Case In Point: Lessons for the proactive manager
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Case In Point: Lessons for the proactive manager
Volume 15 Number 09 | September 2023
Quotable .....
“ Life is one big road with lots of signs ”

-- Bob Marley

In this month's Case in Point, I'd like to build upon my prior two columns dealing with culture and risk and introduce the importance of vision.

Two months ago, I wrote about the importance of developing a strong ethical culture on campus and shared these three take aways:

Ways to Ensure Strong Ethical Cultures

  1. Communicate it. If you desire your organization or department to operate in an ethical manner, have you ever verbalized that to your team? What are the expectations you have as a leader for your team? As George Bernard Shaw famously said, 'The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion it has taken place.' Never assume your team knows what you expect behaviorally.
  2. Live it. Communicating only works if leaders actually live out the ethical culture. People are paying considerably more attention to you and your actions than you likely realize. There is a powerful influence principle called ''social proof'' that says we look to the behavior of others to determine what is expected for our behavior. This becomes vitally important for leaders promoting ethics.
  3. Correct it. All organizations and people have an innate tendency to drift. Whether it's drifting off our exercise plan or other personal goals, drifting is just a part of life. It's also true with respect to culture and ethics. There will be times where something may not go perfectly, but the important thing is to practice ''radical honestly'' and deal with it head on. Ignoring issues will only create culture drift momentum that ultimately takes you to the edge of the cliff some of these institutions fell from.

Last month we discussed how to use this publication with this advice:

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.

This month I'd like to expand on these ideas and talk about the importance of vision. Vision is defined as ''the state of being able to see.'' With the number of risks facing higher education, it's more important than ever that the campus community develops strong vision. Vision in this context means clearly paying attention to what is happening on campus and then letting someone know when things are ''off'' or suspicious.

How might this vision translate into action in today's world? Here are three ways in which strong vision can help protect the institution:

  1. The vision to see students who are struggling with mental health issues. I've read the opinions of several professionals who believe our current freshman class is the most impacted by the pandemic based on the time it occurred during their high school experience. Regardless of the pandemic, there are always students struggling with various issues. Pay attention to those students and use clear vision to see where we might be able to intervene and direct them to campus resources. Who knows, a little clear vision from faculty and staff may well lead to the prevention of some tragedy.
  2. The vision to pay attention to suspicious emails and attachments. Some are phishing attempts and hope to cause harm to our systems and even take them over for ransom. Asking an IT professional about those items you are unsure about may take more time than you'd like, but it might well take less time and money than a bad mistake.
  3. The vision to notice business transactions that are not in the best interest of the institution or possibly even fraudulent. Like it or not, higher education is a victim of fraud often, and in many cases simply having clear vision and asking some questions could have prevented the issue.

Those are three diverse ways that developing clear vision can help us have a strong culture and become proactive in managing risk. The ways clear vision can help are endless, so as you review this month's happenings across higher education, do so with a goal to improve your vision on campus. As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions.

M. Kevin Robinson, CIA, CFE
Vice President
Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy
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Information Security & Technology Events

Sep 25: Data Breaches: National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit that provides enrollment and other services for thousands of colleges and universities across North America, is the latest organization breached by the MOVEit flaw. The organization put out a list of impacted institutions filled with nearly 900 schools. "The unauthorized party obtained certain files within the Clearinghouse's MOVEit environment, which may have included information from the student record database on current or former students," a statement from the National Student Clearinghouse said. ''We have no evidence that the affected files included the enrollment and degree files that organizations submit to the Clearinghouse for reporting requirements and for verifications.'' (link)

Sep 21: Data Breach: An Ohio community college is notifying 290,000 people of a data theft breach this spring that may have compromised their personal, financial and health information. In a breach notification Wednesday, Lakeland Community College did not provide any details on the attack, which occurred between March 7 and March 31, but the Vice Society ransomware group earlier this year had listed the college on its data leak website. ''This particular ransomware operation seemed to focus on the education sector - presumably because they found it to be a lucrative niche,'' said Brett Callow, a threat analyst at security firm Emsisoft. While the community college breach may be relatively small, the incident illustrates why small schools such as this are now favored targets of cybercriminals, according to security researchers. (link)

