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Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy

Case in Point:
Lessons for the proactive manager

December 2019
Vol. 11 No. 12
Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin', into the future.

-- Steve Miller

Every year I make the comment that it is hard to believe we have reached the end of another year. Yet it really does feel like 2019 has gone by at record pace. It is also hard to believe that this marks the completion of our eleventh year of publishing Case in Point. We continue to add new readers across the United States and from international institutions as well. We hope that we are helping improve higher education in some small way with our efforts. Last December we included the following about the goals of this publication. With the continued growth in readership, I thought it would be a good way to end this year as well.

CIP's Primary Goal

Our goal has always been very simple: we believe it's cheaper to proactively manage risk than to react and remediate crises from risk management failures. We provide an overview that allows you to scan the news events occurring throughout our industry each month and ask yourself, ''How can I prevent this from happening here?'' If you realize you have a similar high risk exposure at your institution from this review, you can do something to proactively reduce the risk. What that ''something'' is will depend on the risk, your role, and many other factors; however, doing nothing is a dangerous thing in the world in which we now operate. Our larger goal is to help develop risk-intelligent institutions. We should note that we are not anti-risk. Risk is always going to be with us in life, but we can consider risk and be wise in the actions we take. This is important because any money we spend on remediation, settlements, and investigations is money we aren't spending on education, research, and outreach.

You might also note that we now include a topic before each article summary. This came from a reader's suggestion, and we hope this allows you to evaluate articles more quickly to determine their relevance to you and your role. You can also see select articles throughout the month if you follow us on twitter at @AUOACP. We welcome your suggestions on ways we can further improve Case in Point

We now invite you to review the events of the past month with a view toward proactively managing risk at your institution. We hope you all have a Happy New Year and we will see you in 2020.

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

Information Security & Technology Events

Dec 12: Cyber Attack: Walla Walla University officials are investigating a campus-wide cyber attack that crashed online networks and phone lines this fall-finals week. School officials today referred to the hacking, discovered Monday, as a ransomware incident but did not confirm a monetary ransom was demanded. WWU's email system is working once again, but a person answering a general contact phone on the campus said all other office phones have not been restored as of this morning. (link)

Fraud & Ethics Related Events

Dec 18: Academic Fraud: The University of Houston must vacate three wins from the 2018 football season as part of a self-imposed penalty for academic misconduct committed by a former tutor, the NCAA announced Wednesday. The NCAA infractions committee cited UH for two Level II violations, including exceeding the allotted time limit for team activities within the volleyball program. (link)

Dec 13: Embezzlement: A former St. Louis Community College employee was sentenced Friday to more than six years in prison for stealing more than $7.5 million from a program designed to provide job training. Donald L. Robison, 57, of Ballwin, Missouri, pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering charges in August. In addition to the prison sentence, Robison was fined $125,000. Robison's case was unusual because he invested the money and made millions of dollars in profits. (link)

Dec 12: Falsified Data: Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Thursday settled with Temple University regarding years of false reporting by its Fox Business School to publications, including U.S. News and World Report, in order to get a No. 1 ranking for its online MBA program. The settlement by Temple with the Attorney General's office includes $250,000 in new scholarships for Fox students. The false reporting, "done intentionally and knowingly to boost the school's rankings, elevated Fox Business School as the nation's top online MBA program for several consecutive years. The school used this ranking to attract prospective student applicants, according to the settlement agreement," Shapiro said in a statement. (link)

Dec 09: Fraud: A 37-year-old researcher at the University of Kansas, Liuqi Gu, has been charged with two counts of theft and four related criminal charges according to the Kansas Attorney General's Office. The complaint alleges from November 2016 to October 2018, Gu falsely represented that purchases he made from Thermo-Fisher Scientific were for the use of the University of Kansas in order to receive discounts from the company for his personal benefit or the benefit of another. It also alleges Gu used confidential information acquired in the course of his employment with the University of Kansas in order to avoid paying sales tax totaling between $25,000 and $100,000 on those purchases. (link)

