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Internal Auditing

Case in Point:
Lessons for the pro-active manager

February 2012
Vol. 4 No. 2
''Better be wise by the misfortunes of others than by your own''

-- Aesop

Myth - an invented story, idea, or concept.
(Source: www.dictionary.com)

We've discussed the concept of myths before in our monthly publication. Because of the difficulty of changing a believed myth once it has taken root it is probably a good idea to examine the concept periodically. Myths often develop over time and are developed to either explain some phenomenon or perhaps even justify some behavior. Sometimes myths can even make their way into institutional culture.

Two of the more common myths that sometimes develop in higher education are the following:

  • Myth 1: It's my money and I can spend it however I want.

This is a particularly dangerous myth when believed by those conducting federal research. The myth can lead to justifications such as, ''we will just pay out of this project since we have money there,'' or the related ''we have money left so let's buy some items we can use later on with other projects.'' Both those myths are dangerous since the federal requirements on research are legal mandates not mere suggestions. Occasionally we see stories like the former Penn State professor who has been charged with fraud for not doing what he told the National Institute of Health that he would do when awarded a grant. He faces up to thirty five years in prison and while this is an extreme example of the myth, it is a worthy reminder that we have an obligation to comply with federal regulations and the things we have promised on any research or sponsored project.

  • Myth 2: I will just send this in and if it is approved then it must be okay.

While we certainly hope to have institution-wide controls to prevent unallowable transactions, ultimately the buck stops with whoever is submitting a transaction along with those who put their signatures on as approvers. Fiduciary responsibility is really at the departmental level. This responsibility means we will use the funds according to the requirements they are subject to and in the institution's best interest.

As you see from this month's links, there are many different ways we can run into compliance or risk failure within our industry. We again invite you to evaluate what areas may require your attention and pro-active management.

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

Information Security & Technology Events

Feb. 22, 2012: A security breach at Central Connecticut State University exposed a large number of CCSU faculty, staff, and students to potential identity theft and other misuse of personally identifying information. (link)

Feb. 22, 2012: University of Florida officials are notifying 719 individuals who were owed a check or refund by the university that their Social Security numbers were exposed on Florida's Unclaimed Property website. (link)

Feb. 17, 2012: Borrowing from the field of machine vision, Stanford University researchers have discovered how to solve over 90 percent of NuCaptcha's are-you-a-human video challenges. (link)

Feb 7, 2012: Valencia College is apologizing after a mistake allowed the personal information of 9,000 current and prospective students to be posted online. The school said an Excel spreadsheet with the students' names, address, date of birth, and student IDs was listed online on a password-protected website. Eventually, it lost its password protection, which means anyone could see the information. (link)

Fraud & Ethics Related Events

Feb 25, 2012: The first broad analysis of who benefited from the University of Illinois now-abandoned secret admissions track shows that a number of lawmakers championed applicants whose relatives donated to their campaigns or represented groups that regularly made political contributions. (link)

Feb 21, 2012: The former president of Baltimore International College allegedly misused more than $200,000 for personal meals, antiques and unapproved salary, according to a legal filing submitted Tuesday by the remaining board of the defunct culinary school. (link)

Feb 16, 2012: St. John's University fired associate athletic director Brian Colleary yesterday for scalping tickets to Red Storm basketball games, the school said in a statement. (link)

Feb 16, 2012: A foundation created to help needy students at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College paid its director tens of thousands of dollars in bonuses, membership fees at exclusive private clubs and a $1,500 monthly car allowance, according to interviews and records reviewed by The Times. (link)

Feb 10, 2012: An audit made public Friday revealed, lax recordkeeping and oversight resulted in hundreds of degrees being awarded to Dickson State students who didn't finish their course work. Others enrolled who couldn't speak English or hadn't achieved the ''C'' average normally required for admission. The report depicts the institution as a diploma mill for foreign students, most of whom were Chinese. Of 410 foreign students who have received four-year degrees since 2003 -- most of them in the past four years -- 400 did not fulfill all the graduation requirements, it said. (link)

Feb. 5, 2012: Pima Community College paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to a consultant who forwarded lewd emails to the school's executives and billed the public for a personal massage. (link)