Sep 01: Data Breach: On August 25, 2023, Gaston College filed a notice of data breach with the Attorney General of Maine after discovering that an unauthorized party was able to access confidential information that was stored on Gaston College's IT network. In this notice, Gaston College explains that the incident resulted in an unauthorized party being able to access consumers' sensitive information, which includes their names and Social Security numbers. Upon completing its investigation, Gaston College began sending out data breach notification letters to all individuals whose information was affected by the recent data security incident. (link)

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Fraud & Ethics Related Events

Sep 12: Research Misconduct: Researchers formerly based at Weill Cornell Medical College, which is part of Cornell University, made up data in 12 published research studies, a federal agency has found. On Sept. 7, the US Office of Research Integrity (ORI) released two reports, one on a former professor of biochemistry at Weill Cornell, and one on a former professor of medicine at the same institution. Both reports said that the professors are guilty of reporting falsified or fabricated data in the 12 studies. The reports are based on investigations by Weill Cornell and additional analyses by the ORI. The ORI reports found that the professors reused Western blot images "from the same source and falsely relabeled to represent different proteins and/or experimental results." (link)

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Compliance/Regulatory & Legal Events

Sep 27: Title IX/Employee Conduct: Cal Poly's director of jazz studies left the university this spring after a student filed a sexual harassment complaint against him -- and it wasn't the first time the professor has moved from one college to another under accusations of improper behavior. The man, who was hired in August as an associate dean at his alma mater, Emporia State University in Kansas, is being investigated by Cal Poly's Civil Rights and Compliance Office under Title IX, according to Danna Dumandan, the student who filed the complaint against him. A decade ago, he also left his teaching position at the University of Missouri after at least two students there accused him of sexual harassment and assault. (link)

Sep 26: Title IX: On Monday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court's ruling, saying that the University of Arizona can be liable under Title IX for its "deliberate indifference" to sexual harassment cases, even if the harassment takes place off campus. Former UA student Mackenzie Brown filed suit against the university claiming that a former UA Wildcats running back abused her off campus. In the 95-page opinion, Judge William Fletcher said that a key consideration is whether the school has "disciplinary authority over the harasser in the setting where the harassment takes place," like off-campus field trips. Eight of the eleven judges sided with Brown. "If the harassment occurs in such a setting--that is, in a 'context' over which the institution has substantial control--the institution may be held liable for deliberate indifference under Title IX even though the harassment takes place off the physical property of the institution." (link)

Sep 22: Discrimination Lawsuit: Michele Perkins, who led New England College as president for 14 years before assuming the role of chancellor in 2022, is suing the school alleging gender discrimination and emotional distress after she was fired from her position earlier this year. Perkins alleges she was unexpectedly released by New England College, in Henniker, in April during an online meeting "in a humiliating and crude manner," according to her lawsuit. She alleges her firing was the culmination of a campaign of misogyny and a culture of gender bias among certain top officials at the school she led for more than a decade. "I was stunned to be dismissed on a Zoom call with other people on the call with no advance warning and no reason," Perkins told NHPR. "And so this lawsuit is the only way I know that current leadership can be held accountable for their actions." (link)

Sep 21: Employee Conduct: A college president, who wants his campus to become the business school "of choice for women," once exchanged hundreds of sexually suggestive messages with a student he taught at the prestigious Coast Guard Academy, prompting prosecutors to recommend charges against him in military court, according to confidential records obtained by CNN. Attorneys at the Coast Guard were so troubled by the captain's actions -- and by the fact that he continued to work with students -- that they recommended in early 2016 that he be charged with conduct unbecoming an officer even though he had retired from the service the prior year. Coast Guard leaders, however, quashed the case and never prosecuted the man, which allowed his career in private academia to flourish. (link)

Sep 21: Patent Settlement: Yale University and one of its professors have agreed to settle allegations that they wrongly withheld patent royalties from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs for ketamine-related inventions, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Thursday. Yale and professor agreed to pay $1.5 million to resolve the claims that they failed to pay the VA its share of royalties for patents covering intranasal ketamine used to treat depression, according to a statement from the Connecticut U.S. Attorney's Office. (link)

Sep 18: Sexual Assault Settlement: Baylor University has settled a years-long federal lawsuit brought by 15 women who alleged they were sexually assaulted at the nation's biggest Baptist school, ending the largest case brought in a wide-ranging scandal that led to the ouster of the university president and its football coach, and tainted the school's reputation. Notification of the settlement was filed in online court records Monday. The lawsuit was first filed in June 2016. The lawsuit was one of several that were filed that alleged staff and administrators ignored or stifled reports from women who said they were assaulted on or near campus. (link)