Dec 06: Conflicts of Interest: All too often, what's publicly known about faculty members' outside activities, even those that could influence their teaching, research, or public-policy views, depends on where they teach. Academic conflicts of interest elude scrutiny because transparency varies from one university and one state to the next. ProPublica discovered those inconsistencies over the past year as we sought faculty outside-income forms from at least one public university in all 50 states. (link)

Dec 04: Theft: A former Helena College employee who said he used the wrong credit card on his Amazon Prime account has pleaded guilty to theft from the college. Last month, a Montana Legislative Audit Division report found that a Helena College employee had misused a state procurement card, or "procard." Auditors wrote that "the agency was aware of actual or suspected theft but did not immediately notify either the legislative auditor or the attorney general," as state law requires, the report stated. (link)

Dec 03: Fraud/Theft: Payment scams, employee thefts and a fire that destroyed a Department of Conservation and Recreation building contributed to more than half a million dollars' worth of property losses at state agencies in the last two years. Under Massachusetts law, government workers must immediately notify the state auditor if taxpayer-owned property goes missing, whether it was misplaced, stolen or destroyed. Records reviewed by the NBC10 Boston Investigators show public entities in Massachusetts logged more than $554,000 in lost, stolen or destroyed property during the two-year period from July 2017 through July 2019. (link)

Dec 01: Financial Irregularities: The University of Texas at Austin is investigating financial irregularities tied to a former procurement director who resigned from the system flagship in mid-April and now holds a similar position at the Austin Independent School District. An internal UT review found that Felix Alvarez, former assistant vice president for procurement, business and payment services, double-dipped on travel funds, may have misused purchasing cards and raffled off athletic tickets for personal gain, costing the university several thousand dollars, according to one source who has seen the document. The review has not been released publicly and appears to be related to a university police investigation. (link)

Compliance/Regulatory & Legal Events

Dec 18: Gender Discrimination Settlement: The University of Arizona paid $100,000 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit with one of its professors, the university and the woman who sued announced. It's the second lawsuit the university settled this year related to unequal pay for female professors. Dr. Katrina Miranda, a tenured associate professor in the school's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, claimed in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in November 2018 that there's a pattern of systematic discrimination against female faculty members in UA's College of Science. (link)

Dec 18: Harassment & Solicitation: A church leader and university professor in northeastern Missouri has been charged with patronizing prostitution after allegedly trying to solicit an 18-year-old on Grindr with offers of an Arby's gift card and gas money. The investigation began after Truman State University police received a tip that Barry Poyner had been "harassing" male students and "offering to pay for items for sexual favors," according to court documents. Poyner, 57, was allegedly contacting the students on the popular gay dating app Grindr. (link)

Dec 17: Sexual Assault of a Minor: A music instructor is charged with sexual assault after a 14-year-old girl told police he cornered her and touched her inappropriately during a lesson. Adam Peoples, 29, faces one count of second-degree sexual assault. He has been released from the Craighead County jail on $100,000 bond. The 14-year-old told police she knew Peoples as a music instructor through her school's band program, and her parents were paying for private lessons with him. During a private lesson on Dec. 3 on the Arkansas State University campus, Peoples allegedly pushed the girl against the wall and began kissing her, according to the affidavit. (link)

Dec 16: Housing Lawsuit: The owners of a struggling luxury dorm at the University of Oklahoma sued the college Monday for allegedly breaking a commitment to rent retail and parking spaces at a 1,230-bed complex at its flagship campus. Provident Oklahoma Education Resources Inc., a non-profit that financed the $250 million project with municipal bonds, sued the university in state court, saying that if it had known the school would break its promise it never would have built the dorm, which includes a theater, a hair salon and a fitness center. Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Provident is seeking more than $250 million in damages. (link)

Dec 14: NCAA Allegations: Southern California's basketball program has received a notice of allegations from the NCAA following a federal investigation into corruption and bribery in the sport. The school said in a statement Friday night it has "cooperated with the NCAA since it first became aware of the issues" raised in the notice, and it "looks forward to an expeditious resolution of this matter." The notice had been expected, but the NCAA's timeline for ruling on USC's case is uncertain. The NCAA opened similar cases against North Carolina State, Kansas, and Oklahoma State this year. (link)

