Faculty Senate addresses IRS fraud
Published: Monday, February 18, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 18, 2013 17:02
Vice Chancellor for Finance Len Frey addressed the Faculty Senate at their Friday meeting, regarding the recent news of IRS Tax fraud involving ASU Faculty.
To date, 30 faculty members are known to have been affected by the information breech, according to Len Frey, vice chancellor for finance.
“We are trying to narrow down and determine where it is the breach of security occurred,” Frey said. “The likelihood of identifying it grows each day, but we may never know.”
Frey had a realistic message to share with senate members. “The bigger picture is, we live in the 21st century, we are all at risk,” he said. “In reality, the only thing [the hackers] needed were Social Security numbers.”
On Tuesday and Wednesday, emails were sent out to the faculty encouraging them to visit the IRS website to check that their returns had not been compromised. “A lot of people have checked, and their returns are not fraudulent,” Frey said. “But as a blanket statement, I would say everyone should check.”
The finance department was originally informed of this crisis when campus employees reported IRS letters explaining their returns had been flagged for potential problems. “But just because you don’t have the letter yet doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened,” Frey cautioned.
Frey expects a meeting to be scheduled next week for all faculty who have been affected or are concerned about this crisis.
The new A-State website, launched in January, has been met with some mixed feelings among students and faculty. According to Todd Clark, of the university’s marketing and communications department, IT services is still working to correct and further improve upon those changes, according to Todd Clark of university marketing and communications.
“The goal was to enhance the way we do things online,’ Clark said. “We’ve taken some major strides on tackling the problems people are having on sites, and we are working every day to improve those issues.”
Clark emphasized the website change was not an instantaneous, one-time adjustment. “This isn’t a project we can flip the switch and walk away from,” he said. “There is a full set of changes to be implemented over the next 18 months.”
Clark also stated that the website’s designers still have at least three major projects left on the agenda. The first is working on a revised structure for degree information, which would allow prospective students to view all information relative to their field of study out of one single-source database. This would eliminate discrepancies in the vast number of forms and checklists which were available on the previous website, Clark said.
The second priority, beginning March 1, would be to implement a scrolling set of pictures and videos on the website’s homepage. Clark believes this will also appeal to prospective students, by showing them a more personal side of ASU they might not get from raw factual information.
The website workers hope to build a database of faculty and staff information that would allow the website to build the requested page on the fly, Clark said. “These could also cross over onto the app, and digital sciences. We’ll be ready to start importing data Feb. 25.”
The potential for establishing the ASU-Querétaro was also discussed, presented by Yvonne Unnold, chair and associate professor of languages. ASU-Q, as the project has come to be called, would eventually establish an autonomous branch of ASU in central Mexico.
“The motion has been approved by the board, and we are beginning work in that direction,” Unnold said.
Proponents of ASU-Q are expecting students not only from Mexico, but all nationalities, similar to the range of students attending in Jonesboro. “We anticipate a very international student body,” Unnold said. “It would have the same admission requirements as ASU, and predominantly be an English-speaking campus.”
The campus would be the first American campus as well as the first residential American campus in that area, according to Unnold.
“The students would be earning a U.S. degree, in addition to one recognized by Mexico,” Unnold said.
In response to questions raised concerning student and faculty safety in a region often thought of as unstable or violent, Unnold gave the ultimate stamp of approval.
“I would not have any reservations about sending my own children to Querétaro,” she said.