Praxis Award recognizes commitment to social responsibility

Gregory Doyle

Villanova’s 2009 Praxis Award in Professional Ethics recognized Amy Domini as this year’s recipient for her commitment to social responsibility on March 31.

Since 2007, the award has been given to those in academic or professional fields who demonstrate a dedication to ethics and serving the common good. The winner of the award is announced in the fall and the ceremony is held in the spring.

“There is a committee of faculty from the four undergraduate colleges and the Law School,” said Mark Doorley, director of the ethics program. “Members are Doris Brogan of the Law School, Nick Rongione from VSB, Frank Falcone from Engineering, Barbara Ott from Nursing, Brian Ohta of Arts and Sciences, Karyn Hollis of Arts and Sciences, the associate director of ethics, Brett Wilmot and me. We solicit nominations from the University community.”

According to the Praxis Award Web site, nominees should exemplify ethical behavior in their respective fields, promote and encourage integrity, work toward a greater good, conduct research in the field of ethics or influence the practice of ethics through professional works or leadership.

“In its own way, the Praxis Award in Professional Ethics celebrates the University’s commitment to a holistic education,” Doorley said. “We celebrate people who take seriously their role as a responsible member of their professional community, or who use their academic position to advance the conversation about the role of ethics in the professions.”

Domini, founder and CEO of Domini Social Investments, was a pioneer in connecting investments to social responsibility.

Since the 1980s, her company has effectively used shareholders’ investments to promote professional ethics among other corporations.

Domini has helped establish means of restoring the economy through ethical investments, according to the program’s Web Site.

Domini’s encouragement and dedication to professional ethics is visible through her published works, “Socially Responsible Investing: Making a Difference and Making Money,” “The Challenges of Wealth” and “Ethical Investments and Investing for Good Social Investment Almanac.” Since then she has continued to promote ethics in the corporate world.

Alongside her business partners, Domini established the Domini 400 Social Index. Similar to other stock exchange indices, such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Standard & Poors 500, Domini’s index measures companies based on environmental and social responsibility standards.

“Each dean of the undergraduate colleges and the Law School have been quite generous in their support of this award, and the first two recipients are outstanding human beings and professionals,” Doorley said. “I know the same is true of Ms. Amy Domini, particularly her commitment to socially responsible oversight of her clients’ financial resources.  She is not only a person who has decided to move in this direction herself; her career exemplifies her commitment to engaging the rest of her profession to recognize their responsibilities in this arena as well.”

The Praxis Award is not the first time Domini has been recognized for her dedication to professional ethics. According to the Domini Social Investments Web site, in 2005 she was listed as one of the world’s most influential people in Time magazine. In 2008, she was among the 100 most influential people on corporate governance and in the board room in Directorship magazine.

Past recipients include Joel J. Nobel, M.D., who founded the Emergency Care Research Institute, and John Hansen-Flaschen, M.D., Chief of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

“These kinds of awards are the University’s way of saying to its students that the recipients of the awards are people we ought to emulate,” Doorley said.  “They embody in some way the values and aspirations of Villanova University.  It is important that we celebrate their lives and their accomplishments.”