“Our research has shown that strong relationships, careers, organizations, and communities all draw from the same source of power --- the ability to talk openly about high-stakes, emotional, controversial topics.”
-- Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler
In 2002 McGraw-Hill published a book by authors Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler titled, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High. A second edition of this book was published in 2012 and it went on to become one of the most popular business books of 2013.
The authors of this book set out to research what skills led some people to be judged as more effective by their coworkers than others. During the course of their work, they discovered one of the key skills for effectiveness was being able to engage in what they termed ''crucial conversations.'' They define crucial conversations as those conversations where (1) stakes are high, (2) opinions vary, and (3) emotions run strong.
In short, the premise of the book is that effective people and organizations are able to discuss highly important and even emotionally charged issues in a respectful manner and consequently develop greater influence and effectiveness. Often, the seemingly easy thing to do is ignore crucial issues or topics of concern. Yet this failure to have open and frank discussion leads to less effective organizations and sometimes major problems. Conversely, when crucial conversations do occur in an organization, the pool of information is greater and individuals and organizations ultimately make better decisions since more information is available for consideration.
Certainly within higher education we have our crucial issues that should be discussed rather than ignored. It is important that we cultivate an environment where open discussion can take place and crucial issues can be raised and addressed before they become real life problems. Just this month you can see the gamut of potential problems on college campuses such as fraud, government fines, violence, and a wide range of safety related issues.
I'd suggest crucial conversations are important in pro-actively managing risks. It's very important that we work to create an environment where stakeholders are willing to raise important issues. In fact, it's my opinion that this type culture has never been more important than in today's current environment--something we suggest you consider as you review this month's issues across higher education.
M. Kevin Robinson, CIA, CFE
Associate Vice President
Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy
Information Security & Technology Events
Nov 19, 2015: An academic institution has been providing information to the FBI that led to the identification of criminal suspects on the dark web, according to court documents reviewed by Motherboard. Those suspects include a staff member of the now-defunct Silk Road 2.0 drug marketplace, and a man charged with possession of child pornography.
It raises questions about the role that academics are playing in the continued crackdown on dark web crime, as well as the fairness of the trials of each suspect, as crucial discovery evidence has allegedly been withheld from both defendants. (link)
Nov 14, 2015: More than 1,000 patients of UC Health may have had their private information exposed, all because of an email address mixup. The mistake -- two letters switched in an email domain name (the part after the @ sign) -- happened nine times starting in August 2014, spokeswoman Diana Lara said late Friday night. The emails were supposed to stay within UC Health, Lara said. (link)
Nov 13, 2015: The University of Illinois will spend over $2 million because of its handling of a social media situation that might have been avoidable. (link)
Nov 06, 2015: A University of Iowa military and veterans education specialist has been fired for using ''inappropriate language'' in an email sent from his UI address in an official capacity. ''A member of the Student Veterans Association at the University of Minnesota sent an email that the employee found insulting,'' according to the appeal. The employee responded to that member with an email -- and copied several others, including the Minnesota association's president -- in which he called the person vulgar names and used expletives. (link)
Fraud & Ethics Related Events
Nov 20, 2015: The University of Florida has agreed to pay nearly $20 million to resolve allegations that it improperly charged the Department of Health and Human Services for salary and administrative costs on hundreds of federal grants, the Department of Justice said Friday. (link)
Nov 20, 2015: A federal jury has found a former Florida State University professor guilty of embezzlement. Federal prosecutors say James Doran embezzled a total of $650,000 from the College of Business "Student Investment Fund" between 2010 and 2011. The fund allows students to invest real money to essentially learn the ropes of investing. Doran was the faculty advisor. (link)
Nov 19, 2015: Only days after Lil Wayne was announced to perform at Alabama State University, the college has issued a release stating that the rapper will not be appearing tonight. In a press release on Tuesday evening, Alabama State University said it was the victim of fraud after falsely booking Lil Wayne through a third party promoter. The rapper was intended to be the headliner for the school's annual Homecoming concert tonight. (link)
Nov 18, 2015: The University of Louisville has placed its $185,000-a-year director of alumni relations on administrative leave while it investigates allegations that she used the same position at the University of Georgia to take taxpayer-funded trips to run marathons. An internal audit at UGA found that after Deborah Dietzler signed up to run races in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Monterey, Calif., she would ask her staff to set up meetings or events in the area so she could get the university to reimburse her airfare and in some cases other expenses. (link)
Nov 16, 2015: Federal and state prosecutors are poised to announce a settlement with Education Management Corporation, one of the nation's largest for-profit college chains, that would resolve allegations it defrauded taxpayers out of $11 billion, according to people familiar with the case. (link)
