Initiative aims at developing character

“Character… it starts with me.”

In the future, character may be starting with NKU.

Lisa Coors, an adjunct professor in the business department, hopes to bring character to NKU through “The Character Initiative at Northern Kentucky University.”

The initiative, the brainchild of Coors and Mary Andres Russell, is part of the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky’s community effort to strengthen character.

The Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky is a non-profit, non-religious group that, according to their Web site, is “devoted to promoting good character in order to improve the lives of our residents and enrich the spirit of our community.”

Coors envisions NKU embracing The Character Initiative at Northern Kentucky University and becoming a “university of character.”

While there are elementary schools and high schools in the area that are considered “schools of character”, NKU would be the first “university of character.”

“This would give NKU a leading edge,” said Coors.

NKU would have to follow a few steps before becoming a “university of character.”

First, NKU would adopt a character charter for formal recognition.

Then, Coors and Russell would train administration, faculty, and students in the basics of character enhancement.

Additionally, a “Department of University of Character” and a “University Character Course” could be developed, in partnership with the NKU Student Honor Code.

According to Russell, “NKU seemed like the place to start” because of the honor code.

“We feel we could really enhance what you are doing with the honor code,” she said.

In their training sessions, Coors and Russell use exercises to show how character qualities apply in life. For example, in an exercise called “Heroes of Character”, participants identify who their personal heroes are. Whether a well-known figure like

Mother Teresa or an unknown person like a neighbor, participants must then describe what character qualities they exhibit that make them a “hero.”

The exercise “gets it to a personal level,” said Coors.

Coors has already utilized character traits in her classes. For example, students brought in articles concerning corporate scandals, like Enron, and they then analyzed the impact of character in those instances.

Maureen Cruse, a non-traditional student who took Coors’ class last semester, feels that the character traits are “basically tools to help people become and remain vigilant in their effort to live with respect and consideration for others.”

“In our class, she would introduce character traits within the context of the class, and then discuss how character is likely to influence work or business relationships,” Cruse said.

For now, Coors and Russell are setting up meetings with leadership groups at NKU in order to pursue the character initiative further.

“Lisa and I have had initial meetings with a few people [at NKU] who have been very receptive,” said Russell.

“I believe that Ms. Coor’s character initiative would be a wonderful opportunity for NKU,” said Cruse.

Coors added, “The students are the ones who are going to benefit the most.”

For more information about the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, visit