“The mistakes of the past are valuable lessons for the future.”
-- Lailah Gifty Akita
When I first addressed the global pandemic in this publication in March, I never imagined that we would be approaching the end of the year with the same issues continuing throughout the world. It has been a year we could never have imagined when we began 2020 with the usual excitement of a new year.
As I thought about this pandemic, risk management, and the higher education industry, a couple of points came to mind. Here at AU, we have been very fortunate to have navigated this event extremely well due to excellent leadership. However, there are things we would probably do differently if we knew then what we know now. One suggestion I have for all institutions in higher education is to document the lessons we’ve learned for specific areas of operation as well as at an institutional level. We need to ensure we don’t lose the lessons learned through this crisis. Who knows? They may come in handy in a few years. I’d suggest documenting answers to the following kinds of questions:
- What did we do right in the pandemic?
- What did we do wrong in the pandemic?
- What do we wish we’d have done that we didn’t do?
Just a few thoughts you might consider to help your institution be better equipped to manage the next big thing. We again invite you to review the events in higher education over the past month with a view toward proactive risk management. As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions.
M. Kevin Robinson, CIA, CFE
Associate Vice President
Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy
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Information Security & Technology Events
Nov 24: Data Breach: Illinois Valley Community College has sent out more than 160,000 letters to current and former students, faculty and applicants warning them that their data may have been compromised in connection with a data breach back in April. Cheryl Roelfsema, IVCC's vice president for business services and finance, said that, as of now, the school is unaware of any incidents related to the data obtained from the breach. (link)
Fraud & Ethics Related Events
Nov 24: Wire Fraud: A former Purdue University professor and his wife, accused of funneling more that $1 million in National Science Foundation research money into a private company that served as a front to pay for their own personal expenses, were sentenced Monday to two years of probation and will have to pay a combined $1.6 million in restitution. The two were ordered jointly and severally liable to pay a total of $1.6 million in restitution, $1,351,996 of which goes to the National Science Foundation and $300,000 to the Indiana Economic Development Corp. (link)
Nov 20: Embezzlement: A former Chicago State University professor and interim dean is facing federal charges alleging she embezzled more than $650,000 from a student-based organization and used the funds for herself and her family. Carmita Coleman, 49, was charged Friday in the Northern District of Illinois court with four counts of wire fraud following a five-year scheme from 2011 to 2016 in which she allegedly took $651,272 from a national student organization that works to improve minority representation in the pharmacy industry. (link)
Nov 17: Embezzlement: Special agents from the State Auditor's Office arrested a 60-year-old former Northeast Mississippi Community College employee, charging her with embezzlement and asking her to pay nearly $70,000. Amy Haynie is accused of embezzling cash from one of the college's petty cash fund and from students as they paid various college-related fees. Haynie was able to manipulate the records of how cash was collected and deposited. The lack of internal controls allowed her to hide the scheme for nearly four years. (link)
Nov 16: Admissions Scandal/Bribery: A former Harvard University fencing coach and the chief executive of a telecommunications company were arrested on Monday on charges they engaged in a bribery scheme aimed at securing the admission of the businessman's two sons to the Ivy League school. Federal prosecutors in Boston said Jie "Jack" Zhao paid more than $1.5 million in bribes so that Peter Brand, the former coach, would help his sons get into Harvard by recruiting them to the men's fencing team. (link)
Nov 13: Foreign Funding Fraud: A medical researcher and professor who had been working most recently at Ohio State University pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge stemming from what prosecutors called a sophisticated scheme to transfer U.S.-backed research to China. Song Guo Zheng, 58, of suburban Hilliard, and his research groups secured more than $4.3 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health for projects while receiving overlapping funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China, according to a criminal complaint unsealed this year. (link)
