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Internal Auditing

Case in Point:
Lessons for the pro-active manager

August 2011
Vol. 3 No. 8
Quotable...
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.  

-- Ecclesiastes 1:9

At colleges and universities across the country, fall terms are now beginning with excitement, expectation, and the revived energy that a new academic year brings.   For almost three years we’ve provided this monthly communication in an attempt to shed light on current and emerging risks across the higher education landscape.  Our goal is that through this education, we help those who manage the operations of higher education be better equipped to proactively mitigate risks and prevent crises.   Crisis comes in numerous forms for our industry and can range from violence on campus to loss of material items.   For the most part, the types of risk management failures we see each month occur again and again at different institutions.  A less costly approach, in our view, is to consider what can go wrong before problems happen and seek to proactively prevent crises.

This month we focus on some common risks involving students that we’ve noted over the past year.   Some of these risks are admittedly harder to influence than others, but awareness is still important for those involved in the higher education industry. 

  • Social Media Risks - this is a growing issue for everyone,  especially students as they tend to be on the leading edge of adopting many new social media technologies.   When possible we need to take advantage of the opportunity to educate our students on the risks that come with the use of this media.  Privacy issues and past tweets, posts, and comments can follow students through their careers and beyond.  In one case earlier this month, a student lost a scholarship due to the content of a post on a social media site.
  • Campus Safety – often students will fail to realize the importance of keeping themselves and their property safe.  A good mitigation strategy for property  can be as simple as keeping doors locked and valuables out of view.  For personal safety, avoiding being alone after hours and using shuttle or security services when traveling on campus is recommended.   In the post-Virginia Tech incident era, campus faculty and staff need to be aware of the resources available and whom to contact when things don’t seem safe or if help is needed.  Most institutions now have “Threat Assessment Teams” and it is always better to report suspected problems than to wish you had after the fact.   (For more information on the AU Threat Assessment Team see http://www.auburn.edu/autat.)
  • Computer Use – these risks affect us all, but protecting computing resources and information is certainly a concern  for students.  Ensuring that copyright protection laws are followed is very important as students have encountered issues regarding illegal downloading of music and movies.   Also concerning is a study we cited (September 2010) which reported more than 20% of students admitted hacking into protected IT systems or accounts.  While that number could be exaggerated, it is important to remember that hacking into protected systems can cause legal issues that would follow a student into their career.   Educating students on how to protect their on-line accounts, data, and identities is another way we can serve our students and be proactive.
  • Hazing – we continue to see reports of hazing throughout our industry.  Having educational programs in place and mechanisms to report issues is important in managing this risk.  Alcohol abuse is another area that continues to plague many universities.  Knowing what resources are available to assist students who may seek your guidance is important for anyone interacting with students. 

This is only a sampling of the issues we face in dealing with student related risks.  For your unit, think about these and other risks you can help proactively manage.    A crisis averted can sometimes prevent harm to students and I believe we can all agree this is worth our time and effort. 

M. Kevin Robinson, CIA, CFE, CCEP
Executive Director, Internal Auditing


Information Security Related Events

Aug. 17, 2011: Names and Social Security numbers of 43,000 Yale University students, faculty, staff, and alumni were accessible via the Google search engine for about 10 months, according to the school newspaper. (link)

Aug. 16, 2011: If you've taken a math class at Purdue, your security could be at risk. Purdue University said 7,093 former students and faculty who took part in a math course could be at risk. (link)

Aug. 12, 2011: University of Hawaii officials are warning that confidential financial information of close to 2,000 people is unaccounted for. The documents were in three file boxes kept in a secured area on the Diamond Head campus. (link)

Aug. 10, 2011: A computer security breach at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee may have exposed the names and Social Security numbers of about 75,000 people associated with the school. (link)

Aug. 9, 2011: Data housed on a North Carolina State University computer server that contained private information for about 1,800 school children from Wilson and Richmond counties was mistakenly put online, officials said Tuesday. (link)

Aug. 9, 2011: Cal Poly Pomona has mailed letters to 38 past and present faculty members notifying them that their personal data was accessible by people within the College of Business Administration. (link)

Aug. 1, 2011:
UNC-Chapel Hill campus police are investigating a breaking and entering case where 30 confidential student records were stolen from the student judicial system office. (link)


Misappropriation/Fraud/Ethics Events

Aug. 25, 2011: The University of Louisville is accusing a former employee of taking more than $463,000 from the university’s Equine Industry Program and using it for improvements to her house and dozens of personal purchases ranging from a motorcycle to lingerie, according to a university audit released Wednesday. (link)

Aug. 17, 2011: A faculty panel has substantiated a "pattern of plagiarism" on the part of a tenured University of Utah political scientist, but in a split decision declined to recommend firing him or revoking his tenure. (link)

Aug. 16, 2011: Dr. James Hupp, dean of the new dental school at East Carolina University, has resigned following a state audit about improper travel expenses and an internal investigation that uncovered outside compensation that he had not reported to ECU. (link)

Aug. 14, 2011: Angela Renea Dennis, 35, of 404 S. Clay St., took books from one Rowan-Cabarrus Community College bookstores and sold them to another, authorities say. (link)

Aug. 12, 2011: Dixie State athletic di­rector Jason Boothe told The Spectrum & Daily News on Thursday that a lack of proper procedures and policies for funds in the athletic department’s budget were to blame for money being misappropri­ated, as noted in an audit performed by the Utah state auditor. (link)

Aug. 10, 2011: Hundreds of Chicago State University students received state financial aid even though their grades were so low that they shouldn’t have been allowed to enroll at the university, according to testimony Wednesday at a state hearing. (link)

