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Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy

Case in Point:
Lessons for the proactive manager

June 2020
Vol. 12 No. 06
“It takes less time to do things right than to explain why you did it wrong.“

-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This month we continue our review of last year's stories with a focus on the Compliance/Regulatory & Legal Category. As we have stated in prior years, this is a category that has grown substantially over the past five plus years. While there are periodic discussions about reducing the regulatory burden on higher education, few reductions actually materialize.

This is a difficult category to assess due to the wide range of issues we see each month and the multiple regulatory issues often present in a single story. From our assessment, here are the top six most frequent topics in 2019:

  1. Title IX
  2. Discrimination Litigation (age, sex, race, and others)
  3. Sexual Assault/Violence on Campus (Non-Title IX litigation)
  4. Employment Litigation
  5. NCAA Compliance
  6. Academic Related Litigation (regarding discipline, admissions, plagiarism, and others)

After looking at the 2019 stories, we think that these hot topics will continue to make headlines in higher education:

  1. Title IX - Changes announced by the Department of Education go into effect August 14, 2020, as of this writing. This is a quick timeline for change in the compliance world. Title IX will certainly draw a major amount of attention and resources across higher education in the coming year.
  2. NCAA Student Athlete Rights - Discussions regarding the use of name, likeness, and image (NIL) and other rights of student athletes will continue. How will compliance look in this new world? This will be an ongoing challenge in college athletics.
  3. Mistreatment/Bullying/Feeling Issues - The world seems to have changed dramatically during 2020, and we noticed several stories regarding the issues mentioned here. Students are open to voicing concerns more than ever on campuses, and administrators will have address these concerns head on in the age of social media. The ubiquity of social media has raised the stakes for higher education institutions.
  4. Foreign Influences on Higher Education - This issue has been at the forefront recently, and is worth our attention in 2020 and beyond. Foreign influences, actual or perceived, will affect both research and enrollment, particularly at research institutions.
  5. Open Records Litigation - The demand for transparency will likely grow in the coming years. We noted more stories involving open records requests than we can recall in previous years. If we had to guess, the expectation of transparency is here to stay.

Many other topics could emerge as serious issues, so pay close attention to this category each month. We again invite you to consider the wide range of other risks facing higher education with a view toward proactive risk management. As always, we welcome your comments or suggestions.

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

Information Security & Technology Events

Jun 28: Ransomware Attack: Hackers who attacked computer servers at the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine were paid a ransom of more than $1 million so researchers could regain access to data that had been maliciously encrypted by malware, according to university officials. The school’s Information Technology staff detected a security incident on June 1 and the affected areas, described as "a limited number of servers in the School of Medicine," were isolated from the UCSF core network. The attack left the servers inaccessible and malware uploaded during the breach encrypted data on the affected servers that was used by the attackers as proof of what had been perpetrated. (link)

Jun 11: Data Breach: MU Health Care experienced a data breach last fall involving patient information, it announced Thursday in a news release. On Sept. 21, MU Health Care learned an unauthorized person potentially gained access to the emails of some MU students affiliated with the health system. The information compromised included names, birthdates, medical record numbers, insurance information and some treatment information, including types of medication. Some social security numbers were also compromised for a limited number of patients, according to the release. (link)

Jun 10: Zoom Bombing: St. Bonaventure University says the FBI is investigating the racist "Zoom bombing" that occurred during a St. Bonaventure Zoom conversation on June 5. The school says its Office of Technology Services completed its investigation and turned its findings over to the Jamestown office of the FBI for further investigation. "More than one user hacked into the Zoom session just after 1 p.m. Friday and uttered racial epithets and drew swastikas and other offensive images on the PowerPoint presentation. They were quickly removed from the session, which continued without further incident," officials said in a release. (link)

Jun 08: Email Hack/Scam: Emma Cutkomp thought she was applying for a legitimate part-time job as a personal assistant. She said her research mentor at Florida Atlantic University sent her the listing for the job, and her mentor got the listing from another faculty member using an official campus email address, that ended with @fau.edu. "It looked normal," said Cutkomp. "Nothing was fishy, all the links worked out. It was from an FAU staff member, so there's a credential there where you have some trust built up." (link)

