Internal Auditing

Case in Point:
Lessons for the pro-active manager

November 2009
Vol. 1 No. 11

''Complacency is not something we have the luxury of.''

-- Jacob Nolan, Texas A&M student

In discussing risk management at colleges and universities, I often mention the 1999 bonfire tragedy at Texas A&M University. The bonfire was an annual tradition at Texas A&M before their football game with the University of Texas. In 1999, during the bonfire's construction, the structure collapsed killing 12 and injuring 27. As you would expect, this incident had a major impact on this institution and its culture. One positive impact that came from this tragedy was the increased emphasis on pro-active risk management. In fact, this institution is now considered to be among the best in managing student related risks. This month's newsletter contains a link to a very interesting article on this event in our ''Other Events'' section. I would encourage you to read this article.

I would also encourage you to consider what risks you have within your unit from a holistic perspective. Some have said our industry faces more diverse risks than any other. While I don't know if that is true or if it can be proven, I do know that our risks are very diverse and run the gamut from life/safety to regulatory compliance to ethics and so much more. In my view, that places us in a challenging situation where we must be pro-active in managing our risks. As you review the events across our industry this month again consider how you can prevent similar problems here at Auburn University.

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

Information Security Related Events

Nov. 15, 2009: The Social Security numbers, home addresses and phone contacts for at least 300 students who applied for admission to Cal Poly Pomona six years ago were unintentionally disclosed online, according to the university. The personal information remained on the university server and accessible to the public for about five years, school officials said. (link)

Nov. 6, 2009: Chaminade University inadvertently posted confidential information, including Social Security numbers, of thousands of students, on its Web site for months, school officials said today. (link)

Nov. 1, 2009: Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania is notifying current and former students who were enrolled in psychology professor Julie Kontos' classes from spring 2004 through the summer of 2006 about the possible loss of their social security numbers when a laptop was stolen from a campus office. (link)

Oct. 28, 2009: Hackers compromised 40 computers in the University of Wisconsin chemistry department, and that's not the worst part. The computers had personal information—like Social Security numbers—of 2,920 people affiliated with the school, the Badger Herald reports. (link)

Misappropriation/Fraud/Ethics Events

Nov. 3, 2009: Marshall University’s faculty senate is in the early stages of investigating grade changes involving state Treasurer John Purdue’s daughter Emily, but they’re not exactly sure what happens next. (link)

Oct. 30, 2009: Central Michigan University will return more than $619,000 of grant funds to the National Science Foundation after allegations of "violations of the research integrity policy" was substantiated. (link)

Oct. 20, 2009: A former UC Davis employee has turned herself in after authorities issued an arrest warrant charging her with stealing or embezzling more than $38,000 from the university. (link)

Oct. 20, 2009: University of Illinois Chancellor Richard Herman resigned Tuesday following months of pressure over special attention the school paid to politically connected applicants at its Urbana-Champaign campus and news that some were admitted over more qualified students. (link)

Compliance/Regulatory Failure Events

Nov. 5, 2009: Texas A&M University's tentlike athletic complex wasn't built to withstand the maximum winds prescribed by the building code, according to an engineering firm hired by the university to evaluate the $35.6 million structure. (link)

Oct. 24, 2009: The University of Texas at Dallas mistakenly gave too much financial aid to some students this fall, and they'll have to give the money back, officials said Friday. (link)

Other Events

Nov. 14, 2009: Around Texas A&M University, it is known simply as Bonfire. No explanation needed. But little else about the century-old tradition of igniting a pile of lumber before the year’s biggest football game is so clear. Ten years after a collapse that killed 12 people and injured 27 others, the school and its supporters remain divided over whether the tradition should return to campus and what the ultimate lesson of the tragedy should be. (link)

Nov. 5, 2009: The parents of a dead Spelman College sophomore want Clark Atlanta University to pay them for pain and suffering they and their daughter suffered after the 19-year-old woman was hit by a stray bullet while walking on the CAU campus. (link)

Nov. 4, 2009: Administrators at Montclair State University on Tuesday tried to assure parents that they were doing everything possible to protect their children after the latest in a trio of small fires that forced the evacuation of a large residence hall. (link)

Nov. 2, 2009: University of Mississippi football fans who refuse to stop chanting "the South will rise again" are on the verge of losing one of their favorite fight songs, the school's chancellor said Monday. (link)

Oct. 29, 2009: Gov. Jennifer Granholm might begin issuing her final line-item budget vetoes as soon as today, possibly eliminating state funding for the agricultural extension service run through Michigan State University. (link)

Oct. 26, 2009: Harvard Medical School is increasing security in its laboratory buildings after a toxicology report revealed that six researchers who fell ill Aug. 26 had drunk coffee tainted with the chemical sodium azide. (link)

Oct. 25, 2009: The recent arrest of a UCLA student in the brutal stabbing of a classmate in a campus chemistry lab has again focused attention on an issue that gripped the nation after the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech: the mental health of troubled college students. (link)

If you have any suggestions, questions or feedback, please e-mail me at 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

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

Department of Internal Auditing
Auburn University
304 Samford Hall
M. Kevin Robinson, Exec. Director
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