For want of a nail

According to a Wall Street Journal article (see Penn
State Warned On Accreditation at
), “Pennsylvania State University’s accreditation is “in
jeopardy,” one of the nation’s primary accrediting groups warned the
school, in the latest fallout from the Jerry Sandusky child-sex-abuse scandal.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the
WSJ reported, “said there was ‘insufficient evidence’ that Penn State was
complying with standards related to governance and integrity, as well as
meeting financial obligations. “

Should a risk management practitioner have seen this
coming? Or is the threat just another “black swan” that no one could
have anticipated?

Does the university even HAVE a risk management
program; I’m not asking about business continuity or disaster recovery, I’m
talking about comprehensive, enterprise risk management.

Sex scandals – and the Jerry Sandusky issue is very
much a “sex scandal” – are nothing new; just ask the Roman Catholic
church. Likewise, penalties in the millions of dollars are not new.

Somewhere the school’s policies and procedures had a
loophole that apparently allowed Sandusky’s alleged crimes to go unreported to
the proper authorities. Had an experienced risk manager been privy to the
school’s P&Ps, the loophole might have been discovered and eliminated. Had
it been eliminated, most of the scandal also would have been avoided.

Once the scandal broke, an experienced risk manager –
working with university legal, PR, and administration personnel, might have
been able to mitigate some of the publicity and legal attacks.

Ellen Chaffee, a senior fellow with the Association of
Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, told the WSJ that “the
chances of Penn State losing its accreditation are ‘extremely remote.'” 

For all that, the school’s reputation has been hurt,
it’s sports programs have been  severely
damaged, and its coffers raided.

For want of a nail.

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