Jun 04: Data Breach: A hacker began publishing stolen Michigan State University financial documents and personal information this week, shortly after MSU refused to pay a ransom. The documents were published Wednesday or Thursday, according to screenshots provided by Brett Callow, a threat analyst with the anti-malware company Emsisoft. The screenshots show 3.2 gigabytes of information have been published with more coming "soon" in a second installment. A sampling of some of the information published includes a student's passport, an MSU letter from 2014 offering someone a postdoctoral research associate appointment and a receipt from a pizza order, according to information provided by Callow. (link)

Fraud & Ethics Related Events

Jun 25: Fraud/Chinese Connection: A Kansas researcher accused of concealing work he was doing for China while employed at the University of Kansas defrauded the U.S. government and the university, according to revised federal charges filed Thursday. The new indictment charges Feng "Franklin" Tao of Lawrence, Kansas, with seven counts of wire fraud and three counts of making false statements. It also seeks, if convicted, the forfeiture of funds obtained from the offenses. Federal prosecutors allege that from May 2017 until August 2019, Tao schemed to obtain money and property from the university, the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. (link)

Jun 24: Fraud Lawsuit: Lawyers for a group of Brown University athletes whose sports have been targeted for elimination are accusing the Ivy League school of fraud for working secretly on a plan to cut the programs without telling the players that their varsity careers were in jeopardy. In a letter to Brown President Christina Paxson, attorney Jeffrey Kessler said the school made a "purposeful choice to conceal critical information" that cost the athletes the chance to enroll at or transfer to different schools. The letter claims that the school's actions constitute fraud, citing nearly a dozen Rhode Island court cases as precedent. (link)

Jun 24: Student Fees Audit: Utah’s public colleges are frequently charging fees for services that students don’t use -- and increases get approved each year with little or no input from those expected to pay them, according to a state audit released Tuesday. "These just don’t seem to meet the smell test," said State Auditor John Dougall. The new report from his office calls on the state’s eight public institutions to reexamine what fees are actually necessary for all students to pay and what ones could be eliminated. And, it says, the Utah System of Higher Education board that oversees those schools should no longer "rubber stamp" the increases they propose each year without first hearing how raising the price could impact students. (link)

Jun 19: Academic Misconduct: More than a dozen University of Calgary students taking a third-year geology course this semester have been handed academic misconduct notices after sharing tutorial answers in an online chatroom. But one student says the course was open book and the professor gave them contradictory and confusing instructions. In a statement, the U of C said the professor discovered last month that many students in the class of 350 were sharing answers for tutorial assessments on a Discord server that were supposed to be done individually. (link)

Jun 10: Embezzlement: An internal investigation by Butte College has lead to five charges against former employee Teri Jo Buckman. Buckman, who worked at the college for 17 years, was most recently the office coordinator for its student health clinic. Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey told KRCR Buckman faces charges of embezzlement and petty theft (accused of stealing thousands of dollars of student fees) as well as two counts of forgery and one count of practicing medicine without a certificate. (link)

Jun 09: Chinese Ties: The former chairman of Harvard University’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department was indicted on Tuesday, accused of being involved with Wuhan University of Technology in China in a recruiting program which is known to steal proprietary information from businesses. Charles Lieber, 61, was indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of making false statements to federal authorities regarding his participation in China’s Thousand Talents Program, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. Lieber is accused of receiving a salary of up to $50,000 monthly and living expenses of up to $158,000 and lying to federal authorities in 2018 and 2019 about his involvement in the Thousand Talents Plan, according to the statement. (link)

Compliance/Regulatory & Legal Events

Jun 26: Sexual Misconduct Allegation: The dean of USC’s School of Dramatic Arts resigned Thursday after information emerged about a relationship he’d had with a student. A day after another woman described the relationship in a town hall meeting, Dean David Bridel sent a letter to faculty on Thursday acknowledging that he briefly dated a BFA senior in 2009. He said their relationship had ended amicably, but described the public characterization of the relationship as "grossly inaccurate." Provost Charles Zukoski announced in a memo to the school that he had accepted Bridel’s resignation, adding that the university is looking into the allegation. (link)

Jun 25: Sexual Misconduct: A former associate professor at Brigham Young University is no longer with the university after he was accused of sexually abusing a female student. Michael James Clay, 45, was charged Thursday with two second-degree felony counts of forcible sexual abuse. Clay worked in the university's geography department and was in charge of the victim's program of study, a probable cause statement said. (link)