Dec 13: Sex Discrimination Lawsuit: A University of Texas law professor is suing the college after she says the law school intentionally paid her less because she's a woman and in retaliation for previous complaints she made about a wage gap between male and female faculty. Linda Mullenix, who has taught law at UT since 1991, filed the suit in federal court Thursday. In her suit, Mullenix says she has been paid substantially less than her male counterparts for several years, despite having taught longer and having more accolades and publications. (link)

Dec 13: Denial of Education Lawsuit: A Yale student expelled for sexually assaulting a female student after he had been acquitted of the charges in court filed a lawsuit against the university Friday seeking $110 million in damages. The lawsuit by Saifullah Khan, which alleges that Yale denied him an education and ruined his reputation, is the latest legal volley that began in the fall of 2015 when Khan was accused of rape by a fellow student. (link)

Dec 13: Hiring Practices Allegations; The former police chief at Texas State University and his top deputy were accused of hiring unqualified officers -- including one who allegedly "slept with a sexual assault victim" while investigating her case -- and presiding over a department marked by favoritism, low morale and high turnover, according to an internal university memo obtained by The Texas Tribune and police department correspondence. Former Chief Jose BaƱales and his chief of staff, Lt. Alex Villalobos, were also accused of overruling investigators who tried to flag problematic job applicants, according to the records. (link)

Dec 11: Bullying, Racism Accusations: New Mexico State's Doug Martin denied any wrongdoing as head coach of the Aggies football program amid a recent complaint made to university administration. The Office of the Attorney General is in contact with university officials who are conducting a review of student athlete safety and financial accountability matters at New Mexico State, the AG's office confirmed. According to a letter from the AG's Office to New Mexico State President John Floros, "The Office of the Attorney General is in receipt of multiple complaints against New Mexico State University." (link)

Dec 11: Battery & Negligence Lawsuit: A member of Linfield College's board of trustees resigned earlier this year after a student who also served on the board complained that he sexually assaulted her as they were leaving a faculty-trustee dinner and later at a bar where the trustees had gathered, according to a federal suit. AnnaMarie Motis told the board's chair that trustee David Jubb put his hands up her dress twice on an evening in February and touched her buttocks and genitalia, the suit says. Her suit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Portland, accuses Jubb of battery and the college of negligence in failing to protect her. She's seeking at least $550,000 in damages. (link)

Dec 10: Foreign Funding: An Education Department investigation revealed universities failed to report more than a billion dollars in foreign funding, which officials believe is only a sliver of the unreported overseas donations flowing onto campuses. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told the Washington Examiner she had launched a preliminary investigation into six universities but already turned up an alarming $1.3 billion in foreign funding over the past seven years from nations such as China, Russia, and Qatar that the schools hadn't told the federal government about, despite their legal requirement to do so. (link)

Dec 09: NCAA Allegation: NC State officials are disputing the NCAA's allegation that former Adidas consultant T.J. Gassnola gave $40,000 to a former Wolfpack assistant coach, who was supposed to help facilitate getting the money to star player Dennis Smith Jr.'s family in October 2015 to ensure he enrolled at the school. In a 46-page response to the NCAA notice of allegations that the university received in July, NC State officials questioned whether there was evidence -- as laid out in last year's federal trial -- that Gassnola actually delivered $40,000 to former assistant coach Orlando Early, who was supposed to forward the money to Shawn Farmer, Smith's former trainer, who was then supposed to give the money to Smith's father. (link)

Dec 08: Title IX: It had been more than six years when the actress posted "Me too" as her Facebook status. October 2017 was a time of reckoning for the theater, film and media industries as the Harvey Weinstein scandal spurred the #MeToo movement across the globe. Actresses around the world were asked to post "Me too" as their status if they had experienced sexual misconduct or harassment in the industry. In Chicago, an OU alumna was one of them. (link)