Feb 3, 2012: Dozens of prominent medical researchers and scientists from across Canada and around the world have signed a letter demanding that McGill University sever its ties with the asbestos industry. (link)

Feb 3, 2012: A 41-year-old Denham Springs man has been sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison after pleading guilty to a charge that he participated in a scheme to steal $157,366 from Southern University. (link)

Feb 2, 2012: A number of Nashville's GLBT community members were stunned when former Nashville Pride president Jason Hunt was arrested in Arkansas last month and charged with embezzlement from former employer Vanderbilt University. He and his partner Cole Wakefield are accused of stealing more than $600,000 from Vanderbilt in 2011. (link)

Feb. 1, 2012: The Department of Justice has charged a former Penn State University professor with fraud, false statements and money laundering relating to $3 million in federal research grants. (link)

Jan 28, 2012: Tih-Fen Ting, professor in environmental studies on the University of Illinois - Springfield campus, resigned as chairwoman of the University of Illinois at Springfield campus senate on Friday. Earlier this month, an investigation revealed that Ting sent dozens of emails to Lisa Troyer, UI President Michael Hogan's former chief of staff. Those emails, from an anonymous gmail account, contained various communications and forwarded emails from members of the University Senates Conference. Troyer later resigned amid the investigation into anonymous emails sent from a Yahoo account from her computer to the senates conference. (link)


Compliance/Regulatory & Legal Events

Feb 28, 2012: A massage therapist for the University of New Hampshire's Health Services has been arrested following allegations that he groped a female student Saturday during a massage, the school reported Monday in a prepared statement. (link)

Feb 27, 2012: City College of San Francisco trustees regularly collect their monthly stipend whether they show up to board meetings or not - a practice legal experts say violates state law. (link)

Feb 24, 2012: The mother of a UC Berkeley student left severely brain-damaged in 2010 after a drug overdose at a campus residence sued the University of California regents and the Berkeley Student Cooperative on Thursday, saying they knew of rampant drug abuse at the house but failed to protect the students. (link)

Feb 24, 2012: Computer hard drives of top Pennsylvania State University administrators and information on payments the school's trustees made to outside groups were among the items federal prosecutors subpoenaed from the university this month. That detailed list was released a day after Penn State acknowledged that its records had drawn scrutiny from yet another agency looking into child sex abuse allegations against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. (link)

Feb 23, 2012: Pennsylvania State University has incurred nearly $3.2 million in legal, consultant, and public relations fees as a result of the case against its former assistant football coach charged with molesting boys, the university said Monday. (link)

Feb 23, 2012: A Hampshire Superior Court judge has ordered that the University of Massachusetts cease all unnecessary audio recording in its police station immediately. Not a problem, according to an attorney for UMass, who said no unwarranted recording has occurred. (link)

Feb 22, 2012: Faculty committees at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., have split on plagiarism charges leveled against climate science critic Edward Wegman, a school official announced on Wednesday. (link)

Feb 21, 2012: Otis B. Grant, a tenured professor at Indiana University South Bend, was dismissed for engaging in "serious personal and professional misconduct," according to the university. (link)

Feb 18, 2012: A federal jury returned a verdict totaling more than $1 million Friday evening against Alabama State University. The jury found that the school had allowed an administrator to create a hostile work environment by racially and sexually harassing three female employees and that the women were retaliated against after they filed complaints. (link)

Feb 16, 2012: A Oakland University student is crying foul after he was kicked off campus for writing a sexually suggestive journal entry about his teacher for a class assignment.(link)

Feb 14, 2012: A former Old Dominion University professor has settled her sex discrimination lawsuit against the school for $15,000, according to a spokesman for the state Attorney General's Office. (link)

Feb 16, 2012: The University of California paid $1.35 million to settle a lawsuit Thursday with three former UC Davis wrestling students after a federal court ruled that the school discriminated against the female athletes. (link)

Feb 14, 2012: The state Supreme Court backed the University of Connecticut Tuesday in its battle against identifying its supporters, ruling that the school may invoke a trade-secret exemption to shield information. (link)

