Professor Donald Wargo is looking out for his students. Wargo has ben in the often-corrupt business world, and he’s teaching his business students how to be ethical.
The economics teacher knows how complicated the business world – and the rest of life – can be. Once students leave college to work full-time, Wargo said he wants them to be prepared.
Wargo is the ideal person to prime business students; after all, he has a master’s degree in philosophy and a Ph.D. in economics. He spent 30 years working in real estate – 15 of those years were spent in his own business, Wargo Properties, Inc.
“About five years ago, I decided I was not happy in that business. It’s a very high-risk business,” he said.
He added that he was bothered by the large number of dishonest people he encountered. “I wanted to do something I enjoyed,” he said.
So the Philadelphia native began his teaching career at Temple. After Wargo realized that job opportunities in the field of philosophy were not readily available, he took a job working in real estate. His firsthand experiences in the business world and his philosophy background melded together, influencing his desire to teach ethics to students.
At the moment, Wargo is teaching classes on global economics, business ethics and international monetary issues. In autumn, Professor Wargo is leaving the economics department and moving to human resources.
“I will be teaching mostly business ethics,” he said.
Many people become corrupt because the company they work for is corrupt – there is peer pressure to conform to bad practices, Wargo said. He feels there “are a few bad apples” in business, but he believes that the majority of businesspeople are ethical. As company scandals like WorldCom are revealed, the white-collar world of business has begun to appear quite corrupt. Wargo has made it his goal to teach all of his students to make ethical decisions.
“Research shows that people who are unethical are unhappy. They are more prone to illness,” he said. His major goal is to instill an ethical mindset in all his students and “to make students economically literate.”
“He’s deeply intellectual and cutting edge,” said business law Professor Terry Halbert. “He teaches us … he always has books and articles for us.” Halbert said that with Wargo’s cross-disciplinary background, she hopes he will share more of his knowledge with the business law deptartment. “We’re committed in getting the ethics program out there,” she said.
Wargo has traveled extensively throughout Western Europe and Latin America.
“I’ve traveled through Ecuador and Peru. … People are much less materialistic [than in the U.S.],” he said. Wargo found that people in Latin American countries are more focused on family values. His travels have no doubt helped to shape his lectures.
Wargo has also been influenced by some individuals in his field. “My hero at Temple is Bob Giacalone [business ethics department],” he said. “My other hero is Terry Halbert,” he said. He expressed that he admired their hard work in teaching business ethics. “It’s a critical field to help our students with.”
Currently, Wargo is working on a book about business ethics, which will be completed by the summer. He doesn’t have any regrets about leaving the turbulence of the real estate world.
“I’m really happy right now. I really have found my calling,” he said. And he’s prepping students so that they too will find their callings – and of course, happiness as well.
Ellen Minsavage can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.