Dec 06: Racial & Age Discrimination: Former University of Pittsburgh strength and conditioning coach Tim Beltz is suing the university for racial and age discrimination, according to documents filed Friday in U.S. District Court. Mr. Beltz, who is described as a Caucasian man "older than 40" in the suit, was employed by the Pitt athletic department from August 1999 until he was fired on June 30, 2018. The suit claims that Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke "repeatedly expressed preferences for younger coaches" and "encouraged [her staff] to hire 'young and hungry go-getters' who were up and coming." (link)

Dec 04: Age Discrimination Settlement: Two University of Oregon professors reached a settlement this week in two age discrimination and retaliation lawsuits filed against the university and former College of Design Dean Christoph Lindner, according to a press release from the professors' attorney. The settlement requires the university to pay $170,000 to Warren Gerald Gast and Hans Joachim Neis, both architecture professors at the UO's Portland campus. (link)

Dec 03: Pollution Lawsuit: Two environmental groups claim in a federal lawsuit that UNC-Chapel Hill is spewing too much air pollution from coal-burning boilers in violation of a federal permit. The campus burned too much coal in its boilers and failed to maintain logbooks of required inspections, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club said in their lawsuit. Pollution from the power plant can trigger asthma attacks, decrease lung function and even cause early death, the lawsuit said. UNC-Chapel Hill has a plant with two boilers that burn coal, natural gas, and fuel oil to produce electricity and steam. (link)

Dec 02: Medical Malpractice Lawsuit: A surgical towel and silver staple left inside a Burlington cancer patient after an operation at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics will cost a $1.2 million settlement, the state agreed Monday. Joseph Lee Caskey, 46, sued the state and UI physicians Sam Brancato and Paul Kogan in April, nearly two years after severe pain and discomfort brought him back to UIHC for exploratory surgery - and the discovery of a towel nearly 2 feet by over 1 foot, or 57 by 35 centimeters, holding a staple in his abdomen, according to the lawsuit. (link)

Dec 02: ADA & FMLA Lawsuit: Barbara Lentz was a legal writing professor at Wake Forest University School of Law since 2000, but her contract was not renewed in September of 2018. In a lawsuit, Lentz alleges she was let go due to discrimination based on her age, gender, and medical condition. Lentz also alleges she was wrongfully discharged under the Americans With Disabilities Act and Family Medical Leave Act. In 2018, she was diagnosed with hypertension as well as other medical issues that caused her to miss orientation week for that semester, which she says was the impetus for the school terminating her employment. (link)

Dec 02: ADA Compliance Lawsuit: Harvard University agreed to make its website and online courses friendlier to those who are deaf or hard of hearing as part of a settlement announced Wednesday in a federal lawsuit. The suit, filed in 2015 by the National Association of the Deaf, alleged that many of Harvard's online videos, courses and podcasts did not include captions or were inaccurately transcribed. By offering the content to the public without captions, the suit alleged, Harvard was violating federal civil rights laws protecting those with disabilities. (link)

Campus Life & Safety Events

Dec 17: Fraternity Attack/Lawsuit: A Texas State University fraternity has been suspended and two men face charges after members of the fraternity allegedly attacked another student. He was left with a fractured skull and a traumatic brain injury, according to his attorneys. Nikolas Panagiotopoulos was allegedly attacked by a group of Pi Kappa Phi members who mistook him for a member of another fraternity, according to a lawsuit filed in Travis County on behalf of the student. The incident occurred outside the fraternity house. (link)

Dec 16: Hazing: An Auburn fraternity is being suspended for four years following violations of the University's anti-hazing policy. Delta Zeta, a chapter of Beta Theta Pi comprised of 164 undergraduate Auburn students, is being suspended for violations involving "physical abuse," servitude and alcohol, according to letters obtained by The Plainsman that were addressed to past and present Beta Theta Pi members. The letters did not offer any details about the accusations. (link)

