Helping One Another
After arranging the room for his presentation, Richard had a few minutes before his program was to begin. It was just enough time to run down the hallway, meet Joe Sullivan, and see if he could get some materials that might be helpful to him.
When entering the other meeting room, he noticed a tall, neatly groomed gentleman sitting at the speaker's table. The man's name tag confirmed that this was, indeed, Mr. Sullivan. Richard approached him, introduced himself, and explained why he could not attend the session. He then described the ambitions and needs of his university as well as some of the major questions that had arisen during his planning. He finished by asking, "If you have a handout describing your presentation, could I have a copy? I am sure that it would be very useful."
Joe Sullivan's response was curt, immediate, and direct. "I'll tell you what I'll do," he responded coldly. "Send me a first-class airplane ticket and a contract for $500 a day and I'll come to your university and give you all the help you want." With that, he turned abruptly and poured himself a glass of water. Richard, bewildered and embarrassed, retreated to the nearest exit.
The AECT Code of Ethics—Section 3, Principle 4
This type of behavior is extremely rare but it has occurred. It is understood that we all have our bad days. Perhaps Joe Sullivan was nervous about his presentation and didn't want to be disturbed. Furthermore, no one can deny his right to be compensated for consulting services to another university. However, this incident illustrates more than a lack of common courtesy. Inherent in the tradition of professional education is the dissemination of ideas and the improvement of educational practices through insights and experiences gained from others. Indeed, the primary reason why most people join a professional association and attend professional conferences is to grow professionally through contact with colleagues who share similar goals and interests. In the spirit of this tradition, therefore, Joe had an obligation to respond to Richard in some way, if only to provide him with a copy of his paper, send him an appropriate article, or provide him with references that would be useful. Indeed, if Joe's primary interest was in financial gain through consulting services, his actions in this situation probably drove away a potential client!
Paul W. Welliver