Nota Bene Episode 45: Crisis Averted: Lessons Learned from the College Admissions Scandal with Joseph Jay


In what is being called the largest admissions scams in U.S. history, referred to as the Varsity Blues Scandal, at least 50 people, including celebrities, were charged with felonies. The scandal shook the American people’s beliefs in the integrity of higher education institutions.  

Michael's guest today, Joseph Jay, author of Bloomberg Law article titled, “I Helped Investigate 18 Years of Paper Classes at UNC – Lessons for the Admissions Scandal,” joins him to highlight lessons learned from his work on the University of North Carolina paper class scandal. They explore the takeaways from these scandals and what C-Suite members can learn from how colleges and universities responded to the scandals.

Joseph Jay is a partner in the Government Contracts, Investigations & International Trade Practice Group in Sheppard Mullin’s Washington, D.C. office. Joe's practice encompasses a broad array white collar defense, corporate investigations, and international trade matters. His matters include defense of civil and criminal enforcement actions and investigations, compliance counseling and regulatory advice.

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What We Discuss in This Episode:

What led Joe to write the Bloomberg Law about the admissions scandal?

What was the Varsity Blues Scandal?

What is the first step in responding to a scandal like the one in higher education?

How does an organization remain calm and not get caught up in the media frenzy that often follows high profile scandals?

What is a “holding statement” in a time of crisis?

After pressing pause on the surrounding chaos by issuing a holding statement, what is the next step in assessing the problem?

Since universities tend to be more public than private organizations, what differences exist between how the two institutions handle crises?

Are university leaders being disingenuous when they say they want to “get to the bottom” of the problem?

What’s the best way to rebuild trust with stakeholders?

What is the impact of universities and their behavior in our societies?

Are universities so focused on securing student dollars that they are abandoning their missions?

What is the one thing that gets organizations in trouble the most when addressing a crisis?

Resources Mentioned:

Joseph’s Bloomberg Law’s article.

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