Nov 11: Fraud: The head of a suburban Chicago biotechnology company swindled the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics out of more than $1.6 million for personal protective equipment it urgently needed last March as the coronavirus was beginning to unfold here, federal authorities say. The equipment, they said, was never delivered to the hospital. Instead, they allege, the man used money he had defrauded from the Iowa City hospital and another university hospital to buy two Maserati automobiles and a Land Rover sport-utility vehicle. (link)
Nov 03: Embezzlement: A former Unity College employee has pleaded guilty in federal court in Bangor to wire fraud, according to the United States Attorney's Office in Maine. Beth Bing, 49, of Waterville pleaded guilty Thursday to making unauthorized purchases on her Unity College credit card and using fraudulent telephone and email communications, according to court documents. Bing, who worked in finance for the college, racked up transactions totaling $516,834, according to federal prosecutors. From September 2015 through October 2019, Bing made "personal purchases and payments, both over the internet and in point-of-sale transactions," without the knowledge or approval of Unity College officials, according to court records. (link)
Compliance/Regulatory & Legal Events
Nov 30: Discrimination Lawsuit: It has been 18 months since researchers from the University of Southern California exposed "a palpable climate of anti-Blackness at Southwestern College" that included Black employees being called racial slurs and being overlooked for promotions. And even though the South Bay community college has taken significant steps to address the report's findings, a group of five current and former Black employees have filed a discrimination lawsuit, suggesting the problems persist. (link)
Nov 21: Public Records Lawsuit: This week, Brennan will face the next chapter in her fight against LSU. She's set to testify Monday afternoon in a court hearing over LSU's refusal to release full, unredacted police reports that she filed after her encounter with Guice. After Brennan and USA Today, which broke her story this week, filed a public records lawsuit against the university, LSU released some police reports this week. But the reports do not include Guice's name, and LSU has continued to redact names of suspects, witnesses and victims in police reports that it has released to the public. Brennan called the reports that LSU did release to her -- short on details, names blacked out -- "a slap in the face." (link)
Nov 20: NCAA Violations: A former University of Alabama associate athletics director violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when he received money in exchange for facilitating a meeting between the father of a student-athlete, a financial advisor and the financial advisor's representative, according to a decision released by the Division I Committee on Infractions. The violations were discovered as part of a broader scheme involving money and influence in college basketball. (link)
Nov 19: Sexual Misconduct: A Florida State University dean reprimanded a high-ranking chair within the College of Medicine after an investigation into sexual misconduct complaints by the school's Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance. In separate interviews with lead investigator Amber Wagner, an FSU human resources administrator, three women who worked at the college reported what they perceived to be unwelcome sexual advances from Dr. Leslie Beitsch, chair of Behavioral Sciences and Social Medicine at the College of Medicine. (link)
Nov 19: Allegation Damages Lawsuit: A McGill student who was accused of sexual assault is now suing the university, a student paper, two student organizations and his accuser, saying his life has been unfairly ruined. Declan McCool, 24, is seeking $1.5 million in damages. McCool had just been elected the vice-president of McGill's student society last February when he was told that another student had accused him of sexual assault. He wasn't told who the accuser was, he said, or given details of the accusation, but he was required to defend himself before a committee of four engineering students. (link)
Nov 18: Child Pornography: A McNeese State University faculty member is under arrest after an inappropriate image appeared in the background during an online class, according to university officials. Steven Stinnett, 48, was arrested late Tuesday on four counts of pornography involving juveniles. Stinnett was released at 8:20 a.m. Wednesday on $100,000 bond, set by Judge Sharon Wilson. Stinnett is a physics professor, according to his LinkedIn page. (link)
Nov 18: Murder Charge: A University of Notre Dame employee has been charged with murder. Nijinsky Dix, 37, is also a PhD student at the University of Illinois Chicago. She's accused of killing her ex-boyfriend in Washington, D.C. on Saturday. Police say she may have been stalking her ex following their three month relationship, which ended in May. According to the University, Dix is the director of the Talent Search Upward Bound program. They say they are aware of her arrest and will cooperate with law enforcement as appropriate. (link)