Dec 16: Assault & Racial Slurs: A fraternity at Indiana University in Bloomington is under investigation for allegations of physical assault and anti-Semitic and racial slurs, officials said. Campus police and the Monroe County Prosecutor's Office are reviewing an incident that took place at the fraternity Friday night, according to a statement released Sunday by the university. The announcement comes amid increased scrutiny of college fraternities across the nation and a month after Syracuse University halted all fraternity social activities because of suspected ties to racist and anti-Semitic incidents. In the past year, at least five young men have died in circumstances involving fraternities, including in Pennsylvania and Washington state. (link)

Dec 16: Rape: A St. Louis man has been charged in connection with an alleged rape at Lincoln University. Khalil McDonald, 18, is charged with one count of second-degree rape. The incident is believed to have occurred early Saturday morning in Dawson Hall, according to a Lincoln University Police Department probable cause statement. The alleged victim told officers McDonald had come to her room and told her to take her clothes off. She said she had felt intimidated and complied with McDonald's demand. (link)

Dec 14: Hazing: For most of the fall, whenever Kayla Miller-People heard the familiar sounds of a La Salle women's soccer game beginning on the field not far from her dorm, she turned up her music and closed her eyes. She didn't want to hear parents cheering and whistles blowing and her former teammates scoring goals and running around the field. All she wanted to do was forget. The university investigated allegations of hazing by fellow players and retaliation by Paul Royal, who has been head coach of the women's soccer team for 17 years, according to emails between school officials and Miller-People's family obtained from her father, Alfred Miller. (link)

Dec 13: Murder: One teenager has been arrested in connection with the stabbing death of a Barnard College freshman in a Manhattan park earlier this week, three senior law enforcement sources said Friday. He is charged with second-degree murder, armed robbery and criminal possession of a weapon with intent to use, according to a senior law enforcement official. The 18-year-old victim, Tessa Majors, moved to New York from Virginia and was a first-year student at Barnard College. She was walking down steps near the park's entrance on West 116th Street just before 7 p.m. Wednesday when police say she was attacked by a group of people. (link)

Dec 12: Minors on Campus/Lawsuit: Purdue University faces two new lawsuits for its involvement with Camp DASH, which Purdue hosted in Tarkington Hall during the summer of 2017. The lawsuits -- one from a camper's parent and another from a camper's guardian -- were filed Monday in Marion County. The suits also names Indiana University, Indiana University School of Medicine and Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute as defendants in the cases. P. Lopes, the guardian of one of the campers, and A. Herrick, a parent of one of the campers, claim in their lawsuits that Camp DASH was understaffed. The suits also allege that counselors were poorly trained, and the camp was not adequately staffed with counselors to supervise the children. (link)

Dec 12: Sexual Assault: Two women separately accused University of South Florida football player LaDarrius Jackson of sexual assault in 2017, saying the 6-foot-4, 250-pound defensive end forced himself on them in their own homes. Police arrested Jackson twice in two weeks on charges of sexual battery and false imprisonment. He pleaded not guilty and posted bond while awaiting trial. The university also opened a student conduct case against the then-22-year-old junior. It determined he violated its policy against "non-consensual sexual intercourse" and expelled him. Yet one year later, Jackson played before a crowd of nearly 30,000 fans as Tennessee State University took on Vanderbilt in Nashville. (link)

Dec 11: Hazing: Officials at the University of Central Florida in Orlando say a fraternity is accused of forcing a blindfolded pledge to do cocaine in order to join the group. The Sigma Chi fraternity is accused of forcing the student to do drugs in October and stay at the frat house for a week, according to an incident report. The student was initiated shortly after taking the drug. The chapter was suspended for the remainder of the fall semester and the upcoming spring semester in November for an unrelated incident. (link)

Dec 10: Free Speech & Race Relations: President Trump plans to sign an executive order on Wednesday targeting what he sees as anti-Semitism on college campuses by threatening to withhold federal money from educational institutions that fail to combat discrimination, three administration officials said on Tuesday. The order will effectively interpret Judaism as a race or nationality, not just a religion, to prompt a federal law penalizing colleges and universities deemed to be shirking their responsibility to foster an open climate for minority students. In recent years, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions -- or B.D.S. -- movement against Israel has roiled some campuses, leaving some Jewish students feeling unwelcome or attacked. (link)

