On Thursday, Jan. 26, Presbyterian College hosted its annual Robert M. Vance Lecture Series on Business Ethics. The speaker, William “Bill” Barnet III is the CEO of Barnet Development Company and former mayor of Spartanburg.
Barnet is the first speaker in the series to personally know Robert M. Vance.
The lecture series was created to honor its namesake, who considered ethics, honesty, and integrity to be extremely important. The lecture, founded by the Baily Foundation, is a tribute to the late businessman’s legacy and his numerous contributions to the Clinton community. The series serves as an opportunity for high-profile leaders in the business world to speak with PC students on how to run a successful business that maintains a moral code in which employees can take pride and use as a guide for day-to-day activities.
“Bill is a person who exemplifies the character traits Robert had,” said Bob Staton, president of Presbyterian College.
On Dec. 1, 1968, Barnet joined his family’s textile business, William Barnet & Son, Inc., which was founded in 1898. In 1976 he was elected president and CEO, and in 2001, Barnet sold the company to a management team.
“I want to have a conversation, and I want to share some of my experiences,” Barnet said. “If you really want to struggle with ethical questions, you have to take all the facts you have and really decide what is right and wrong.”
During his lecture, Barnet used several examples from his life to define what ethics as a concept means to him personally.
“Ethics, like integrity, is a profoundly personal choice,” Barnet said. “It’s not a collection of words, it’s about you and your choices.”
A portion of his story, which included experiences with a Ken Feinberg lecture at Dartmouth College after September 11, as well as experiences with Vance and Roger Milliken. In this segment, Barnet had the audience consider the one word written on Milliken’s burial site, “builder.”
“If there was anything I would pray for you, it is that you will go out of this place, out of PC and out into the world, and when you see tragedy, be builders,” Barnet concluded to his audience.
Presbyterian College is located on a striking 240-acre campus in Clinton, between Columbia and Greenville, S.C. Offering challenging academics and a culture of honor, ethics, and service that prepares students to be leaders in communities, PC offers its students the benefit of engaging with an exceptional faculty who take individual interest in their students’ well-being, both personally and in the classroom. The Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy is dedicated to the ideals of leadership, honor to the profession, and service to the community. For more information about Presbyterian College, visit www.presby.edu.