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Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy

Case in Point:
Lessons for the proactive manager

January 2019
Vol. 11 No. 01
"The wise man looks ahead. The fool attempts to fool himself and won’t face facts."

-- a Proverb of Solomon

This month we begin our annual review of the stories we linked in Case in Point: Lessons for the Proactive Manager in 2018. This month we will look at the categories as a whole, and in future months we’ll examine trends and possible emerging issues in each specific category.

The 2018 breakdown of stories by category was relatively consistent with 2017:

  • Information Security & Technology: 10% (down 4% from 2017)
  • Fraud & Ethics: 15% (up 1% from 2017)
  • Compliance & Legal: 40% (down 3% from 2017)
  • Campus Life & Safety: 34% (up 6% from 2017)
  • Other: 1% (same as 2017)

We don’t see any major changes in the overall reporting categories, but we may note some subtle changes as we dive into each category over the coming months. A few years ago we saw major growth in the Compliance & Legal category, but now the numbers in each reporting category seem to have stabilized. In fairness, the stories included in CIP are not scientifically selected, but we do employ what we believe is a fairly methodical and consistent process of selection.

We've had a substantial number of new subscribers over the past few months, so I thought it might be helpful to give a few suggestions for you to consider to get the most out of this publication.

  1. Scan the headlines and stories from the entire newsletter, not just the area or topics for which you are responsible. If you see an interesting story, forward the newsletter to your colleague who you believe owns that specific risk and let them know you thought the story might be of interest. Developing a risk-intelligent institution takes each of us working together to help educate and inform each other. Who knows? Perhaps you will share information with a colleague that will help prevent your institution from becoming a headline.
  2. Read the articles that detail any specific risks or topical areas that apply to you. Think honestly about your own operations and whether you have proactive processes, procedures, or activities in place that reduce the risk to a level that you can live with.
  3. Talk to your employees who are responsible for managing any specific area of risk that catches your eye in the newsletter. Don’t make the assumption that they are aware of what is happening at other institutions. In conversation, send the message that proactive action is important to you and your institution. You may learn that the proactive actions you think are occurring have not made it to those doing the daily work.

We'd also like to ask you a favor. If you see articles in your local media you believe may be of interest, please send us the links. Some stories may not reach the newsfeeds we monitor, and we want to stay as informed as possible of new or emerging issues. Once again, we invite you to review the issues happening across our industry with a view toward proactive management.

PS – Follow Case in Point on twitter @AUOACP

M. Kevin Robinson, CIA, CFE
Associate Vice President
Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy

Information Security & Technology Events

Jan 26: Some colleges, in an effort to sort through a growing number of applications, are quietly tracking prospective students' online interaction with the schools and considering it in deciding whom to admit. Enrollment officers at schools including Seton Hall University, Quinnipiac University and Dickinson College know down to the second when prospective students opened an email from the school, how long they spent reading it and whether they clicked through to any links. Boston University knows if prospective students RSVP'd online to an event--and then didn't show. (link)

Jan 27: The University of New Brunswick is telling faculty and staff to be on the alert after some email addresses were detected in a massive data dump published online earlier this month. The "Collection #1" breach includes millions of email addresses and passwords. It's believed to be an aggregate of data breaches from thousands of sources, collected over the years and posted to a cloud service last week. Erik Denis, senior cybersecurity officer at UNB, said only 40 per cent of the 4,500 UNB email addresses detected in the collection are active. (link)

Jan 24: Top U.S. universities are ditching telecom equipment made by Huawei Technologies and other Chinese companies to avoid losing federal funding under a new national security law backed by the Trump administration. U.S. officials allege Chinese telecom manufacturers are producing equipment that allows their government to spy on users abroad, including Western researchers working on leading-edge technologies. Beijing and the Chinese companies have repeatedly denied such claims. (link)

Jan 08: In a congratulatory email to wellness program participants, DePaul University inadvertently exposed private information for more than 650 employees. Rather than blind copying email recipients, the Dec. 14 communication displayed the names and email addresses of employees who successfully completed the university's 2018 wellness program, DePaul spokeswoman Carol Hughes said in an email today. Through the optional wellness program, faculty and staff at the largest Catholic university in the country are eligible to earn financial incentives for taking part in healthy activities. (link)

Fraud & Ethics Related Events

Jan 30: Five students are charged with stealing wooden panels of North Carolina State University's former basketball court. News outlets report masked men entered Reynolds Coliseum on Dec. 7 and stole two of the panels from a storage area. Pieces of the original floor were being saved for historical value after the arena was remodeled in 2016. Campus police Maj. David Kelly says the panels valued at $1,300 each were recovered, but one was damaged beyond repair. (link)