Feb 14, 2012: The head of the Ray Charles Foundation is demanding the return of a $3 million gift given to Albany State University in south Georgia because the organization says the college has yet to use the funds to build a performing arts center in the artist's name. (link)

Feb 14, 2012: An administrative policy of blocking faculty-wide email from the Idaho State University Provisional Faculty Senate since last November has given birth to a federal complaint alleging violations of the First Amendment guarantee of free speech. (link)

Feb 10, 2012: The University of Toledo was within its rights when it fired its head human resources administrator in 2008 after she wrote a newspaper column in which she said that gay people do not need the protection of civil rights laws, a federal judge ruled this week.(link)

Feb 9, 2012: A new integrity czar at Ohio State would be given the power to make sure that the school's watchdogs are asking tough questions and rooting out problems before they erupt, officials said in a Dispatch interview Wednesday. (link)

Feb 9, 2012: A defamation lawsuit filed by a tenured professor against the dean of the Widener University School of Law has been settled. Lawrence J. Connell, an associate professor at the law school for 26 years, had accused the dean, Linda L. Ammons, of intentionally making false statements that he was a racist and sexist during proceedings to oust him from his post. (link)

Feb 8, 2012: A student's Facebook comments about her laboratory cadaver may have been funny, scary or offensive, but were they free speech? Or can a university discipline the student for disrespectful remarks about a cadaver and threats of violence with an embalming tool? (link)

Feb 8, 2012: In a victory for student rights, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a unanimous decision late yesterday in the case of Barnes v. Zaccari, holding that former Valdosta State University (VSU) President Ronald M. Zaccari may be found personally liable for violating the due process rights of former VSU student T. Hayden Barnes. Barnes first came to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help in October 2007. (link)

Feb 5, 2012: The president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York is in a billion-dollar dispute with his former workplace, a cancer institute at the University of Pennsylvania, over accusations that he walked away with groundbreaking research and used it to help start a valuable biotechnology company. (link)

Feb 3, 2012: The U.S. Education Department is probing complaints that Harvard University and Princeton University discriminate against Asian-Americans in undergraduate admissions. (link)

Feb. 1, 2012: A team of eight law firms announced on Wednesday that they had sued a dozen more law schools across the country, accusing them of luring students with inflated job-placement and salary statistics and leaving graduates "burdened with debt and with limited job prospects." (link)

Feb 1, 2012: The University of Iowa has agreed to a $130,000 settlement with a former student who was pressured to let a troubled political science professor fondle her in exchange for a higher grade, her lawyer told The Associated Press Wednesday. (link)

Feb 1, 2012: Making good on a promise to be more open about its handling of sexual misconduct, Yale University has released its first report describing the complaints that were made and how they were handled. (link)

Jan 31, 2012: After nearly two hours of heated testimony during a packed meeting, the House Higher Education Committee held off voting on a bill that would bar illegal immigrants from attending all Georgia public colleges.(link)

Campus Life & Safety Events

Feb 24, 2012: A man accused of raping one University of Montana student and assaulting another earlier this month was contacted repeatedly by UM Dean of Students Charles Couture before fleeing the country. (link)

Feb 20, 2012: SUNY Canton students are heading back to class after a fire gutted science labs in Cook Hall earlier this month. Classes were cancelled for a week as crews tried to assess the damage done to the building. (link)

Feb 16, 2012: Officials at George Washington University in Washington are alerting the campus that about 85 students have been sickened by the norovirus this week. (link)

Feb 15, 2012: George Washington University officials alerted the campus Wednesday that about 85 students were infected by norovirus this week. (link)

Feb 15, 2012: Fifteen TCU students, including four members of the football team, were among 18 people arrested early Wednesday after a six-month drug sting in which deals allegedly went down everywhere from players' homes to a Hooters restaurant. (link)

Feb 13, 2012: Colby College, a small liberal arts school in Maine, has found that the actions of 15 students violated the school's sexual misconduct policy, leading to suspensions and campuswide soul-searching. (link)

Feb 9, 2012: Authorities have widened the investigation into a former Wisconsin athletic official John Chadima after a third adult male came forward with allegations of sexual impropriety. (link)