Jun 22: Higher Ed Act Foreign Reporting: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos unveiled a new online portal that will make it easier for schools to report foreign gifts and contracts valued at more than $250,000 as required by law. Currently, the Department is not receiving sufficient information to determine compliance with Section 117's provisions. The new online portal requires institutions to provide more information about their foreign financial ties. For example, institutions must answer specific questions about each reportable transaction involving a foreign source, such as whether the foreign source is a foreign government, a foreign legal entity, an individual who is not a citizen or national of the United States, or a person acting as an agent of a foreign source. (link)

Jun 22: Child Pornography: A Towson University Police Department corporal has been arrested on multiple child pornography charges, the university confirmed Monday. Baltimore County police arrested Cpl. Peter Publico, 53, of Essex, on two felony charges of distributing child pornography and a misdemeanor charge of possession of child pornography. In a statement, the university said the alleged crimes didn’t involve any campus property. (link)

Jun 18: Title IX: A suspended LSU football player has filed a federal complaint against the university, claiming he was unjustly suspended after being accused of "non-consensual intercourse," court documents say. The Title IX complaint was filed in the Middle District of Louisiana by the player's attorneys, Susan Stone and Kristina Supler, on Thursday morning. It alleges the player's "constitutional rights were violated," that "he was given no access to the evidence against him until after his guilt was already determined," and "he was denied his right to confront and cross-examine his accuser and other witnesses." (link)

Jun 18: Sexual Assault: An associate professor at McMaster University has been arrested after Hamilton police allege he sexually assaulted a student. The victim, a woman, said she met her professor in Hamilton. Scott Watter was arrested Thursday for the allegations which stem back to 2017. Watter works in the department of psychology, neuroscience and behaviour. A teaching profile online notes he "studies attention and cognition and is interested in how these areas affect musical processing." (link)

Jun 17: Recruitment Violation Allegation: The Fresno State wrestling program is under investigation after internal reports surfaced that a stripper danced at a party last year that involved recruits visiting the university, Fresno State confirmed to The Sun Wednesday. Fresno State is looking into the allegation and is currently working with the NCAA as part of the investigation. If the allegations prove to be true, Fresno State could potentially be in violation of several University and NCAA rules. (link)

Jun 18: Sexual Assault: A University of Nebraska employee has been charged with sexually assaulting a teenage girl. Zhijun Xia, 29, is charged with creating child pornography, electronic child enticement and first-degree sexual assault of a child. According to an affidavit, a police report was made with the University of Nebraska on June 3. The report detailed an alleged sexual relationship that a now-17-year-old victim had with Xia, a graduate teaching assistant. (link)

Jun 16: Title IX/Title VII: The U.S. Supreme Court's decision cementing LGBTQ workers' protections from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination not only put employers on notice, it also signaled to colleges that they must ensure the fair treatment of transgender students playing campus sports and living in residence halls. The 6-to-3 ruling issued Monday extended protections against employment discrimination to LGBTQ people under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion or national origin. The court redefined its interpretation of "sex" under Title VII to encompass both sexual orientation and gender identity and, as a result, opened the door to challenges of this definition under Title IX, the law prohibiting sex discrimination at federally funded institutions. (link)

Jun 15: Bribery/Admissions Fraud: A former USC admissions official accused of accepting thousands of dollars in payments to ensure graduate-school admission for unqualified international students is expected to plead guilty Monday to a federal fraud charge. Hiu Kit David Chong admitted in his April plea agreement that he falsified applicants’ admission packets with doctored college transcripts, phony letters of recommendation and fraudulent personal statements. (link)

Jun 12: Breach of Contract Lawsuit: Former University of Illinois Professor Joseph Petry has filed a $7.9 million breach-of-contract lawsuit against the UI Board of Trustees in connection with his 2019 resignation agreement. The lawsuit, filed Thursday in the Illinois Court of Claims, accuses the board of violating the terms of the resignation agreement signed in April 2019, according to Petry’s attorneys at the Urbana law firm Webber & Thies. (link)

Jun 08: Wrongful Death Lawsuit: In the weeks leading up to the death of University of Utah student Lauren McCluskey at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, her friends noticed signs of abuse and reported it to student housing administrators. Those pleas for help -- as well as McCluskey’s direct reports to police -- were largely ignored based on her gender, according to a second lawsuit parents Matt and Jill McCluskey filed Monday against the university. (link)