Jan 20: A three-month probe into improper spending at Florida's largest university has resulted in the firing of four school administrators. University trustees authorized the probe last year after state auditors discovered the Orlando-based school had spent $38 million to construct an academic building with state funds that were supposed to be used for operations. The probe ultimately discovered $85 million of projects had been built or were planning to be built with inappropriate money. But the investigation also concluded that no university employees personally profited from the use of the improper money. (link)

Jan 08: Court documents reveal how two former San Juan College instructors allegedly fraudulently obtained more than $200,000 using a personal company to obtain training/certificate fees. Steven Gerencser, 49, and Daniel Uhl, 64, each face 32 felony counts of fraud and embezzlement, according to a criminal complaint. Gerencser and Uhl allegedly conducted "numerous" training sessions between Sept. 8, 2017, and April 30, 2018, during which they used the SJC School of Energy's equipment, certificates and curriculum but billed the participating companies through their personal business, Four Corners Well Control, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. (link)

Jan 07: A scholar whose carefully crafted fiction helped expose the rot within some sectors of the modern academy is now under fire from his home, Portland State University, although prominent academics throughout the West have risen to his defense. Peter Boghossian, an assistant professor of philosophy at Portland State University in Oregon, led a trio of scholars last year who submitted to leading publications what they called "intentionally broken" papers on gender, race and sexuality. Several of the absurd pieces were published. Now, Portland State has initiated disciplinary action against Mr. Boghossian for what it calls a breach of the institution's ethical guidelines. (link)

Compliance/Regulatory & Legal Events

Jan 30: The investigation into the University of Maryland's football program cost the University System of Maryland more than $1.57 million, with four of eight members of a special commission billing the university more than six figures apiece for their two months of work, according to recently released documents and invoices. Tasked in August with probing the culture within the football program, the commission submitted a 192-page report of their findings in October. (link)

Jan 25: A 21-year-old Radford University student has been charged with stabbing a classmate to death. Luisa Ines Tudela Harris Cutting, of Jeffersonton in Culpeper County, was charged with second-degree murder. Authorities said it was the city of Radford's first murder charge in eight years. The victim was identified Friday by Radford police as Alexa Cannon, 20, the daughter of a Roanoke family, and like Cutting, a student at Radford University. (link)

Jan 23: Michigan State University will pay for former university President Lou Anna Simon's criminal defense as its legal bills related to the Larry Nassar scandal approach $20 million. With those legal fees, plus a settlement with hundreds of Nassar's victims, payments to consultants and a fund that had been set up for some of Nassar's victims to receive counseling, the total cost to MSU as of the middle of November was more than $523 million, according to records obtained through public records requests. (link)

Jan 22: More than three years of missteps in handling sexual assault cases has made Michigan State University swing the pendulum from not believing victims to now discriminating against male students, three lawsuits allege. The suits -- which include one by a former MSU football player -- allege the male students involved were found "guilty" by the administrative investigative system simply because they were male. The suits go on to allege the university has deprived those students of their due process rights by not allowing them a live hearing with the chance to cross-examine their accusers as mandated by a federal court ruling last year. (link)

Jan 22: Western University has now fired their defence lawyers in the wake of controversy. The situation began over the university's choice in defence statements in response to the ongoing lawsuit involving the Christidis family, Western, Western's Student Council, The Spoke tavern, Jared Dejong, and his father. The defence was in response to the lawsuit over the 2015 death of Andrea Christidis, a first-year Western student who was hit and killed by Dejong who had been drinking at a campus bar before opting to drive. The accusations of both Dejong and Western's defence were what resulted in the controversy as both parties heavily inferred that the victim, Andrea Christidis, was to blame for the accident. (link)

Jan 22: Central Connecticut State University President Zulma R. Toro announced Tuesday that she is seeking to fire two longtime theater professors after investigators concluded that each had likely engaged in sexual misconduct with one or more students. Toro also announced plans to appoint new leadership for the university's Office of Diversity & Equity and to reorganize the human resources department after evidence showed that administrators for years failed to take proper action on complaints of sexual misconduct. (link)

Jan 18: A group suing UNC-Chapel Hill accuses the university of improperly using race to admit students, to the detriment of white and Asian-American applicants. But UNC defends its practices. On Friday, the university filed a motion for summary judgment, saying the plaintiffs hadn't established sufficient grounds for their lawsuit to continue. An organization called Students for Fair Admissions sued UNC-Chapel Hill and Harvard University in November 2014. The lawsuits represent a major challenge to the use of race in college admissions. Court rulings in the cases could affect universities around the United States. (link)

