2/15/2016: In Around the O, here.
11/2/2015: UO’s Chief Auditor Brenda Muirhead leaves UO after 18 months
This is really bad news for trust and transparency at UO. Muirhead was a professional with an impeccable record. Her job was to set up procedures to enhance UO’s minimal internal controls and conduct internal audits. For example, her office confirmed that UO had never done an open affirmative action compatible search for $130K VP for Collaboration Chuck Triplett. They are currently conducting a regularly scheduled audit of the athletics department, etc.
In the corporate world, the resignation of an auditor (external) is the best single predictor of internal control deficiencies, because auditors compare the revenue they earn with the reputational costs of being associated with a company with problems, and they bail when that equation becomes negative. See for example Ashbaugh-Skaife et al (2007) at https://tippie.uiowa.edu/accounting/phd/publications/collins_discovery.pdf.
I heard the rumor Muirhead had left today. Her linkedin page says she left in October. She is already gone from the UO Directory. Here’s VPFA Jamie Moffitt’s proud announcement of her hiring, just 18 months ago:
Dear Colleagues –
I am pleased to announce that Ms. Brenda Muirhead has accepted my offer to serve as the University of Oregon’s new Chief Auditor. She will create and direct the university’s independent audit program and coordinate a broad range of audit functions in support of the needs of the university. We anticipate Brenda will begin her new position on May 19, 2014, pending review and approval of all necessary paperwork.
Brenda currently serves as Audit Manager at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, a research and teaching institution of 28,000 students and 2,600 faculty on five campuses. Before coming to the KU, she served as Senior Auditor for the Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit, in Topeka. This background has enabled her to become a versatile and effective leader with an excellent understanding of audit operations and internal controls.
We are in the midst of a very exciting and dynamic period in this University’s history. I am excited to have Brenda join our team, and am confident she will apply her experience and skills to help us further the mission of our university and to embrace the changing needs of our institution. Please join me in welcoming Brenda to campus.
Vice President for Finance & Administration & CFO
University of Oregon
And here’s the UO Board of Trustees motion giving her power, passed just 5 months ago:
6/5/2015: One giant leap for transparency, as UO’s auditor Brenda Muirhead takes charge
I’m assuming that the Audit Committee sent this forward to the full Board Wednesday, and that they approved it Thursday:
This is great news. UO has a professional auditor, Brenda Muirhead, and now she has the power and responsibility to investigate all of UO and report back the the Board. Those reports will be public records, presumably posted on the web as the Oregon SOS audits division does. More transparency, more trust, and one small step towards removing the need for this blog.
And those audits will be public eventually, right? Because there’s nothing posted yet:
It’s a shame they paid someone to do a job they never let them do. Word in Johnson Hall is that Jamie Moffitt was pissed she didn’t have authority to tell the auditor what to say, so she had her Doe’d/Cleavenger’ed/Morlock’ed/Fox’ed. Moffitt has been internally campaigning against the Ombuds and the Auditor, probably she’s worried what they might find out…
I know Muirhead was very frustrated by the obstruction and general lack of cooperation she had to contend with every day. It’s worse than merely not letting her do her job–they pretty much hung her out to dry whenever she tried to do her job. I wonder where Schill is on this one.
I think part of it was on purpose but a big portion of the troubles she probably faced were just symptoms of how messed up everything we do at the UO really is. This place is an auditors nightmare.
There was a reason that Ms. Muirhead’s reporting line was changed from the VPFA to a dual Board/President reporting line.
Now that she’s gone, who is going to see all of the reporting to the Auditor that were supposed to be confidential? Better watch your backs!
Surely you are not suggesting that JH would retaliate?
The report also does not mention that she is our only auditor at the UO. The entire office is gone except for the new Cheif Auditor. OSU seems to be doing a bit better supporting their internal audit department.
What? The other assistant auditor left too?
Correct. They also had an executive assistant that left a few months after Brenda. At this point I think we can call the implementation of our internal audit a failure. Running off 3/4 of that office is quite concerning.
If anyone knows more about this please let me know. The Trustees Audit Committee meets in 2 weeks, I imagine they are quite concerned.