Jun 06: Title IX Lawsuit Settlement: The University of Arizona has settled a lawsuit filed by a student who was physically abused by former Wildcats running back Orlando Bradford. The suit is one of two filed by students who say the school knew Bradford was a danger and failed to take adequate steps to protect them. Each student separately reported Bradford to police in September 2016, saying he repeatedly hit and choked them during the course of their relationships. Both suits claim the UA’s actions violated the plaintiffs’ Title IX rights. Title IX is a federal gender equity law that requires schools to provide students with an education free from sexual harassment, assault or dating violence. (link)

Jun 05: Breach of Contract Settlement: Kansas ended a prolonged contract settlement dispute with former football coach David Beaty by reaching a $2.55 million financial settlement, the school announced Friday. Beaty was owed $3 million when the Jayhawks fired him in November 2018. His Kansas teams went 6-42 in four seasons. Beaty sued the university's athletic department in federal court in March 2019, claiming Jayhawks officials launched an NCAA inquiry to avoid paying him a $3 million buyout he was owed for the final three years of his contract. (link)

Jun 05: Sexual Harassment: On the morning of 30 May, anthropologist Jade Guedes read an article in the online issue of The Harvard Crimson in which a former student alleged that archaeologist Gary Urton had propositioned her. The story triggered Guedes’s memory of an incident in July 2012: She had been a Ph.D. student at Harvard University, and Urton, who was soon to be department chair, had invited her to a "tête-à-tête" to discuss her promising research. Guedes had felt "really great--this big professor is interested in my work." (link)

Jun 05: NCAA Compliance: The NCAA Committee on Infractions on Friday placed Oklahoma State's men's basketball program on three years of probation and banned the Cowboys from playing in postseason tournaments next season. The penalties are the result of a Level I violation involving former associate head coach Lamont Evans, who was sentenced in June 2019 to three months in prison for accepting between $18,150 and $22,000 in bribes to steer players from South Carolina and Oklahoma State to certain agents and financial advisers. (link)

Jun 03: Title IX Lawsuit Order: Saying that Baylor University has used documents generated by the Pepper Hamilton law firm "as a sword and a shield," a federal magistrate on Tuesday ordered Baylor to turn over the firm’s records to attorneys for 15 women suing the school for alleged Title IX violations. The 48-page order represents a major step for the 15 former Baylor students, who allege that Baylor maintained discriminatory policies in handling reports of sexual assaults and that those practices increased risks of sexual assault. (link)

Jun 01: Chinese Student Visas: The Trump administration plans to cancel the visas of thousands of Chinese graduate students and researchers in the United States who have direct ties to universities affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army, according to American officials with knowledge of the discussions. The plan would be the first designed to bar the access of a category of Chinese students, who, over all, form the single largest foreign student population in the United States. American universities are expected to push back against the administration’s move. (link)

Jun 01: Tuition Lawsuits: Columbia, Brown, Penn, Purdue -- universities with hallowed traditions, proud alumni and another thing in common: Right now they're being sued by disgruntled students. The students claim that when campuses shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic, they should have been entitled to more of their money back. And the list of institutions facing such challenges is growing, including private institutions and entire public systems in California, Florida, North Carolina and Arizona. The cases -- now dozens in all -- are raising difficult questions about what truly makes a college education valuable. (link)

Campus Life & Safety Events

Jun 27: Racial Issues: Kansas State football players have taken a strong, unified stand against racism. Seemingly every member of the Wildcats’ active roster shared a letter on social media Saturday that states they will not "play, practice or meet" until K-State administrators create a policy that will allow a student to be expelled for displaying "openly racist, threatening or disrespectful actions" toward any of their fellow students. The letter came a day after several student-athletes at K-State threatened to boycott all team activities unless the university took action against a student that posted an insensitive tweet about George Floyd. (link)

Jun 23: Racial Issues: A cheerleader who used a racial slur on Twitter was removed from her college’s spirit squad and won’t attend the school. Screenshots of a Snapchat post about the death of George Floyd cost a lacrosse player her admission to a private university. Two more students withdrew from their state school after a similar Twitter thread showed them using a racial slur. On college campuses across the U.S., students are being haunted by their online posts. (link)