Jan 17: Schlichter Bogard & Denton, a St. Louis law firm that has made a national name for itself suing employers over excessive retirement-plan fees, said Wednesday that it has reached a $10.65 million settlement with Duke University. The settlement covers two lawsuits against the Durham, N.C., school. The first, filed in 2016, alleged excessive fees and the second, filed last year, accused Duke of improperly using assets of its 403(b) retirement plan to pay university employees. (link)

Jan 14: A former Michigan State University political science professor propositioned a graduate student "for sexual favors in exchange for his academic guidance regarding her research and paper," according an MSU investigative report provided to the State Journal. William Jacoby -- an eminent figure in his field who until last year served as the editor of the American Journal of Political Science -- sexually harassed graduate students at both the University of Michigan and MSU, according to investigations by those institutions. (link)

Jan 11: A mistake in Republicans' tax overhaul is allowing many state universities to escape a crackdown on highly paid executives. Lawmakers inadvertently exempted public universities -- though not private ones -- from a new 21 percent tax they created on nonprofits that pay their employees more than $1 million. There are hundreds of million-dollar employees on college campuses, many of them football and basketball coaches. Republicans are now trying to correct the snafu, though there is no sign that Congress will act anytime soon. In the meantime, the oversight is saving public universities millions in taxes. The levy is paid by the school, not the employee. (link)

Jan 08: A bitter lawsuit between Chicago State University and two professors who published a blog rebuking school leadership is coming to an end after more than four years. Chicago State has agreed to pay $650,000 in damages and attorneys fees to professors Robert Bionaz and Phillip Beverly, concluding yet another costly litigation involving the Far South Side institution in recent years. The professors alleged that the university violated their free speech rights in repeatedly attempting to shut down their blog, CSU Faculty Voice, which they billed as "the faculty's uncensored voice." (link)

Jan 07: An Ohio professor who applied for a job with a tenure track at Wichita State University says officials retracted an employment offer after she told them she was pregnant and asked about campus childcare options. Heiliger, a 41-year-old visiting assistant professor of gender, sexuality and feminist studies at Ohio's Oberlin College, says in her suit that she applied for an assistant professor of women's studies position at WSU in late 2017 and was interviewed in person on Feb. 23, 2018. She says she was offered the job in a March 15 phone call with Center for Women's Studies director Chinyere Okafor. (link)

Jan 06: A UW-Oshkosh professor recently sued her university and the UW System Board of Regents to prevent them from releasing to the Wisconsin State Journal records relating to an investigation of alleged plagiarism by the professor. The State Journal requested records Oct. 9 relating to UW-Oshkosh's investigation into the plagiarism allegations made against UW-Oshkosh English professor Christine Roth. Among the documents requested are the university complaint, an investigator's report filed by faculty members, a committee report of pre-tenure review and an agreement struck between the university and Roth's lawyer, Peter Culp of Dempsey, Edgarton, St. Peter, Petak & Rosenfeldt Law Firm. (link)

Jan 04: A college student who faces serious discipline or expulsion over accusations of sexual assault must be allowed to question his accuser at a hearing before a neutral fact-finder, a state appeals court ruled Friday, joining the ongoing debate about how schools handle allegations of sexual abuse on campus. The case involves a University of Southern California football player who was expelled for allegedly raping another student without the benefit of a hearing and an opportunity to face his accuser. (link)

Jan 03: A former University of Florida faculty member found by the administration to have had a sexual relationship with a female graduate student is suing the school, claiming UF is trying to sabotage his career. In the lawsuit, Kelly A. Jordan, 38, of Washington, D.C., alleges UF officials breached a confidentiality agreement. In exchange for agreeing to resign as associate chair and program director of UF's Nuclear Engineering Reactor on May 15, 2017, Jordan said he was assured that UF would drop its Title IX investigation against him and offer him letters of recommendation for other jobs. (link)

Jan 01: The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas filed a lawsuit Tuesday over a state law requiring contractors to certify that they do not boycott Israel or Israel-controlled territories, arguing the law forces people to choose between their First Amendment rights and their livelihoods. The lawsuit claims the four plaintiffs bringing the suit have either lost "contracting opportunities" because they declined to sign the certification, or they signed "at the expense" of their First Amendment rights. (link)