Feb 8, 2012: The FBI determined Wednesday there was no threat to students on the Newark campus of Rutgers University after a student was arrested and his dorm was searched for potentially hazardous substances following a tip from authorities in South Dakota. (link)

Feb 8, 2012: A man is left facing up to eight years in prison after he pleaded guilty Tuesday to calling in a bomb threat to Washington State Community College last May. (link)

Feb 7, 2012: An Elk Grove Village man charged after authorities say he videotaped a woman in a restroom at Harper College last fall pleaded guilty to amended charges Monday in Rolling Meadows. Christopher Byers, 21, pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge of unauthorized videotaping. (link)

Feb 3, 2012: Following days of reported hate crimes and heightened security at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, a student has confessed to creating the list threatening black students because she wanted greater attention to the issue, according to authorities Friday night. (link)

Feb 2, 2012: Montclair State University police are investigating three incidents in the past week in which someone wrote threatening, anti-gay messages in a note and on the walls of the student center. (link)

Feb 1, 2012: A University of South Carolina senior is in jail after police charged him with throwing seven Molotov cocktails at buildings on campus and in downtown Columbia, including the Salty Nut Cafe. (link)

Feb 1, 2012: The University of Connecticut is in turmoil over a video that ran on a student-run television station portraying a young woman chased through the night by an apparent rapist. The video, which was taken down by UCTV Tuesday and was part of a "sketch comedy" series, showed the woman frantically trying to use automated emergency phones on campus that malfunction with annoying and obscene recorded voices, one of which mistakes the word "rape" for "grapes" and directs her to a local supermarket. (link)

Jan 31, 2012: Florida A&M University's president said Tuesday that he's cancelling a summer band camp and temporarily blocking students from joining clubs while the university reviews how the groups operate. President James Ammons announced the move during a campus safety forum held in response to the death of drum major Robert Champion and the arrests of several FAMU students on charges of hazing other students. (link)

Jan 31, 2012: Since students returned from Christmas break in early January, University of Nebraska-Lincoln officials have discovered bedbugs in 26 student rooms and in eight common areas of four residence halls (link)

Other News & Events

Feb 28, 2012: Some LSU faculty leaders are proposing the option of making class attendance a portion of students' final grades. (link)

Feb 22, 2012: The University of Hawaii is demanding the operator of a pornographic web site stop using the school's name or face legal action. (link)

Feb 20, 2012: Everybody misplaces something sometime. But it is not easy for the University of California, Berkeley, to explain how it lost a 22-foot-long carved panel by a celebrated African-American sculptor, or how, three years ago, it mistakenly sold this work, valued at more than a million dollars, for $150 plus tax. (link)

Feb 14, 2012: Imagine if a university without a basketball program recruited Mike Krzyzewski, the legendary coach at Duke University, and not only managed to hire him but also persuaded most of his team to switch with him. In essence, that is what Webster University in St. Louis has done by hiring Susan Polgar, the head of the Texas Tech chess program. (link)

Feb 9, 2012: Right now, college recruiters are blitzing high-school juniors with marketing e-mails and brochures—many of them much the same. Students often ignore them. ''None of us is naive enough to hope for 10 percent of the population to open an e-mail,'' says Allen Kraus, Ohio State's point person on communications to prospective students. So Ohio State decided to try a different approach to piercing the clutter. On Sunday night, the university e-mailed more than 100,000 high-school students with this pitch: Why not get to know ''the real Ohio State'' by connecting with a current student who does not work for the admissions office? (link)

Feb 8, 2012: The University of North Dakota resumed using its contentious Fighting Sioux nickname Wednesday even though it triggered NCAA sanctions, leaving some fans weary of the seven-year fight over a moniker that critics believe is demeaning. (link)

Feb 7, 2012: Soon, introductory physics texts will have a new competitor, developed at Rice University. A free online physics book, peer-reviewed and designed to compete with major publishers' offerings, will debut next month through the non-profit publisher OpenStax College. (link)

Feb 1, 2012: After 76 applicants were mistakenly told they had been accepted to Vassar College, its president has apologized for the ''considerable confusion and hurt'' caused by the ''terribly upsetting event,'' and said the college would reimburse the students' $65 application fees. (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 https://www.auburn.edu/administration/oacp.

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

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