting $3.1 billion from Adelphia through illegal loans. Timothy Rigas could face up to 100 years in prison.

John Gardner Black has already faced sentencing. He is in the midst of serving 41 months in prison.

In 1997, Black was accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of investment fraud. The local businessman managed accounts for over 50 Pennsylvania school districts. When many of his investment choices proved disappointing, Black allegedly sent phony statements to the districts to hide the losses.

Black was found guilty in 1999 of cheating the districts out of $69.5 million.

But Timothy Rigas and John Gardner Black share more than just charges of corporate swindling -- they both boast Wharton diplomas. The cases of Rigas and Black, among others, have raised questions about the effectiveness of business education -- especially when it comes to ethics.

While Wharton has had an ethics program in place for over a decade, some doubt its effectiveness. Others question the validity of business ethics courses in the first place, arguing that honesty and integrity are not concepts that can be taught in a classroom. But in 1991, Wharton decided it should, at the very least, try.

The school implemented the Ethics Project, a program to integrate an ethical component into 12 Wharton departments, including Accounting, Marketing and Finance.

This was the time of Michael Milken -- a man both revered and detested at his alma mater. He has gained recognition as one of Wharton's most notable white-collar criminal alumni.

After receiving his MBA from Wharton, Milken traded junk bonds -- high-risk, high-yield bonds -- as an executive at Drexel Burnham Lambert, Inc. Regarded as a financial genius, Milken has amassed a personal net worth of over $775 million.

He currently ranks No. 301 among Forbes' 400 Richest Americans.

Experts claim that Milken revolutionized the American economy into the world power that it is today. But in 1988, his once-pristine image was shattered.

That year, the SEC claimed Milken cheated investors out of $1 billion. He was charged with securities fraud and faced accusations of market manipulation and insider trading.

In 1990, Milken pleaded guilty to securities fraud and market manipulation. He was fined over $1 billion and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

He was never found guilty of insider trading, but is banned from the securities industry for life.

After serving only 22 months in jail, Milken returned to the business world as a strategic business consultant. The SEC accused Milken of violating his lifetime ban through his later business actions, and in 1998, Milken agreed to pay $47 million in penalties.

Milken's scandalous case is just one reported example of corruption in the lucrative business world. And Wharton is not the only top-ranked business school to be hit hard by scandals.

In 2001, Enron became a household name. The highly successful electricity and natural gas corporation faced allegations of manipulating over $1 billion in profits. The company has since filed for Chapter 11.

In the wake of the scandal, the company's corporate heads were thrust into the national spotlight -- criminals with top-notch business educations.

Former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow received an MBA from Northwestern's Kellogg School, and former Enron Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Skilling received his MBA from Harvard Business School.

Such high-profile scandals have caused experts to scrutinize business ethics programs in higher education. Some, like DePaul University Business Ethics Professor Laura Hartman, remain confident that ethics requires its own spot in a business curriculum.

"I'd be out of a job if I didn't think ethics could be taught," Hartman says.

Hartman is the president of the Society of Business Ethics as well as a published author on the subject. She says she believes that Wharton has made one of the most significant efforts to integrate ethics into the curriculum.

Harvard and Northwestern, among other schools, also offer courses examining business ethics.

But some question just how much the ethics programs can actually accomplish.

"It's not as if Jeff Skilling can take a semester on business ethics and he would be changed into a person who wouldn't do anything wrong," Legal Studies Professor and business ethics expert Thomas Donaldson says. "There is not a vaccine."

Until 1991, ethics was not a part of the Wharton curriculum. Since that year, the project has evolved into the Wharton Ethics Program, which offers courses designed for students to examine case studies from an ethical perspective.

Legal Studies Professor Alan Strudler, the program's director, says he believes the courses should direct students toward ethical decisions.

"We discuss ethics from an organizational and individual point of view, helping students think about how to reason with people who view the world differently," Strudler says. "We try to make the classroom experience as fruitful as possible."

The program is ambitious in its nature, but offers only four courses -- Corporate Responsibility and Ethics, International Business Ethics, Ethics and Responsibility and Ethics in Business and Economics.

