Forensic Accounting Competition to take on Koss headphones scandal
It was a white collar crime so spectacular, it made headlines for months, captivated accountants around the nation and begged the question: How in the world could this happen?
How could a company's vice president of finance embezzle $34 million over a five-year period? Those questions continue to surround the infamous Milwaukee-based Koss headphones scandal, which included a high-profile arrest, a plea bargain and multiple lawsuits in 2010.
On Monday at Lakeland College, high school students from 17 schools, along with two FBI agents who worked the Koss case, will visit campus for the second annual Lakeland College Forensic Accounting Competition. Teams of students from each school were given information on the Koss case in advance, and on Monday they will present to a panel of judges their findings about what went wrong and how this crime could have been prevented.
Schools participating are Chilton, D.C. Everest, Edgerton, Franklin, Greendale, Kohler, Lake Mills, Manitowoc Lincoln, McFarland, Menomonee Falls, Middleton, Milton, Monroe, Oconto, Oregon, Plymouth and Port Washington.
"This is a great way for high school accounting teachers to show their students that there's a really exciting part of the accounting world out there, and that accounting isn't just about debits and credits," said Bob Martin, Lakeland's adjunct instructor of accounting and event organizer. "The Koss case is such a great case, such an interesting case."
The Lakeland event, which has grown from 12 participating schools last year to 17 this year, will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with presentations and breakout sessions throughout the day. The top four teams will be announced in the afternoon, with an awards ceremony capping off the day.
Highlighting the event will be a presentation by FBI agents Jennifer Walkowski and Julie Andreoni, who will discuss the investigation that led to the arrest and eventual incarceration of Sujata Sachdeva, the former Koss vice president of finance who was fired and initially charged by federal agents of embezzling $4.5 million. As the mountain of evidence against her grew, she was indicted by a federal grand jury of defrauding $31 million.
Eventually, in July 2010, Sachdeva reached an agreement and pleaded guilty to embezzling $34 million. She was sentenced to 11 years at Dublin Federal Prison in California, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Sachdeva's embezzlement had a wide-reaching effect on Koss and rippled through the accounting, law-enforcement and regulatory agency communities. In addition to the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service was involved and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also charged Sachdeva with fraud and misconduct.
As details of the crime began to emerge in 2009, Koss fired and later sued its auditor, Grant Thornton LLP. Later, Koss also filed suit against American Express, Sachdeva's card of choice when she went on extravagant shopping sprees. Koss, meanwhile, was sued by shareholders.
Lakeland strengthens commitment to study abroad program
Lakeland College Joins Institute of International Education Coalition to Double Number of Students Who Study Abroad by End of Decade
Lakeland College has committed to doubling the number of its undergraduate students who study abroad over the next five years. The college made the pledge when it joined the Institute of International Education (IIE)'s Generation Study Abroad initiative to double the number of American students who study abroad by the end of the decade.
Leading up to IIE's centennial celebration in 2019, Generation Study Abroad will engage educators at all levels and stakeholders in the public and private sectors to drive meaningful, innovative action to increase the number of U.S. students who have the opportunity to gain international experience through academic study abroad programs, as well as internships, service learning and non-credit educational experiences.
Lakeland is among the lead partners who have committed to specific, measureable actions that will help reach this ambitious goal; the result will be thousands more American students graduating with the international experience necessary for success in a globalized world.
Building on its nearly 100-year commitment to study abroad, IIE has committed $2 million of its own funds to this initiative over the next five years. Lakeland will create a scholarship fund for study abroad, seek out new relationships with international institutions and develop an internship program at the college's Tokyo campus.
"Lakeland recognizes that, regardless of your career path, a study abroad, intern abroad or other international exchange experience will better prepare you for the global economy," said Jen Siebert, director of international programs. "The college is committed to providing our students with ways to diversify their resumes and make them stand out to future employers by encouraging study abroad."
Tiffany Miller, a senior from Mason, Wis., majoring in German, studied at Lakeland College Japan in spring 2011 and at the University of Kassel in Germany in spring 2012.
"Studying abroad has helped me gain more independence and confidence in myself and my goals," Miller said. "It has really changed my perspective on life in general, as well. I would encourage any undergraduate student to strongly consider a study abroad experience."
Over the past few years, more than 80 Lakeland students have gone abroad to more than seven countries. Lakeland offers both semester-long study abroad opportunities as well as short-term, faculty-led courses conducted during the college's three-week May Term.
In addition to its two-year campus in Tokyo, Lakeland has sister schools in China, Korea, Germany, Luxembourg and Colombia that provide study abroad prospects. Recent connections with study abroad organizations such as CEA and AIFS will provide Lakeland students with a more varied pool of locations around the globe for study abroad.
Lakeland is one of more than 150 higher education institutions from 41 U.S. states that have signed the Generation Study Abroad Commitment, including large state and private universities, liberal arts colleges, community colleges and historically black colleges and universities and other minority serving institutions.
The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and several foreign governments, as well as key higher education associations and study abroad provider organizations, have also pledged to support the goals of the initiative. Recognizing the importance of an internationally focused workforce, IIE is also actively seeking the participation of corporations and the business community.
"Globalization has changed the way the world works, and employers are increasingly looking for workers who have international skills and expertise," says Dr. Allan Goodman, President of IIE. "Studying abroad must be viewed as an essential component of a college degree and critical to preparing future leaders."