Dec 05: Civil Liberties: Administrators at the University of Scranton granted its student government unfettered authority to decide which students can form political groups on campus. Then the administration stood by when student government members abused that authority to deny recognition to a prospective conservative student group because of their political beliefs. Today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is publicly calling on university leadership to defend students' right to form political groups free from political discrimination. (link)

Dec 04: Free Speech: For weeks, University of Texas students have been protesting against and asking school leaders to fire professors with histories of sexual misconduct. Now, a group of students is calling for the removal of another faculty member they say is promoting harmful ideas about the age of consent and sexual relations with minors. Thomas K. Hubbard, a professor of classics in UT's College of Liberal Arts, has written extensively on relationships between adolescent boys and adult men, often using classic literature's depictions of homosexual relationships to suggest changing age of consent laws and challenging modern norms about youth sexuality. (link)

Dec 03: Accidental Death on Campus: A University of Wisconsin-Madison employee has died from injuries sustained from a fall while working on campus on Nov. 30. The employee, Roberto Vergara, began working at the university in September of 2009. He was employed in custodial services for the university's Division of Facilities Planning & Management. The incident occurred early Saturday morning. Vergara fell when leaving a building and hit his head on the sidewalk in the 200 block of Bernard Court. (link)

Dec 02: Burglary, Assault, Harassment: Georgetown basketball players Josh LeBlanc and Galen Alexander received restraining orders in November resulting from accusations of harassment and burglary, and freshman Myron Gardner was accused of "sexual harassment and assault," according to one of the filings. According to court records obtained by ESPN, a Georgetown student filed Nov. 5 for a restraining order against LeBlanc and Alexander. On Nov. 12, the student's roommate filed for a separate restraining order against Gardner, LeBlanc and Alexander. (link)

Dec 02: Anthem Protest Lawsuit: A Kennesaw State University student has reached a settlement with several defendants she accused of violating her civil rights after she and other cheerleaders kneeled during a football game to protest police misconduct and other issues. The student, Tommia Dean, settled the case last week with four of the five defendants: former university president Sam Olens, former state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, deputy athletics director Matt Griffin and senior associate athletics director Scott Whitlock. (link)

Dec 02: Confederate Monuments: Just over a year after the Confederate monument was pulled down by protesters, the University of North Carolina System announced the statue commonly known as "Silent Sam" will be given to a Confederate history group. A $2.5 million charitable trust will go toward its care and preservation -- a move that angered critics of the statue. The UNC system announced Wednesday that Silent Sam would be given to the North Carolina Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which will now own all rights, title and interest in the monument as part of a legal settlement after the group sued the system, according to the news release. (link)

Dec 01: Research Accident: An Oregon State University employee was hurt in a research lab while setting up an experiment. The Gazette-Times reports on Tuesday the employee was setting up the experiment at O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory in a wave flume and became trapped. OSU's vice president for marketing and university relations Steve Clark says the flume in which the employee was trapped is a concrete basin normally filled with water to simulate wave action. He says the flume did not have water in it at the time. (link)

Dec 01: Threats: A South Florida man has been arrested for allegedly planning bomb attacks against two college deans, according to federal authorities. Salman Rashid, 23, of North Miami Beach, was arrested Monday for a charge of solicitation to commit a crime of violence, according to a criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of Florida on Monday. During the investigation, the FBI became aware of threats Rashid allegedly made over text messages to a female student at Miami Dade College, which prompted her to file a report with campus authorities. (link)

Dec 01: Murder: A Chicago man was charged Monday with strangling a college student in a university parking garage over the weekend, authorities said. Donald Thurman, 26, faces first-degree murder and aggravated sexual assault charges in the death of Ruth George, 19, University of Illinois Police Chief Kevin Booker said in a statement. George's body was found Saturday in the backseat of a family car after relatives told authorities they hadn't heard from her since Friday. Police and family members tracked her cellphone to a University of Illinois parking garage south of downtown Chicago. (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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