Corporate Responsibility and Ethics is the largest of the courses, offered in five sections this semester.

Wharton sophomore Grant Long believes that the class has good intentions but is not always stimulating.

"It has its good parts and its bad parts -- it can get pretty boring at times with all the case studies," Long says.

The sophomore is taking the course to fulfill the Societal and Organizational Environment requirement of the Wharton undergraduate degree.

Students can also fulfill this requirement by enrolling in both Introduction to Law and Legal Processes and Business in the Global Political Environment -- meaning undergraduates can graduate from Wharton without ever taking a course in ethics.

The program was in place while Mark Yagalla attended Wharton, but he only lasted one full year before dropping out.

In 2001 , the then 23-year-old Yagalla was charged with mail fraud in conjunction with illegally mismanaging clients' accounts.

Yagalla allegedly stole millions of dollars from his clients and is infamous for spending cash on Bentleys, exotic vacation homes and several Playmate girlfriends.

But even with such recent scandals, Wharton professors remain proud of how far their ethics program has come.

"We're proud of what we do. It would be a shame if this wasn't part of our curriculum," Donaldson says.

While the program aims to tackle the issue of ethics, some say ethics are not the root of the problem.

"It's a very fine line between law and ethics," Law and Management and Real Estate Professor William Tyson says.

Tyson is an expert in securities regulation and criminal law who keeps an eye out for these white-collar crimes.

For over 20 years, the Wharton professor has been collecting newspaper clippings from business-related arrests involving Wharton alumni.

"I'm on the ball," he says. "I like to keep track of all people who are breaking the law."

Over the years, he has lost count of the number of clippings in his collection.

While Tyson supports Wharton's program, he is not convinced that ethics can be taught.

"There [are] always going to be a few rotten apples in the barrel," he says. "There [are] always going to be a few white-collar people who want to make more money and cross the line."

For now, Wharton Ethics is just a small program within a major school, one that many outsiders still associate with greed and hedonism.

Strolling through campus, students are continuously reminded of the multi-millionaires educated in Wharton classrooms: Huntsman Corporation founder Jon Huntsman, Co-CEO and Charles Schwab President David Pottruck and Nine West Group founder Jerome Fisher all ring familiar to the Wharton community.

There is no building named after Milken.

In 1990, Milken's portrait was even removed from the the Wharton "Hall of Fame."

The portrait used to hang among the likes of J.D. Power and Ron Perelman along the walls of Steinberg-Dietrich Hall -- a building whose namesake has come under fire recently.

Saul Steinberg was the chairman of the insurance giant Reliance. In 2000, the corporation was removed from the New York Stock Exchange, sending the company into bankruptcy court.

That same year, Steinberg was sued by his own mother for defaulting on $5 million she lent him.

The case was eventually dropped.

With images of money and high-profile alums with less-than-stellar track records bombarding students, where does that leave America's future business leaders now engulfed in the rigors of a Wharton education?

Is it logical for ethics to be included among an education centered on net gain and marginal profit?

Strudler and Donaldson cannot answer such questions. But they can go to the classrooms and educate tomorrow's business leaders.

Milken has tried to right his ship. He is in good graces with most of the business world and was considered for a presidential pardon by Bill Clinton.

Years after stealing money, he is currently one of the largest philanthropists in the world.

He founded the prostate cancer foundation CapCURE and is also a primary donor to the Milken Family Foundation, which supports 1,000 philanthropic organizations worldwide.

But still, Wharton alumni nestle their way into major corporate scandals. Wharton graduate William Floyd sits on the board of directors at WorldCom, a corporation that allegedly gave its founder, Bernard Ebbers, $400 million in illegal loans.

Another Wharton graduate, Yataka Kobayashi, is on the board of directors at the Xerox corporation, which the SEC found to have illegally boosted its income by $1.5 billion.

With the new $140 million Huntsman Hall, Wharton students have the world at their fingertips. They just need to be taught what's theirs for the taking. And for some, this isn't about ethics at all -- it's legal matter.

"It's not that they've violated ethics, they broke the law," Tyson says.

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