Volume 15 Number 10 | September 2023

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.

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Kevin Robinson
Kevin Robinson
Vice President
Institutional Compliance & Security

Articles Include

Information Security & Technology Events

Fraud & Ethics Related Events

Compliance / Regulatory & Legal Events

Campus Life & Safety Events

Other News of Interest

Last updated: 09/29/2023