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October 1, 2008

Ethics Center receives $5 million gift, new name

The Center for Ethics in Society at Stanford has received a new $5 million gift from longtime supporters Bowen H. "Buzz" McCoy, '58, and his wife, Barbara.

The center has been renamed the Bowen H. McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society in honor of the McCoys' support. The new gift provides $4 million for the center and $1 million for postdoctoral fellows in ethics.

"With the additional resources that this gift provides, we are poised to play an important role in deepening the campus' engagement with ethics," said Debra Satz, the Marta Sutton Weeks Professor of Ethics in Society, who was recently named director of the center.

Through research, teaching and engagement, the center, which was founded in 2003, seeks to advance foundational moral and political theory, deepen moral-reasoning skills and increase the opportunities for moral reflection across the university and its surrounding community.

The new gift will allow the center to offer a new postdoctoral scholars program and undergraduate fellowships aimed at engaging students in solving public problems, as well as increased outreach to the community as a whole. The center plans to sponsor new classes, run conferences, collaborate with community partners and host high-profile speakers for ethics discussions.

"Ethics play a critical role in Stanford's mission of educating students who will become leaders in today's complex and interrelated world," university President John Hennessy said. "The McCoys have long been our partners in this effort, and this gift will help us to broaden the scope of activities at the ethics center."

The center is presently endowed at $14 million: a cumulative $10 million donated by the McCoy family (including the new McCoy gift), gifts from other donors, and $3 million in matching funds from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

The McCoys have generously contributed to ethics education at Stanford over the years. In 2004, they endowed the Ethics in Society Program. The program will now be integrated into the Ethics Center, which is linked with students and faculty in every school. (Rob Reich, associate professor of political science, has succeeded Satz as program director.)

Satz said she hopes to increase collaborative projects across campus in areas like the environment, education and social science. She plans to continue with series such as "The Ethics of Food and the Environment," which brought Michael Pollan (author of In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma) and controversial Princeton professor and philosopher Peter Singer to Stanford earlier this year.

Buzz McCoy, formerly of Morgan Stanley, became involved with the study of ethics at Stanford many years ago with his first wife, Janice Arthur McCoy Miller, '60. Together, they started providing support for the study of values and ethics in the Graduate School of Business. Part of the endowment they initially provided is now also supporting the Ethics Center. He is the author of Living Into Leadership: A Journey in Ethics (Stanford University Press, 2007).

The Center for Ethics in Society, temporarily housed in the Galvez module, will move into the Stanford Law School sometime after the new law building is completed, about January 2011. Eventually, the center will house six postdoctoral fellows who will contribute to its teaching and research missions.

A full list of the center's fall events, including an October conference on ethics and education, is available at



Cynthia Haven, News Service: (650) 724-6184,

Howie Pearson, Office of Development:, (650) 725-5651


Debra Satz, McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society:

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