2020 James F. Barker Ethics in Action Award Honors Coach Dabo Swinney

Coach Dabo Swinney

On Monday, March 23, 2020, Clemson University’s Rutland Institute for Ethics will present Coach Dabo Swinney with the James F. Barker Ethics in Action Award. The dinner celebration will be held at The Madren Conference Center, located at 230 Madren Center Drive in Clemson. Coach Swinney’s nomination was unanimously approved by the Rutland Advisory Board.

In 2014, the Rutland Institute for Ethics Advisory Board elected to name the Institute’s highest honor after James F. Barker, the 14th president of Clemson University, in recognition of the ways he exemplified integrity, thereby bringing ethics into focus in the best possible way: by living it. Today, the award recognizes individuals who have made an impact in ethical leadership and/or ethical decision-making. It is an opportunity to celebrate someone who embodies what we want our Clemson student body to emulate. The award is given annually, and is one of the largest programs operated by the Rutland Institute for Ethics. Barker himself received the inaugural Ethics in Action Award in 2014. In 2015, Greenville nonprofit executive and founder of The Family Effect, Scott T. Dishman, received the distinction. Minor Mickel Shaw, philanthropist and community leader was the recipient in 2016, and former Charleston mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. was presented the fourth annual James F. Barker Ethics in Action Award on February 10, 2018. Tobin Cassells III, CEO of Southeastern Freight Lines Inc. was the 2019 recipient.

Dr. William McCoy, director of the Rutland Institute for Ethics, was especially proud of the Advisory Board’s choice. As stated by McCoy, “Having come from Northern Illinois University to Clemson in 2018, I was aware of Coach Swinney’s reputation; but I was blown away with just how accurate his reputation was and continues to be.” Swinney has led the Tigers to a place of monumental athletic success during his tenure at Clemson University, and he is poised to strengthen his winning record with the constant inclusion of exceptional team talent. Although Swinney contributes his success to his strong and unwavering spiritual beliefs, the bedrock of his demonstrable success is illustrated in his “walk the talk” attitude, which can be observed on and off the field. As stated by McCoy, “We are proud to give this award to someone who does his best to live his values unapologetically, and who so freely gives more of himself than what is required.”

Clemson Athletic Director, Dan Radakovich agrees, "It's been a privilege over the past seven years to see first-hand how Dabo embodies the core tenants of the James F. Barker Ethics in Action Award. One of the first words that comes to mind about Dabo is "integrity." I see it in the way that he is with his family, and the way that he runs our football program. 

"Dabo is a wonderful ambassador for Clemson University, and the emphasis he places on doing things "the right way" is contagious. There's no question that he exemplifies all of the ideals of a leader, and that bears itself out in the young men that leave his program. The identity of the football program is marked by its commitment to ethical conduct, leadership and integrity."

Sponsorship information can be requested from ethics@clemson.edu. Specific questions about the award can be directed to Dr. William C. McCoy at: wmccoy@clemson.edu or by calling (864) 656-6147.


Ethics Champion Sponsors

Southeastern Freight Lines     Mrs. Betty Poe


Ethics Advocate Sponsors

AFL       Department of Inclusion & Equity    Clemson Undergraduate Studies

Clemson University Foundation        Nelson Mullins

Mr. James Bostic Jr.
Ms. Jan McCrary
Ms. Minor Shaw


Ethics Supporter Sponsors

Dr. Stephan Barton
Ms. Nicole Clifton
Mr. Clete Cordero
Bob & Debbie Dubose
Mr. Kelly Durham
Mr. Harry Durham
Mr. Sam Erwin
Mr. Charles Grace
Mr. John Knapp
Mr. Robert Rutland
Mr. Dick Sargent
Mrs. Caroline Stewart
Mr. Joseph Turner
Mrs. Nancy Whitworth
Mr. Bill Vandiver


Purpose of Award

The purpose of the award is to recognize and celebrate action that exemplifies integrity and, in a continuing and constructive way, encourage commitment to ethical conduct and the value of integrity.

Method of Selection

The Rutland Institute for Ethics Advisory Board weighs in on the selection process from the list of nominees.

Criteria for Selection

Recipients will be recognized for action(s) and significant accomplishment that reveal deep and sustained commitment to ethical conduct and the value of integrity: nominations will include a narrative description of the action(s) and accomplishment(s) that prompt the nomination and be supported by independent references (i.e., sources in addition to the person submitting the nomination).


The Rutland Institute Advisory Board decided to name the Institute's award The James F. Barker Ethics in Action Award in recognition of the "ways in which he has exemplified integrity thereby bringing ethics into focus in the best possible way: by living it.... [and, accordingly, to make the award] an ongoing and constructive way to recognize and encourage commitment to ethical conduct and the value of integrity."