Naval Academy ethics adviser appointed She will be adviser to superintendent, teach sophomore course

December 04, 1996|By Tom Bowman | Tom Bowman,SUN STAFF

Troubled by wrongdoing ranging from drugs and cheating to a car theft ring, the Naval Academy has a new weapon: a Georgetown University expert on character and virtue.

Nancy Sherman, 45, who also has taught philosophy at the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, was selected yesterday by Navy Secretary John H. Dalton to a new ethics chair.

During her one-year term, which will begin next month, Sherman will be an adviser to Adm. Charles R. Larson, the academy's superintendent. She also will train faculty and staff members on character development techniques and teach a sophomore-level ethics course.

"It is absolutely essential that our Navy and Marine Corps leaders possess the ethical foundation which will allow them to make tough decisions during their careers," said Dalton, a 1964 academy graduate. "Dr. Sherman will further enhance the academy's character-development program."

Sherman earned her doctorate from Harvard University and is the author of "The Fabric of Character and Making a Necessity of Virtue." After the academy's 1994 cheating scandal, which was the largest in the academy's 151-year history, implicating 135 midshipmen, Sherman was invited to prepare a remedial study for midshipmen who were not among the 29 expelled.

Yesterday, during a Pentagon ceremony marking her selection, Sherman noted that some may ask how classroom discussion and case studies can influence character and values, which are "set in place before a student enters the academy."

"But we also know that institutions shape individuals at all stages of their lives," she said. "Institutions, like persons, live and breathe values that are transmitted consciously and unconsciously to those who live in their midst."

The chair is endowed with a $1.5 million gift from William K. Brehm and Dr. Ernst Volgenau, chairman and president, respectively, of SRA International Inc., an Arlington, Va., consulting and system integration company. Volgenau is a 1955 graduate of the academy.

Pub Date: 12/04/96

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