Nov 18: Sexual Harassment Settlement: The University of Michigan has reached a $9.25 million settlement with eight women who were sexually harassed by Martin Philbert, the former provost and chief academic officer at the school, the school and the women's lawyers confirmed. The names of the eight women were not released. The settlement did not include Philbert himself. The women could still file a lawsuit against him. (link)
Nov 18: Title IX Allegations: Current and former female student-athletes, angered by what they call mistreatment of sexual misconduct victims by Colorado State University's athletic department, are making their grievances public in a show of solidarity. They assert athletic administrators have repeatedly failed to notify the university's Title IX compliance office within 24 hours after a reported incident, as required by federal law and university protocol related to sex discrimination protections. (link)
Nov 17: Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Settlement: The prestigious University of California system has reached a proposed $73 million settlement with seven women who accused a former gynecologist of sexual abuse. As part of the class-action lawsuit, more than 6,600 patients of Dr. James Heaps could receive part of the settlement - even if they have not accused the former University of California, Los Angeles, gynecologist of abuse. (link)
Nov 16: Title IX: For more than a year, people at the highest levels of the Louisiana State University athletic department fielded complaints about their prized running back, Derrius Guice. Early in the spring 2016 semester, a member of the LSU diving team told her coach and an athletic department administrator that Guice raped her friend after she'd passed out drunk at a party. (link)
Nov 15: NCAA Compliance: When Turner Yates arrived at Missouri in the summer of 2015, so much seemed possible. Former Missouri head coach Sasha Schmid had personally recruited her, and Yates was excited for her future. But just a year later, Yates was transferring. She says that she was pressured to play through an ankle injury so severe that after her freshman year, she had to undergo reconstructive surgery. Dating back to at least 2015, former Missouri tennis players say team trainers mishandled injuries and coaches held practices that violated NCAA rules and created a culture that fostered a lack of trust. (link)
Nov 12: Race in Admissions: A US appeals court on Thursday upheld Harvard University's use of race in undergraduate admissions, rejecting a challenge by affirmative action opponents who said the elite Ivy League college's policy discriminates against Asian Americans. Opponents of the decision by the first US circuit court of appeals in Boston promised to appeal to the US supreme court, where legal experts believe the 6-3 conservative majority could use the case to end more than 40 years of allowing race as a factor in higher education admissions. (link)
Nov 11: Sexual Harassment: When Colorado State University student Lacey Mitchell met construction management assistant professor Ronald Holt, she remembers connecting with him over their shared love for artwork. "He was the first construction teacher I had," Mitchell said. "He taught Construction 150." In the fall of 2019, Mitchell was trying out for a beauty pageant. Though she had her headshots taken, she agreed to a photoshoot offered by Holt. (link)
Nov 11: Sexual Assault/Negligence Lawsuit: Lycoming College allegedly permitted an environment that allowed female students to be victimized in sexual assaults, according to a former student who filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. Middle District Court. The student, identified as Jane Doe, said that she was sexually assaulted by a men's basketball player in a dormitory two years ago. She has since transferred to another college claiming she felt unsafe at the liberal arts college. (link)
Nov 10: Stalking/Harassment: A UConn police officer was arrested Tuesday after he harassed, photographed and stalked two coworkers, a top prosecutor said. Peter J. Zavickas, 54, a 17-year veteran assigned to the university's Avery Point campus in Groton, was arrested and charged with two counts each of electronic stalking, second-degree stalking, third-degree computer crime and fifth-degree computer crime. Authorities accused Zavickas of stalking two public safety employees by tracking their movements through university surveillance videos and by following them in person on UConn's Storrs campus, according to a warrant for his arrest. (link)