Nov 13, 2015: Misuse of a Radford University credit card brought a Dublin woman two years of probation Friday. Tammy Saunders, 41, was a university employee when she used an institutional credit card to pay for car and utility expenses, and apparently for snacks on the night of the Super Bowl, Radford Commonwealth's Attorney Chris Rehak said during Friday's hearing in Radford Circuit Court. (link)
Nov 11, 2015: The dean of business at Texas Tech University announced his resignation this week after an internal investigation exposed his role in a grade-changing scandal. (link)
Nov 06, 2015: The University of Colorado School of Medicine announced Friday that it was returning a $1 million gift from Coca-Cola after it was revealed that the money had been used to establish an advocacy group that played down the link between soft drinks and obesity. (link)
Nov 06, 2015: A former office coordinator at Grand Valley State University is charged with a felony for allegedly embezzling more than $50,000 from the university, court records show. (link)
Nov 05, 2015: A University of Iowa military and veterans education specialist has been fired for using "inappropriate language" in an email sent from his UI address in an official capacity.The university cited its ethics policy that requires employees be respectful in their communications. (link)
Compliance/Regulatory & Legal Events
Nov 24, 2015: A university professor and his wife were convicted Friday of defrauding NASA by letting graduate students and researchers do all the work on a $700,000 project. Lehigh University engineering professor Yujie Ding and his wife, Yuliya Zotova, told NASA that their startup company would develop a cutting-edge sensor used to track climate change, The Morning Call of Allentown reported. (link)
Nov 24, 2015: A Towson University diving coach was indicted on criminal charges Monday in connection with a cellphone that was recording in the team's locker room last month. Maureen Mead of Lutherville, 43, is charged in Baltimore County Circuit Court with interception of communication, peeping Tom and altering evidence, according to the university and online court records. (link)
Nov 23, 2015: An instructor in the University of Memphis' department of finance has been arrested and charged with indecent exposure. The victim told police the instructor, Frank SanPietro, exposed himself to her and touched himself while the two were having lunch in his office, according to the affidavit. (link)
Nov 21, 2015: A University of Delaware professor allegedly stalked a fellow school employee, police announced Friday. According to authorities, 66-year-old economics professor William Harris has been charged after a two-month investigation. Police say Harris, a Marlyland native, tried puncturing the tires of the employee's car inside a university parking garage. (link)
Nov 19, 2015: Police said they have made an arrest in connection with an online threat at Missouri Valley College in Marshall. Police said an 18-year-old from Arizona, has been arrested on suspicion of making terroristic threats. He is in custody in Marshall. (link)
Nov 19, 2015: The Atchinson County, Kansas Prosecutor's Office confirmed Colleen Carey has been charged with one count of aggravated criminal threat. Benedictine College went on lockdown late Tuesday evening following a threat posted on Yik Yak, the same messaging app that led to an arrest concerning threats at the University of Missouri. (link)
Nov 18, 2015: A woman is suing Pacific University for $3 million because she was allegedly raped by another student after an underage drinking party at a coach's house. The suit claims Pacific University hasn't done enough to discourage alcohol-related sexual assaults. (link)
Nov 13, 2015: Former Wesleyan University student Zachary Kramer, 22, of Bethesda, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute, and to distribute, MDMA, otherwise known as "Molly." The charge stems from an investigation into the distribution of controlled substances that caused multiple students at the Connecticut college to overdose in February of this year, according to Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut. (link)
Nov 13, 2015: Tyler Bradenberg, 19, of St. Louis County, a former student at Missouri University of Science & Technology, was charged Thursday for allegedly threatening violence on campus via social media, Fox 2 reports. Campus police in Rolla had investigated after they received a report of a posting on the anonymous social media platform Yik Yak saying, "I'm going to shoot up this school." (link)
Nov 10, 2015: University of Cincinnati Medical Center can't be sued after an employee leaked private medical records about a patient who had syphilis, a judge ruled Monday. The patient, a woman in her early 20s, filed the lawsuit last year. A screen shot of the woman's private medical records from the hospital was posted on the Facebook group, (link)
Nov 06, 2015: A Bend college student who says his possibly psychotic dorm mate plunged a knife into his back at least 12 times filed a $3 million lawsuit Wednesday against Central Oregon Community College. James Briles claims that the college brushed off his pleas to assign him to a different dorm room even though he told the college he feared for his safety. (link)
Nov 04, 2015: A woman accused of running a red light and purposely driving around a barricade and over a police motorcycle before crashing into spectators at Oklahoma State University's homecoming parade was formally charged Tuesday with four counts of second-degree murder and 46 counts of felony assault. (link)
Nov 04, 2015: Philosophy professor Peter Ludlow has resigned from Northwestern University, the Evanston, Illinois-based school confirmed Tuesday. Ludlow resigned his tenured professorship on Monday as the university prepared to fire him after determining he sexually harassed two students. Ludlow's behavior was "an affront to the standards" of Northwestern, the university said, and the private school "regrets the pain that was caused by his actions." (link)
