This Is Auburn Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy
Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy

Our Mission

The mission of the Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy is to assist Auburn University, Auburn University at Montgomery, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, and the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station (the "University") in fulfilling its vision of being a preeminent comprehensive land-grant university. Our office provides services in three distinct yet related disciplines - audit, compliance, and privacy - in support of Auburn University's three-pronged mission of teaching, research, and service.

The Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy functions in partnership with University leadership to:

  • improve the internal control system and culture;
  • improve and enhance the management of operational, financial, compliance, strategic and reputational risks;
  • enhance governance processes;
  • ensure strong stewardship and management accountability at all levels of the University.

Case In Point: Lessons for the proactive manager

Each month much of our newsletter focuses on things that have gone wrong in higher education; however, this month I wanted to point out some things that went right, despite the obstacles this year has brought. Here at AU, we transitioned quickly and relatively smoothly compared to what I heard from many of my colleagues in higher education. One reason for our smooth transition was the excellent work by Auburn University's Biggio Center. Educause highlighted this work in a recent article. Educause is a nonprofit association and the largest community of technology, academic, industry, and campus leaders advancing higher education through the use of IT.

I highlight this because the actions they took allowed us to continue carrying out our primary mission and I would argue is an example of effective risk management. The pandemic brought us unique strategic risks, and one important component of successful risk management is the ability to adjust to new and emerging risks quickly to ensure the mission continues.

We hope this publication assists you in being able to mitigate emerging risks quickly in your role. We again invite you to review the unique and emerging issues occurring across our industry. As always, we welcome your input and suggestions.

Each month we bring you this publication with one purpose: to encourage the proactive management of risk at colleges and universities. We began this as an Auburn University effort but it has grown to reach a worldwide audience in the higher education industry. We hope that we help you and your institution become a little better at proactively managing risk each month.

One other thing we do here at AU is educate all new full-time employees on this principle during employee orientation (regardless of their role). One slide I use in this presentation has the title, ''The World Has Changed.'' On this slide are headlines from issues, scandals, and crises from our industry. The point I make on this slide is that we need everyone's help to avoid becoming a headline and enduring some negative event that would not only impact our institutional reputation, but most likely cost us scarce resources.

Simply speaking up when you see an issue is one of the most important things our employees can do to assist in proactively managing risk. Managing risk is not a job title or duty, it's a responsibility inherent to all employees of a college or university. Developing this culture is critical for all institutions.

One headline that has been on my orientation slide for a couple of years reads ''Lauren McCluskey's parents file $56 million lawsuit against the University of Utah.'' I added this headline when the case first became public. This month the Salt Lake Tribune reported that the case had settled as you read below:

''Acknowledging for the first time that the on-campus murder of track star Lauren McCluskey was ''preventable,'' the University of Utah agreed Thursday that it could have better protected her and failed — and it will pay out $13.5 million to her parents as part of a legal settlement.''

A tragic story for sure. I won't go into details of the apparent failure here, but I want to point out that we've passed the time in higher education where doing nothing is an option. So while this story is awful, it provides a lesson that all of us in higher education can learn from, and in doing so, help prevent the next Lauren McCluskey case from occurring. As the father of a daughter in college, I think we owe that to our students, to my daughter, and to all the people who come to our campus. The question is will we? Will you?

We again invite you to review the various events that have occurred in our industry with a view toward proactive risk management. As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions.

Read this month's issue of Case In Point

Case In Point Archives

Anonymous Reporting Hotline

The University uses the EthicsPoint anonymous Reporting System to enhance communication and empower individuals to promote safety, security, and ethical behavior. Use this anonymous, confidential system to report situations, events or actions by individuals or groups that you believe unethical or otherwise inappropriate. Frivolous or unfounded reports do not help foster a positive workplace. This hotline service does not replace our existing reporting methods for reporting fraud, waste, abuse or other potentially illegal activities. The University continues to encourage stakeholders to report concerns or suspected violations to their supervisor or other campus entities as appropriate.

If you are uncertain if a situation violates University policy, is illegal or constitutes harassment or discrimination, you may use EthicsPoint to obtain clarification. We would much rather have you ask questions than let potential problems go unchecked. However, EthicsPoint should not be used for immediate threats to life or property. If the situation presents an immediate threat to life or property call emergency -- 911

Last Updated: January 24, 2020