Sep 13: Employee Conduct: A professor and former track coach at Diablo Valley College in Contra Costa County is facing multiple felony charges, including human trafficking and sexual assault, prosecutors said. According to the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office, the 39-year-old man of Crockett was arrested on September 7 for allegedly trafficking two women for prostitution. The arrest came after one of victims notified campus authorities, prompting a joint investigation with the sheriff's office. Prosecutors said the man is facing two counts of human trafficking, two counts of pandering, one count of pimping and four counts of forcible sexual penetration by a foreign object. Diablo Valley College issued a statement that noted the man -- who is "a tenured communications faculty member and former coach" -- was placed on administrative leave. (link)

Sep 13: NCAA Compliance: A former UMass Lowell men's soccer head coach violated ethical conduct rules when he directed a student-athlete to pay him thousands of dollars from that student-athlete's scholarship funds, according to an agreement released by the Division I Committee on Infractions. The coach also provided impermissible benefits to three student-athletes, directed men's soccer student-athletes to exceed countable athletically related activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, and tampered with a prospective transfer who later enrolled at and competed for UMass Lowell. Finally, the former head coach again violated ethical conduct and cooperation rules when he failed to cooperate with an NCAA investigation. (link)

Sep 12: Civil Rights Investigation: The US Department of Education says it's investigating a complaint filed against New College of Florida alleging discrimination based on disability, according to a letter sent to the college's interim president. The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights said it plans to investigate "whether the College, on the basis of disability, excluded qualified persons with disabilities from participation in, denied them the benefits of, or otherwise subjected them to discrimination in its programs, activities, aids, benefits, or services," attorney David Kutch with the Office of Civil Rights, wrote. The details of the complaint regarding the disability discrimination are not known and the Department of Education said it will not comment. (link)

Sep 11: Title IX: Two years ago, one of the nation's star college football coaches and a prominent rape survivor teamed up to fight the culture of sexual violence in sports. Their partnership should have been a force for good. Instead, it has devolved into scandal, with the activist accusing the coach of the same misconduct that both of them preached against. The accused is the head football coach at Michigan State University and one of the highest paid coaches in all of sports. Accusing him is Brenda Tracy, a rape survivor who has made educating athletes about sexual violence her life's work. Over eight months, they developed a professional relationship centered on her advocacy work. But their relationship was upended during a phone call on April 28, 2022, Tracy says in a complaint she filed with the university's Title IX office in December that remains under investigation. (link)

Sep 07: Admissions Lawsuit: Students for Fair Admissions dropped its lawsuit challenging Yale University's race-conscious admissions policies after the Supreme Court gutted the practice in June. The anti-affirmative action group and the Ivy League school voluntarily agreed to drop the case after Yale agreed to make several updates to its admissions process ahead of the fall 2023 undergraduate admissions season. The lawsuit against Yale was similar to the one against Harvard and UNC, but stemmed from a Trump administration challenge that SFFA fought to keep alive in the courts. The Trump administration filed the lawsuit in October 2020 following a two-year investigation into the Ivy League institution's admissions practices. (link)

Sep 06: Rent Lawsuit: Webster University is facing allegations that it has not paid rent at its downtown St. Louis campus, adding to the private institution's growing financial troubles. The owners of the Arcade Building at Eighth and Olive streets allege in a lawsuit filed in federal court in St. Louis on Friday that Webster owes more than $75,000 in interest, past rent and late fees after failing to pay the full amount owed from January through August of this year. The downtown location is in addition to the school's main campus in Webster Groves in St. Louis County. (link)

Sep 01: Employee Conduct: A tenured professor and former Federal Trade Commission member recently resigned from George Mason University's law school, more than a year and a half after a former student accused him of sexual harassment. The former student, Elyse Dorsey, alleged in a 2021 complaint to the university that the professor solicited a sexual relationship with her in 2010 while he was a professor at the law school and she was his research assistant. Another former Mason law student, Angela Landry, has told The Washington Post a similar account of feeling pressured to have sex with the professor. The two women have gone public with these accounts in recent weeks in interviews with multiple news outlets, including The Post, alleging that he abused his power over them. (link)

