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Ukleja Center Presents Award to Legendary Coach John Wooden

Published: June 15, 2009

Recognized for his ability to instill confidence and transmit his values to the on-court behavior of his players, former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden was recently presented the inaugural John Wooden Ethics in Leadership Award by the Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership at CSULB.

The award was presented to Wooden at a private ceremony in Encino by Michael Solt, dean of the College of Business Administration (CBA) at CSULB, and Mick Ukleja, co-founder of the Ukleja Center.

The Wooden Award, along with a $10,000 check, will be presented annually to a person or organization whose contribution to a relevant community—whether local, national or global—is built on ethical behavior and visionary leadership and reflects a significant response to a specific challenge or opportunity.

“John Wooden and the Ukleja Center have mutual goals. Coach Wooden epitomizes the core values of our center, so it only makes sense to have teamed up with this man who has spent his life both living and teaching ethics,” said Ukleja. “Working together, we can carry out the mission of the center in an even stronger way—equipping people with the transformational power of ethical leadership.”

The Wooden award is designed to promote the practice of ethical leadership and to salute a leader who embodies the Ukleja Center’s core values of integrity, excellence, empowerment, abundance and servant leadership.

At UCLA, Wooden’s basketball teams won more national championships than any other — 10 over a 12-year period. His teams achieved the pinnacle of his “Pyramid of Success,” known as “Competitive Greatness.” The pyramid is a value-based system of leadership that transcends the basketball court and can be applied to both the personal and professional leadership realms. Wooden, known as the “Wizard of Westwood,” will forever be linked to UCLA and its unprecedented success in basketball during his era.

John Wooden
Photo by David J. Nelson
With John Wooden (c) are Michael Solt (l) and Mick Ukleja.

“While in my younger days John Wooden was synonymous with success in basketball, I now know that his impact has been much more profound on individual lives over the last three decades,” said Solt. “His values-based approach to helping each person be the best that he or she can be cuts across all parts and stages of life. I am very proud that the Ukleja Center will be home to the John Wooden Ethics in Leadership Award and that such a shining star can show the world how important ethical behavior is to us.”

Housed in the CBA and named for its major donors, Mick and Louise Ukleja, the Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership focuses on a three-pronged interdisciplinary approach to applied ethics—university research, education, and community outreach. In addition to offering programs for faculty and students, the center works with companies, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations to advance the practice of ethical leadership.