Nov 05: Patterns in Sexual Abuse: Ohio State's Task Force on Sexual Abuse released a report Thursday identifying two principle themes that emerged in its work and analyzing patterns in chronic sexual abuse in higher education. The task force, which was assembled in fall 2019, reviewed public records of past sexual abuse cases in higher education nationwide, according to a university press release. Using those records, the task force was charged with discovering recurring patterns and identifying barriers to reporting incidents of misconduct, and identifying best practices to encourage reporting and for providing support for victims and survivors. (link)
Campus Life & Safety Events
Nov 30: Attempted Murder: A former Lehigh University student and chemistry major could face at least 20 years in prison after admitting that he laced his roommate's food and drink with a poisonous heavy metal. Yukai Yang pleaded guilty Monday to a single felony count of attempted murder after admitting he poisoned his roommate with the heavy metal, thallium. Yang acknowledged in court that he purchased the thallium used to poison his roommate. (link)
Nov 24: Hazing: The University of Iowa has suspended -- effectively deregistering -- its Acacia Fraternity for high-risk hazing and a long list of violations, like berating new members for "religious, political beliefs, or racial/ethnic identity," including during an initiation ceremony at the Masonic Temple of Iowa City. "All new members were berated and called demeaning and misogynistic names at various times during Initiation Week," according to a lengthy investigative report provided to The Gazette following a public records request. (link)
Nov 22: Greek Life: For years, SDSU has been plagued by dangerous and sometimes illegal behaviors within its clutch of fraternities and sororities. Now, one year after the tragedy, the scope of that misconduct is coming into focus. An investigation by the Union-Tribune revealed that in the five years leading up to the accident, Greek chapters were widely and repeatedly called to account for a slew of violations. They allowed underage students to drink alcohol, performed abusive hazing rituals, and were accused of sexual harassment and assault, according to confidential records obtained through the California Public Records Act. (link)
Nov 10: Vandalism: A man has admitted to spray-painting a racial slur on and otherwise damaging Iowa State University property in August. Nathan Page, 19, pleaded guilty Tuesday to criminal trespass and fourth-degree criminal mischief, both serious misdemeanors. Page was a freshman at Iowa State at the time of the crime. (link)
Nov 11: Abuse Allegations: Wichita State and Gregg Marshall are expected to part ways in the coming days, a source told CBS Sports, confirming a report from Stadium's Jeff Goodman on Tuesday night. The 57-year-old Marshall, who took Wichita State to the 2013 Final Four and is the winningest coach in school history (331-121), had been subject to a months-long investigation after allegations surfaced earlier this year regarding multiple verbal and physical incidents against former players and staff members. (link)
Nov 06: Sexual Assault: A former Susquehanna University student has been found guilty of two misdemeanor counts of indecently assaulting her roommate in Hassinger Hall the day after the May 2019 commencement. But, a Snyder County jury Thursday acquitted Pratigya Thakur, 21, of the Bronx, N.Y., of rape. She remains free on $10,000 bail pending sentencing. She is no longer a student at Susquehanna. (link)
Nov 05: Abuse Allegations: Midway through her freshman season at Oregon State, Kyla Waiters locked herself in the bathroom, and a concerned teacher's assistant called 911. "I just thought I didn't want to live anymore," Waiters said. Her decision a few months earlier to accept a scholarship to play volleyball for coach Mark Barnard's team had been seeded with promises and hope. Before a single semester had passed, all that was gone. (link)
Nov 02: Hazing: According to an affidavit signed by LSU Police, Terry Pat Reynolds II has been arrested for criminal hazing and failure to seek assistance after a Phi Kappa Psi pledge was put on life support after being hazed in Mid-October. Police say Reynolds then instructed the pledges to finish all the alcohol given to them and wouldn't let them leave until they had. Witnesses told police that Reynolds kept bringing out more alcohol, saying they hadn't finished the previous bottles fast enough. (link)
Nov 01: Campus Sit-in Against Violence: The Students for Survivors Coalition has decided to end their sit-in following the releasing of a statement this evening from Clemson University President Jim Clements acknowledging the issue of interpersonal violence on college campuses. The Students for Survivors Coalition originally began the sit-in on Oct. 21, demanding more resources for victims of interpersonal violence and sexual assault be made available to survivors on Clemson's campus. (link)
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