Center for Ethical Leadership

Our Mission: Producing Leaders of
Uncommon Integrity

When you graduate from Washington & Jefferson College, you will be recognized by leading employers and top graduate schools for your character, maturity and readiness to take your place in the profession of your choosing. Unlike other colleges and universities, W&J ensures that all undergraduates benefit from an education uniquely designed to develop their individual potential as leaders known for what our mission statement calls uncommon integrity. Our Center for Ethical Leadership supports college-wide opportunities for you to become a changemaker in your profession and community, as you gain the confidence to lead others to envision solutions that serve the common good.

Old Main Building

Your journey in ethical leadership begins with your arrival on campus as our student leaders invite you to affirm W&J’s Statement of Community Values. Established by our Student Government Association, this statement is the foundation for life together in a student community that shares a commitment to:

  • Promote a culture of respect throughout the College community;
  • Respect the privacy, property and freedom of others;
  • Practice personal and academic integrity and expect it from others;
  • Respect the dignity and work of all individuals; and
  • Promote the diversity of opinions, ideas, and backgrounds of others.

As your classes get under way, you will participate in a First Year Seminar that includes opportunities to begin your exploration of the skills and commitments needed by ethical leaders. Your first two semesters will also provide ways to discover more about yourself, your values, and your potential to grow as a leader throughout your time in college.

No matter what majors or fields of study interest you, our faculty will ensure that you become proficient in identifying and critically examining ethical issues in the context of many different courses and subject areas. A hallmark of your professional preparedness will be your ability to apply and promote the ethical standards of your intended career.

Duo images of leadership

Beyond the classroom, you will find an array of opportunities to put ethical leadership into action. The activities of many student organizations, such as the four-year program of the Washington Fellows, are designed for this purpose. In athletics, our coaches ensure that team development is a catalyst for developing character and leadership capacities. And throughout your four-year journey, you will learn to engage ethical issues in the larger world through guest speakers, alumni mentors, and a wide range of practical experiences and service projects.

A signature component of W&J’s commitment to ethical leadership is our annual Symposium on Democracy. This week-long focus of the whole campus is highlighted by a full day of special programming replacing regular classes with presentations by internationally known scholars and leaders, as well as interactive sessions led by students and professors inviting multiple perspectives on the state of democracy in the U.S. and abroad. This tradition carries on the vision of our founders who saw the need for well-educated professionals dedicated to serving others and working for the betterment of society as responsible citizens.

Like generations of successful graduates since 1781, your life as a leader of uncommon integrity can be Founded Here.

W&J Logo

Ethical Leadership:
Every Student's Potential

Washington & Jefferson College is committed to the belief that ethical leaders are made, not born, and that every student can master the competencies and commitments needed to:

Foster Communities of Respect and Inclusion

  • Recognize and articulate one’s own identity and values as a basis for ethical action.
  • Cultivate empathy and cultural competence to value others and their unique perspectives and experiences.
  • Take responsibility for contributing to the success and well-being of individuals and one’s community or profession.
  • Practice inclusivity and collaboration in pursuit of goals and solutions that serve the common good.

Provide Leadership to Resolve Ethical Issues and Conflicts

  • Recognize and respond to ethical questions or issues.
  • Learn and apply conflict resolution skills to challenging situations.
  • Invite and consider different perspectives in dialogue with others.
  • Make decisions and take action after careful and reflective analysis.

Advocate for Ethical Values and Lead Change

  • Hold oneself accountable to the ethical standards and expectations of a chosen profession.
  • Advocate for the highest standards of ethics and challenge others to do likewise.
  • Understand how to effect informed change where needed, and courageously act to effect that change.
  • Champion creative, ethical, and authentic visions that imagine a more positive future and invite others to participate in those aspirations.
commencement ceremony

What's Next?

Request more information from W&J's Admissions team.