Nov 03, 2015: Authorities have arrested a freshman football player at a California university after he allegedly used social media to threaten gunfire on campus, the latest incident involving a student making violent threats on the smartphone "app" Yik Yak. (link)
Nov 03, 2015: A St. Louis Circuit Court jury has awarded a former Harris-Stowe State University instructor $4.85 million after finding that the historically black university discriminated against the instructor because she is white. (link)
Nov 02, 2015: A Rutgers University student accused of stabbing two people in the lobby of a school dorm has been charged with attempted murder. (link)
Nov 02, 2015: A former Skidmore College security guard has pleaded guilty to charges of unlawful surveillance stemming from the 2014 accusation that he molested and took digital photos of a highly intoxicated woman. (link)
Campus Life & Safety Events
Nov. 30, 2015: The University of Chicago has shut down its campus after learning of an anonymous online threat of gun violence said to be planned for Monday. The school said Sunday that FBI counterterrorism officials informed the school of a threat specifically of a shooting on "the campus quad" at 10 a.m. Monday. (link)
Nov 30, 2015: For years, Ohio State University officials have warned that the traditional Michigan-week jump into Mirror Lake is a bad idea, but have allowed students to do it. Now, a long-feared tragedy has brought that to an end. (link)
Nov 20, 2015: A Kansas University professor who used the n-word during a class discussion about race is on leave while the university investigates a discrimination complaint against her. Andrea Quenette, assistant professor of communication studies, said she was notified Friday morning that five individuals, whose names she does not know, filed a discrimination complaint against her with KU's Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access. (link)
Nov 19, 2015: After several days of protesting Occidental College's handling of diversity issues, students occupied an administrative building Monday, demanding that the school president step down if officials don't take such steps as creating a black studies major and hiring more minority faculty. (link)
Nov 18, 2015: Washington College closed its Maryland campus Tuesday morning until further notice as police and the FBI intensified the search for a "despondent" sophomore who is believed to be armed. It was the second day the Eastern Shore campus has been on high alert, going from a shelter-in-place order Monday to a full evacuation on Tuesday. Authorities are trying to find Jacob Marberger, whose parents called college officials early Monday to report that he had left their home in Pennsylvania with a gun and that they were not able to reach him. (link)
Nov 17, 2015: Georgetown University will rename two buildings on campus -- Mulledy Hall and McSherry Hall -- that are currently named after slaveowners, following protests and sit-ins from students demanding increased awareness about the institution's racial legacy. (link)
Nov 13, 2015: Police arrested someone suspected of posting a threat to black students through social media at Michigan Technological University, the school announced this morning via Twitter. (link)
Nov 16, 2015: After spending years in the headlines as a party-school mecca and just as many years addressing that with new initiatives and policies, the University of Iowa for the first time has recorded a full academic year in which sorority and fraternity members were arrested or cited less often than their non-Greek peers. (link)
Nov 09, 2015: University of Missouri system president Timothy Wolfe resigned his office in a news conference Monday after weeks of protests stemming from a string of racially charged incidents.
"The frustration and anger that I see is clear, real, and I don't doubt it for a second," Wolfe said. "Please, please, use this resignation to heal, not to hate, and let's move on together for a brighter tomorrow." (link)
Nov 09, 2015: The Concerned Faculty group at the University of Missouri is to begin a two-day walkout today in support of student activists who say the school has done too little to address their concerns about racism and racial intolerance on campus. The news comes as football players at the university said they won't participate in team activities until university President Tim Wolfe is removed from office, as the team's head coach, Gary Pinkel, tweeted in support of his players, "The Mizzou Family stands as one." (link)
Nov 09, 2015: Weeks of simmering racial tension at Yale University boiled over in recent days into a heated debate over whether the administration was sensitive enough to concerns about Halloween costumes seen as culturally offensive, students and administrators said. (link)
Nov 06, 2015: Morgantown police responded Wednesday to reports that witnesses saw a group of men beating someone and then stuffing him into the trunk of a car. Officers determined that a 21-year-old Arlington, Virginia, man had been bound with duct tape and put in the trunk in what they determined to be a prank. (link)
Nov 05, 2015: In the most violent day in the young history of UC Merced, a male student armed with a large hunting knife attacked four people on campus Wednesday before he was shot down by police, a spree of bloodshed that shocked the tight-knit campus and left investigators searching for a motive. (link)
Nov 02, 2015: One person was killed and another was injured in a shooting at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, the school said early Sunday. The university said the campus was placed on full lockdown after a shooting was reported at around 1:20 a.m. The lockdown was lifted and an all-clear was given just over three hours later. (link)
Nov 02, 2015: The University of Louisville issued an apology on Thursday, after a community outcry over a photograph showing school staff, including school President James Ramsey, donning sombreros and other items associated with Hispanic culture during a party. (link)
Nov 02, 2015: Trevor Duffy picked his poison. Members of Zeta Beta Tau, an unsanctioned fraternity at University at Albany, "required, ordered and encouraged" a 19-year-old pledge from the Bronx to guzzle nearly two bottles of vodka, according to NBC News. (link)
Other News & Events
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