Aug 9 , 2011: Christine Bitterman has yet to repay any of the $300,000 she stole from her job at the University of Montana Residence Life Office. But Missoula County District Judge Dusty Deschamps had an idea of how she could save some money toward restitution. (link)

Aug. 8, 2011: Dickinson State University President Richard McCallum has been fired over falsified enrollment numbers at the school. (link)

Aug. 8, 2011: Morehouse College has agreed to pay $1.2 million to end a federal investigation into the misuse of funds. (link)

Aug. 5, 2011: McGill University has formally reprimanded senior professor and researcher Barbara Sherwin for failing to acknowledge a ghostwriter hired by drug company Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in a paper Sherwin wrote in 2000. (link)

Aug. 3, 2011: A man arrested in connection with the theft of $5.7 million from Columbia University pleaded not guilty and was ordered held without bail. (link)

Aug. 1, 2011: A breach in an Idaho State University server's firewall has exposed private medical information from patients of Pocatello Family Medicine to anyone on the Internet. (link)


Compliance/Regulatory Events

Aug. 23, 2011: The Obama administration announced on Tuesday the final form of new rules governing financial conflicts of interest in federally sponsored medical research, saying it hoped to boost public confidence after years of scandals tied to corporate influence. (link)

Aug. 22, 2011: A student drank so much he became “unresponsive” at a fraternity recruitment party and was taken to a hospital by ambulance, one of six drinking-related violations that occurred this week as students returned to the University of South Carolina. (link)

Aug. 19, 2011: Federal education officials have fined Washington State University $82,500 for violations in 2007 of a campus crime reporting law, including not properly reporting two sexual assaults, the university said Friday. (link)

Aug. 17, 2011: New York University will pay $210,000 to settle a harassment lawsuit after an employee was subjected to racial slurs and insults, according to a statement from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). (link)

Aug. 12, 2011: Douglas County prosecutors have filed five misdemeanor eavesdropping charges against a 23-year-old Shawnee man who is accused of peeking in the shower of women in Kansas University residence halls last spring. (link)

Aug. 13, 2011: Four graduates of Thomas M. Cooley Law School have brought a federal lawsuit against their alma mater, claiming the school misrepresented its post-graduation employment statistics to attract students. (link)

Aug. 11, 2011: A former Wayne State University veterinarian is suing the school's board of governors and three officials in federal court, saying she was fired for demanding better conditions for research animals. (link)

Aug. 9, 2011: An estimated average of 3,800 university housing fires occur each year. Annually, these fires are responsible for 25 injuries and $9 million in property loss. Ninety-five percent of university housing fires occur in dormitories or dormitory-type residences (link)


Other News & Events

Aug. 30, 2011: Administrators at Des Moines Area Community College took immediate action last week when a startling message from a social networking site was discovered. It said: “Who wants to shoot up the DMACC Ankeny campus the same time I shoot up the Urban campus?” (link)

Aug. 26, 2011: For an athlete these days, that Twitter thing can be as dangerous as an ACL tear. On Friday morning, Mississippi State dismissed freshman forward D.J. Gardner from the basketball program, a day after coach Rick Stansbury announced Gardner would redshirt during the 2011-12 season. (link)

Aug. 24, 2011: As we move faster and faster towards being a paperless society, electronic communication, like email, is becoming increasingly important. One would-be San Jose State University freshman found that out the hard way. (link)

Aug. 24, 2011: A racy photo has the Bethany College men's golf team in hot water. All 15 members of the team at the small, Lutheran school in Lindsborg posed naked for an unofficial team picture, with strategically placed golf clubs to cover their genitals. (link)

Aug. 23, 2011: In the survey, released on Tuesday by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a nonprofit consumer-advocacy organization, seven in 10 college students said they had not purchased a textbook at least once because they had found the price too high. Many more respondents said they had purchased a book whose price was driven up by common textbook-publishing practices, such as frequent new editions or bundling with other products. (link)

Aug. 22, 2011: The U.C.L.A. School of Law announced a $10 million gift from Lowell Milken to establish a business law institute in his name earlier this month. Mr. Milken’s big donation has set off an internal debate at the school. (link)

Aug. 15, 2011: The death of an 18-year-old high school graduate after University of Cincinnati police used a Taser on him is likely to reopen an intense debate on whether or how the weapons should be allowed on college campuses. (link)

Aug. 14, 2011: The University of Michigan's Global Intercultural Experience for Undergraduates program canceled an internship program based in El Salvador and required students to return to the United States after three students were robbed at gunpoint on July 29 in the city of San Salvador. (link)

Aug. 13, 2011: Dharun Ravi, the former roommate of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, is requesting that charges of intimidation, invasion of privacy, and evidence tampering among others be dismissed based on new evidence submitted by his defense team that paints a more complicated picture of their relationship leading up to Clementi's September 22 suicide. (link)

Aug. 12, 2011: Tyler Webster, an incoming Western Kentucky University student and “planking” enthusiast, has received a letter from a university official stating that if Webster again sets foot on WKU property, he could face arrest. (link)

Aug. 1, 2011: David Lee, the chancellor of University of Northern Virginia has been up to some interesting extracurricular activities. According to web reports, he has a sex dungeon in his basement and has placed online ads for a 'sex slave.' (link)


If you have any suggestions, questions or feedback, please e-mail me at robinmk@auburn.edu. We hope you find this information useful and would appreciate hearing your thoughts. Feel free to forward this email to your direct reports, colleagues, employees or others who might find it of value. Back issues of this newsletter are available on our web site at http://www.auburn.edu/audit.

If you have any suggestions for items to include in future newsletters, please e-mail Robert Gottesman at gotterw@auburn.edu.

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Department of Internal Auditing
Auburn University
304 Samford Hall
M. Kevin Robinson, Exec. Director
robinmk@auburn.edu
334.844.4389

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