Bioethicist named director of BGeXperience

What will happen when a dynamic new director joins a thriving and growing BGSU program? The University is expecting great things, says Dr. Donald Nieman, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. George Agich

Dr. George Agich has been named the director of BGeXperience, which leads first-year students to reflect on their values and make thoughtful judgments about difficult ethical issues they will confront as students and later as citizens and professionals. The board of trustees approved the appointment Sept. 30.

A bioethicist specializing in applied ethics, Agich comes to BGSU from the Cleveland Clinic. There he was the F. J. O’Neill Chair in Clinical Bioethics and a professor of medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University.

However, Agich is not entirely new to Bowling Green, having served since 1997 as director of a unique, clinical bioethics internship program for BGSU graduate students in philosophy. He holds the position of adjunct professor in that department.

He was also a professor of clinical medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine in Ohio State University’s School of Medicine.

“This is a challenging and unique opportunity,” Agich said. “I don’t know of any other program like this in the country. The scope is incredibly large, and it is an inclusive program with faculty from across the campus.”

At the Cleveland Clinic, Agich dealt with “real-world’ issues in dealing with medical students, residents, doctors and the families of patients, said Nieman. He also held a joint appointment with the Transplant Center of the Cleveland Center Foundation.

Agich has consulted and published extensively on such topics as end-of-life issues, patient autonomy, aging, research ethics and mental illness. The author of two books and editor of two more, he has been a visiting scholar at the University of Cambridge and the University of Basel, Switzerland.

In addition to medical ethics, Agich has a strong background in business and management ethics, another dimension he brings to BGSU, Nieman added.

Before joining the Cleveland Clinic, Agich taught from 1988-97 at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, where he was founding director of the school’s Medical Ethics Program. He received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and English from Duquesne University in 1969, and his master’s and doctoral degrees in philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin in 1971 and 1976, respectively.

Agich is exceptionally well qualified to lead BGeXperience to its next level, said Nieman, who has guided the program since its inception. The program, which was begun in 2002, has grown steadily and this year, for the first time, includes all first-year students at the University.

Plans are under way to expand BGeXperience to include a sophomore course and a senior capstone course with a strong component of values and ethics. A service learning opportunity will be added for future spring semesters.

Part of Agich’s job will be to provide professional development for faculty and peer facilitators participating in the program, and to work with BGSU’s academic affairs and student affairs offices to enhance student academic success. He will also serve as spokesperson for the program, assist in fund raising and promote research on values and civic engagement in higher education.

BGeXperience students arrive on campus shortly before the start of fall semester for an intensive, two-day introduction to critical thinking about values. Working in small groups with faculty members from various disciplines and a peer facilitator, they explore and begin to identify their own values, look at how values are implicit or explicit in everyday life and learn the University’s expectations of them.
The students then take a general education course, taught by the same faculty member who led their group, in which they examine how values are expressed in that discipline.

October 3, 2005