Photo of A. Joseph Jay III

Joseph Jay is a white collar defense and government investigations partner in the firm's Washington, D.C. office.

I was sitting in my office last week thumbing through the latest issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education – the diary of news in the academe – and it hit me that story after story touched on what my colleagues and I call “organizational integrity.” Universities should increasingly focus on their integrity – their values, their culture, their own sense of right and wrong – as the bedrock of their organizational decision-making, risk management, and compliance. And, when their reputations are threatened,  universities should try to ground their response in those same values.
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Synopsis

The academic scandal that rocked the University of North Carolina from 2011 to 2014 epitomizes the need for decisive action to respond to circumstances that threaten an organization’s integrity. Failing to respond – or delaying such a response – can threaten an organization’s reputation for candor and transparency. Organizations must not react reflexively in these situations; rather, organizations must react in a way that bolsters or restores its integrity. And, where appropriate, organizations must accept responsibility, adopt and implement meaningful reforms, and transparently report what happened.
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