Building a ‘risk-aware’ culture at Harvard

2 min read

“What keeps you up at night?”

That was the question posed by Katie Lapp, executive vice president of Harvard, at the University’s inaugural Institutional Risk Management (IRM) Symposium on Tuesday, June 17, 2014.

The symposium, sponsored by Harvard’s Office of Risk Management & Audit Services (RMAS), was part education, part strategy session, part therapy session for attendees from across the University who are tasked with identifying and mitigating risk for their respective Schools and units.

And those risks are numerous. Lapp noted the breadth of the attendees’ experience in her opening remarks. Deans, administrative personnel, and IT staff were among those who came to discuss threats ranging from financial and academic fraud to campus safety and IT security.

“We are a large research university,” said Lapp in her opening remarks. “We have complicated facilities, we are the subject of cyber-attacks on a regular basis, and when you think about it, we invite thousands of students to come on our campus every day, whether they reside here or not. We need to make sure that Harvard is a safe place, that it is a vibrant place, and people feel they can do their best work here in a safe environment.”

The focus on risk management at universities has grown over the last several years, propelled by increased regulation and litigation, narrowing financial margins, increased global threats, and issues of national security.