The Robert Zicklin Center for Corporate Integrity (CCI), formerly the Center for Financial Integrity, was established in 2002 to keep an informed spotlight on the changing issues of governance and financial reporting confronting U.S. corporations and capital markets.
Public confidence in U.S. business has eroded in recent years, and names like Enron, Andersen, and Canary Capital have created a new vocabulary of cynicism. The reputations of many corporations, banks, mutual funds, accounting firms, and senior executives have been badly tarnished. Nonetheless, CCI's mission and underlying philosophy are rooted in a belief in the fundamental strength of American enterprise.
The goal of CCI says former New York State Comptroller Ned Regan, who helped found the center while serving as President of Baruch College, is to strengthen the American economy through discourse, education, and research that leads to greater awareness of the fiduciary and ethical obligations among the many participants in our economic system and, when necessary, to support new laws and regulations that will bolster the probity of American business.
The modern corporation is a wealth creation instrument of virtually limitless power and efficiency, with an unsurpassed capacity for marshalling capital, human resources, knowledge and intellect to achieve its goals. It is no exaggeration to say that the modern corporation is central to the progress of the world's developed – and developing – societies. In the United States, it is the sine qua non of the highest standard of living in human history.
But there is a downside to America's dependence on its business firms. The fallout from flaws and, worse, breaches in trust, can be catastrophic: Billions are lost in investment capital, government revenues decline and tens of thousands of jobs may be at risk. A Brookings Institution study estimates that the recent corporate scandals cost the U.S. economy $35 billion in the first year alone. In New York State, the losses associated with the scandals amounted to some $2.9 billion in economic activity and $1 billion in uncollected taxes in FY2003.
In 2002, Baruch College created a forum for the discussion of issues raised by the Enron collapse and other corporate scandals. Baruch appeared to be a natural home for these important discussions. The largest public business school in the United States and the only one located in New York City, Baruch annually graduates some 2,500 students who go on to careers in business and public service. Scholarship and resources are provided by Baruch's Stan Ross Department of Accountancy, one of the nation's premiere centers for research on ethical financial reporting practices.
In addition to the Zicklin School of Business, the college comprises and draws upon the resources of the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, highly regarded for its programs in ethics and business communications; and the School of Public Affairs, a national leader in the field of nonprofit management.