University of Montana ethics professor and founder of UM’s Practical Ethics Center Deni Elliott may be leaving (she announced the move over the summer), but she won’t be severing ties with the University or the town.
“I’m not selling my house or anything,” says Elliott.
Next semester, Elliott will be at the University of Florida’s St. Petersburg campus as the Poynter-Jamison chair in media ethics and press policy. But she says that she will remain in close contact with her professional peers at UM and keep her Montana Public Radio show, “Ethically Speaking,” going—Elliott is currently in talks to syndicate the show.
Elliott says she’s leaving because, in so many words, she’s ready for new challenges. Asked if there was anything the university could have done to keep her, she pauses.
“I can’t answer that,” she replies.
UM President George Dennison and Provost Lois Muir both say they will be sad to see Elliott go and that she’ll be missed, but asked the same question about keeping Elliott, neither could come up with an answer. Muir says that the University of Florida’s offer was very appealing and Dennison adds that UM made the best counter offer it could.
With Elliott leaving, the future of the Practical Ethics Center—founded in 1996—is uncertain. Elliott says that Dennison is actively pursuing funding to create an endowed chair at the center, but Dennison says the endowed chair is part of “a long list” of projects UM is pursuing. Originally, Muir had planned to immediately start the search for a new center head, but after speaking with colleagues she instead formed a committee to study where and how the center should grow. After that committee delivers its findings in April, a national search for a director should begin.
“Deni did a great job of creating a high-profile institution, but her leaving doesn’t mean that anyone has anything to worry about as far as the Ethics Center’s future,” says Muir.