Sep 01: Employee Conduct: The geography professor didn't hide his clown fetish or the fact that he sometimes indulged his urges by recruiting students as subjects. He posted regularly about it on social media. "I have a facepaint fetish and convince the cute girls in my classes to let me paint their faces," he once wrote. Yet the professor held jobs at two colleges and was on the tenure track at a third before student journalists at Nicholls State University in Louisiana exposed his behavior. He submitted his resignation the same day their story was published. His career trajectory exposes inadequacies in the background check system that colleges and universities are supposed to have in place to protect students -- especially when evidence of the concerning behavior resides largely on the internet. (link)

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Campus Life & Safety Events

Sep 29: Hazing: Million-dollar lawsuits, "toxic" cultures facilitating harassment and sexual abuse and college sport programs suspended. The dan­gerous -- and sometimes deadly -- consequences of hazing are prevalent at US universities, placing their sports programs in particular under growing scrutiny. Athletic programs at Boston College, New Mexico State University and Northwestern University are just three US institutions that have been dealing with hazing allegations in 2023. As calls for a change in culture among the student athlete community grow louder, here's what you need to know about hazing and its troubling relationship with colleges in the US. (link)

Sep 25: Robberies: From the University of Illinois Chicago to DePaul University and Loyola University, Chicago has recently seen an uptick in armed robberies on or near college campuses at all different times of the day. On Saturday, Loyola University Campus Police sent out an alert, advising that three students were robbed outside Marquette Hall before 4 a.m. Over on the city's North Side, at least four robberies were reported on the campus of DePaul University between Sept. 9 and Sunday. The universities have taken various actions in response to the recent incidents. (link)

Sep 24: Hazing: A student and his parents have filed a lawsuit against a University of Alabama fraternity, saying he suffered a traumatic brain injury while being hazed as a fraternity pledge earlier this year. The lawsuit filed last week accuses Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and others associated with it of fraud, negligence and assault and battery. The lawsuit was filed by the teen, referred to only as H.B. in the filing because he is a minor; and his parents, who live in Texas. The lawsuit says H.B. was repeatedly punched, sprayed with a water hose, told to yell a racial slur at a nearby Black student and hit in the head with a basketball, which caused him to lose consciousness, see stars and suffer a traumatic brain injury. (link)

Sep 20: Hazing: Boston College said on Wednesday that it had suspended its swimming and diving program indefinitely after university officials learned about hazing within the teams. The university did not disclose details about the hazing, when it took place or how extensive it was. "The university does not -- and will not --tolerate hazing in any form," Boston College said in a brief statement on Wednesday announcing the suspension of both the men's and women's teams. It added that the teams' student-athletes would still "have access to academic and medical resources provided to all Boston College student-athletes." (link)

Sep 13: Campus Threat: Local police cleared students, faculty and others at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to "resume normal activities" more than an hour after the school community was under lockdown over a warning of an "armed and dangerous person." It's the second time that the school has been under a lockdown under a similar threat since the start of the semester. University officials canceled classes for the rest of the day following the lockdown, said UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz during a news conference on Wednesday afternoon. Brian James, chief of police at UNC Chapel Hill, said that witnesses described the suspect brandishing a gun at a bagel shop called Alpine Bagel in the campus's Student Union, over an employment-related conflict. (link)

Sep 07: Building Safety: Professors emptying out their offices and classrooms, hallways lined with moving boxes and carts, students and staff given just a days notice to get out. It's the unexpected evacuation of Davies Hall at American River College in Sacramento County due to concerns over earthquakes. "There could be catastrophic failure in this building," said Lisa Cardoza, ARC's president. Cardoza says Davies Hall was built in 1967 and a recent structural survey shows it does not meet current state seismic safety standards. Its "lift slab" architectural design could crumble if there was an earthquake. "With the information that we had, any event could potentially bring this building down and we just couldn't take that risk," Cardoza said. (link)

Sep 05: Accident: A pier just off the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus that was crowded with 60 to 80 people collapsed Monday afternoon, causing minor injuries to about two dozen people, police said. The pier, located near the Memorial Union Terrace on Lake Mendota, is owned by the university and was scheduled to be removed for the season on Tuesday, said Officer Jeff Kirchman, of the UW-Madison Police Department, which responded. Kirchman said he didn't have any information as to whether the pier was over capacity. In a statement, UW officials said an investigation will be conducted into the collapse. (link)

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If you have any suggestions, questions or feedback, please e-mail Kevin Robinson at or Robert Gottesman at 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.

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