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Business Officer Magazine

Big-Picture Thinking With Compliance, Athletics

In these sessions, attendees heard how to optimize capital assets, build human resources, manage risk, and anticipate new roles for auxiliaries.

Getting Ahead of the Curve

With increased scrutiny of risk management by significant stakeholders, an integrated risk and compliance model allows the University of Chicago to balance its programmatic plans with risk and get ahead of the curve. In a session titled "The Evolution of an Integrated Compliance, Risk, and Internal Audit Model," attendees heard how the University of Chicago has worked to foster an environment that sustains its institutionwide enterprise risk management (ERM) initiative and embeds ERM into strategic planning, key initiatives, and compliance management.

Presenters were Nim Chinniah, vice president for administration and CFO, and Glenn Klinksiek, assistant vice president for risk management and audit, from the University of Chicago; along with John Mattie and Frank Maggio of PricewaterhouseCoopers, which provides internal audit services to the institution.

This strategy depends on an institutionwide compliance committee, which in turn reports to the board of trustees' audit committee. The group reviews key risk areas in accordance with a plan that is coordinated with the university's internal audit function. The committee also reviews risk assessments, receives regular reports on certain areas of risk, and monitors and reports on open issues.

Each risk area has been assigned an "owner"—typically a dean or department head-who discusses the key types of risks related to that functional area, as well as mitigation strategies and their effectiveness with the committee. Follow-up actions are jointly agreed upon by the risk owners and the committee.

This structure has allowed the university to review five or six areas a year while permeating thinking about risk throughout the institutional culture. The speakers stressed the importance of using risk management strategies to focus on the positive—how to achieve the goals of the institution—rather than just looking at the potential downside of activities.

A Hands-On Approach to Athletics

"As CFO, you have to say no to a lot of things," noted Brian Gutierrez, vice chancellor of finance and administration, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth. In the session "Strengthening the Ties That Bind the Athletic Director and CBO," Gutierrez and director of intercollegiate athletics Christopher Del Conte explained key elements of relationship building that have allowed them to take the university's athletic program to a new level—while still adhering to financial constraints imposed by the business office.

  • Discuss important developments in person and in a timely fashion. "With big contracts and high-profile agreements," explained Del Conte, "you receive a lot of adulation and think you can do anything you want to. But, I've learned to discuss these things in advance-and in the larger context of the university."
  • Consider giving the athletic director a seat at the table. Del Conte is part of the chancellor's cabinet, which he said has been "a real eye-opener. With discussion around capital improvements, health-care issues, recruitment of high-level faculty, I no longer think that new revenues in the athletic department are solely for the department's use." Also, added Gutierrez, "When you're in that room for the chancellor's cabinet meeting, your job title doesn't matter. We only care about the opinions and advice of people with experiences that give insight into leadership and strategy."
  • Make training a part of the mix. Gutierrez admitted that despite their closer relationship and growing mutual respect, he and Del Conte had a ways to go in terms of improving Del Conte's understanding of the big picture. "We needed to look at the numbers together and stress their importance to the university's overall strategy—and review capital necessities in a macro view."

Over time, said Del Conte, "we've been able to become more interconnected." Added Gutierrez: "Reviewing the numbers helps us understand institutional capacity. It doesn't necessarily become a road map or solve specific challenges, but it begins important conversations."

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