Jun 22: Racial Issues: An Oakland college professor has been placed on administrative leave after asking an Asian student to "Anglicize" her name, saying the pronunciation "sounds like an insult." Matthew Hubbard was unwilling to call on student Phuc Bui Diem Nguyen, a Vietnamese American freshman, by her given name, claiming that it too closely resembled a profanity in English. Growing up, Nguyen had gone by the nickname "May." But as a freshman at Laney College, she was excited to use her birth name, which means "happiness blessing." (link)

Jun 18: Campus Monuments: A Confederate monument will be moved from a prominent spot at the University of Mississippi to a Civil War cemetery in a secluded part of the Oxford campus. The state college board met Thursday and approved a proposal to move the monument. No timeline was given for the move. The estimated cost of the move is $1.2 million, which will be paid with private donations, not public money, the board said. (link)

Jun 14: Vandalism/Racial Issues: Activists on Saturday night toppled two pioneer statues on the University of Oregon campus that had been a flash point of controversy. The Pioneer and The Pioneer Mother statues were knocked off their pedestals by a small group of protesters. The 13-foot-tall Pioneer, commonly known as the Pioneer Father, then was dragged to the steps of Johnson Hall, the main administration building on campus. (link)

Jun 12: Shooting Death: Police say a 23-year-old man accused of shooting someone to death on the North Carolina State University campus has been charged with murder. N.C. State Police said in a statement that Theodore James Lee Jr. was arrested at the university’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh just before 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. N.C. State Police Chief Daniel L. House said an argument broke out between Lee and 61-year-old Quinten Crawford, and Lee pulled out a gun and shot the man. Police said Crawford was the father of Lee’s estranged girlfriend. (link)

Jun 10: Explosive Devices: Police arrested a man at Stony Brook University Hospital who allegedly had three explosive devices and an apparent BB gun, officials said. Robert Roden, a 33-year-old Mastic Beach man who was wearing a tactical vest and has no affiliation with the hospital, was found around 9 p.m. Tuesday, University Police Chief Robert Lenahan said. Roden was arrested on charges of criminal possession of a weapon, criminal contempt and two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance. Officials said additional charges were pending. (link)

Jun 09: Free Speech/Racial Issues: A UCLA lecturer was placed on leave after students criticized his response to a request to postpone a final exam because of protests over the death of George Floyd, the university said Tuesday. The UCLA Anderson School of Management said in a statement that accounting lecturer Gordon Klein's "classes have been reassigned to other faculty" as reports about his alleged conduct are being reviewed. (link)

Jun 08: Hate Crime: A Maryland man has agreed to plead guilty to a hate crime charge involving graffiti found at a university that threatened black students with lynching, authorities said Monday. Jerome Kevin Jackson, a 54-year-old black man, signed a conditional plea agreement on June 1, according to Wicomico County prosecutors. Jackson, a resident of Princess Anne, is scheduled to appear at a formal plea hearing on Friday. Officials at Salisbury University canceled classes for a day after the graffiti was found in February. According to the plea agreement, Jackson also will take responsibility for four other incidents involving "racist and sometimes gender discriminatory" graffiti found on campus last year. (link)

Jun 08: Race Issues: University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto has announced in an email to students on Friday that a mural in Memorial Hall will be removed. The mural includes images of enslaved Africans, as well as Native Americans. The mural has been a subject of debate for years. While some see it as a reflection of history, others find it offensive. There have been student sit-ins to protest for the mural's removal. Over the years, there have also been compromises and additions made. For example, in 2018 an African American artist was commissioned to add context to the mural. (link)

Jun 04: Coronavirus Testing: When students return to the Syracuse University dorms this fall, they’ll be tested for the novel coronavirus. So will their dorm’s sewage. As part of its reopening strategy, the university plans to routinely test sewage leaving each residence hall to spot signs of the virus before students even become sick. If the testing finds a sudden spike of virus in a dorm’s sewage, SU can start testing students in that building to get a jump on a potential outbreak. A person can be infected and start shedding the virus through their intestines up to a week before showing symptoms, Larsen said. (link)

Jun 04: Free Speech/Race Issues: A university police chief was suspended from work in Alabama over his comments about the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins said in a statement that a social media post by John McCall was inflammatory. He was suspended as head of the university's police department immediately, Hawkins said, and an investigation is underway. News outlets reported that McCall, in a Facebook post that was widely charged on social media, said Floyd "absolutely" helped cause his own death, although authorities in Minnesota have filed charges against four people in the killing. (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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