Campus Life & Safety Events

Jan 30: A University of Central Florida sophomore was arrested after police found an automatic weapon in his car on campus, according to university officials. Max Bennett Chambers, a 19-year-old mechanical engineering major, was arrested Tuesday and charged with two felonies linked to possessing what an affidavit called a machine gun and bump stock. Police have banned him from campus. An anonymous tip warned that a student may have made devices that turn a semiautomatic weapon into an automatic weapon, increasing the rate of fire, according to the UCF Police Department. Such devices are illegal in Florida. (link)

Jan 27: Professor "watch lists," social media trolls and threatening emails have become all too familiar for college professors, but University of Illinois faculty members are debating another twist: antagonists who actually enroll in their classes. A resolution to protect University of Illinois faculty members from disruptive students in class is under consideration in the campus Academic Senate, prompted by a case involving a professor who's been a vocal critic of Chief Illiniwek. Jay Rosenstein, professor of media and cinema studies, said a community member who didn't like his politics and harassed him on social media "for months" enrolled in one of his classes last fall. (link)

Jan 24: Mitchell Lee Stewart, 25, and Ashley Shuntal Rucker, 26, were confirmed by Auburn police Friday morning as suspects taken into custody Thursday at Auburn University's Campus. Around 10 a.m., an Auburn police officer on routine patrol attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a vehicle on Mell Street near Spindle Hall on the university's campus. The vehicle stopped after a brief pursuit and the driver attempted to flee on foot, police said. The suspect was taken into custody near Haley Center. An Auburn police officer sustained a minor injury to his leg and was treated on the scene by Auburn Fire Division paramedics, police said. (link)

Jan 23: The University of South Florida St. Petersburg says that it mistakenly sent 430 acceptance emails to applicants over the weekend. In a statement to ABC News, the school said that the emails were sent on Saturday and that they were a result of "human error." Soon after the initial email, the school sent out a follow-up email to the students that said, "There was an error in the system. Please disregard the previous email." (link)

Jan 22: A former prosecutor in Wilkes and Yadkin counties was convicted last week of going onto Wake Forest University's campus even after the school banned him because he was accused of using a handheld mirror under a desk to look at a female student two years ago. And because he trespassed on the campus, he violated a deferred-prosecution agreement that would have kept a conviction off his record if he had complied with all the conditions. Instead, Brooke McKinley Webster, 44, of Surrey Path Court in Winston-Salem was convicted of misdemeanor secret peeping and second-degree trespass on Jan. 16. (link)

Jan 17: The Michigan State University board of trustees voted Thursday morning to accept the resignation of its embattled interim president, John Engler, effective immediately. People in the room for the vote broke into applause. Engler has been a controversial leader, appointed a year ago in the wake of a sexual-abuse scandal and charged with changing the university culture but often inadvertently offending the victims of disgraced former university sports medicine and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar with his words. (link)

Jan 15: The board governing North Carolina's public university system is forcing out the head of the state's flagship public university hours after she ordered a toppled Confederate statue's base removed. Carol Folt said Tuesday she was protecting public safety by having workers haul the marble pedestal off a main quad after midnight. She also announced it would be among her final acts ahead of resigning in May. Hours later, the statewide university system's Board of Governors made her resignation effective at the end of this month. (link)

Jan 11: Students and faculty at the University of California (UC) have been warned not to use messaging apps and social media while visiting China, for fear their communications could be used against them by the country's law enforcement agencies. The guidance from one of the biggest school networks in the US is the latest concern to be raised over Western travel to China following the December 1 arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of US authorities. The UC guidance also appeared to reference the case of Paul Whelan, a US citizen arrested in Russia last month on suspicion of espionage. (link)

Jan 01: A University of Tennessee, Knoxville, academic adviser in the College of Architecture and Design was placed on paid administrative leave Monday and barred from campus after UT learned he sexually harassed female students at his previous university. Lee W. Waldrep started at UT Knoxville on March 1, according to Tyra Haag, director of media relations at UT. That was seven months after the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign finished its investigation into claims made by eight female students, barring Waldrep from the campus. (link)


Jan 23: Hanging red lanterns welcome visitors to the University of Maryland's Confucius Institute, the oldest of about 100 Chinese language and cultural centers that have popped up over the last 15 years on American campuses, subsidized by millions of dollars from China's central government. But last fall, when four U.S. Senate investigators walked into the Confucius offices in Maryland and spent hours questioning staff, they weren't looking for an educational exchange. The committee has been seeking detailed information from the university about the program, including contracts, email exchanges and financial arrangements that school administrators have kept under wraps since it started in 2004. (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.

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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