IIE is launching Generation Study Abroad because it believes the number and proportion of today's students who graduate with an educational experience abroad is far too low. Currently, fewer than 10 percent of all U.S. college students study abroad at some point in their academic career.
According to the Open Doors Report on International and Educational Exchange released by IIE last November, 295,000 students studied abroad in 2011/12 in credit-bearing and non-credit programs. Generation Study Abroad aims to grow participation in study abroad so that the annual total reported will reach 600,000 by the end of the decade.
With 2.6 million students graduating with associates or baccalaureate degrees each year, IIE believes it is clear that major segments of America's young people are not getting the international experience they will need to advance their careers and participate in the global economy, or to work together across borders to address global issues.
For more information on IIE's Generation Study Abroad initiative, and a complete list of commitment partners, go to: iie.org/generationstudyabroad.
Grads return for Business Colloquium
Five successful Lakeland College graduates returned to campus in late February for the school's day-long "Business Colloquium" event.
Caitlin Brotz, Admira Ibisevic, Luke Pfeifer, Jill Wagner and Karl Ulrich spoke to Lakeland's business students and visiting high school prospects, sharing sage advice and passionately promoting their alma mater. The Lakeland grads then appeared individually in classes for special presentations.
Brotz, a 2005 graduate with a degree in business administration, is the founder and owner of Sheboygan's Olivu 426 – a manufacturer and distributor of natural cosmetics and beauty products.
Ibisevic, a 2009 grad with a double major (business administration and marketing), has ascended quickly at energy management company Orion Energy Systems. She is currently the director of internal operations at the Manitowoc-based company.
Pfeifer, a 2003 resort management grad, works in Seattle for Agilysys, which produces logistical software for hotels and resorts around the world.
Wagner, who earned her bachelor's degree in 1992 and her MBA from Lakeland in 2005, was recently promoted to president of Appleton-based Integrity Insurance.
And Ulrich, who graduated with a degree in German and history before advancing to law school at Notre Dame, is a partner and shareholder at the law firm of Sebaly Shillito + Dyer in Dayton, Ohio.
The five guests began their day speaking to small groups of potential Lakeland College students who were visiting for the day. Then, the graduates sat at a table in front of all Lakeland College business students and answered questions presented by longtime Lakeland Professor of Business Administration J. Garland Schilcutt.
The visitors wrapped up their day by guest lecturing in five different classrooms.
Mercury Marine's Duke lectures Lakeland marketing class
Marketing decisions are based on metrics more than ever before, said Mercury Marine Vice President of Marketing Ben Duke, during a guest lecture at a Lakeland College senior-level marketing management class on Wednesday afternoon.
"Marketing has traditionally come from a gut feeling approach," said Duke, who earned both his bachelor's and MBA from Lakeland's evening, weekend and online program. "But now, it's almost entirely data driven."
Mercury Marine, a world leader in the production and sale of marine engines, boats and parts for recreational, commercial and government marine applications, is based in Fond du Lac.
Duke was joined by Mercury Director of Public Relations Lee Gordon, who spoke to the Lakeland College students about the pros and cons of social media.
Social media plays a significant role in Mercury's marketing strategy, Duke said, pointing out that Facebook, for example, fits the company's demographic exceptionally well.
Through in-house and contracted platform analytics, Mercury Marine can make intelligent decisions on how to best market and publicize the $2.2 billion company and its products.
Additionally, Mercury can evaluate how its 30 million annual visitors are browsing the company's website. "What are they looking for?" Duke asked rhetorically.
"Marketing, from where it was five years ago, is very different now," Duke said. "We're being measured constantly, and that can be uncomfortable. Now, you have to have good data to support your decisions."
While social media and other web-based marketing is big at Mercury, the company also participates in the traditional marketing arena, with a strong presence at boat shows and "Experience Events" – in which people are taken out on boats with Mercury engines.
Gordon's primary message to the students was to make careful decisions when it comes to their use of social media. He stressed that poor judgment in regards to Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Instagram and other forms of "new media" can be devastating to a job applicant.
"Your resume is the best of you," Gordon said. "But now, with social media, we get to see who you really are."
Author, journalist to deliver Lakeland’s 152nd Commencement address
Jeffrey Selingo, an author, columnist, and speaker who has spent his journalism career covering colleges and universities worldwide, will serve as Lakeland College's 2014 commencement speaker.
Selingo is the author of "College (Un)Bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students," which explores the college of tomorrow – how families will pay, what campuses will look like, how students will learn and what skills will lead to success in the job market.
Selingo is a contributing editor to The Chronicle of Higher Education and professor of practice at Arizona State University. His work focuses on the innovative practices of colleges and universities and what they might mean for students in the future.
He is the former top editor of The Chronicle, where he worked for 16 years in a variety of reporting and editing roles. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The Huffington Post, and he is a contributor to the LinkedIn Influencer program, where you can follow his blog posts on higher education.
Selingo's work has been honored with awards from the Education Writers Association, Society of Professional Journalists and the Associated Press. He has been the keynote speaker before dozens of associations and universities and appears regularly on regional and national radio and television programs, including NPR, ABC and CBS.
He received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ithaca College and a master's degree in government from the Johns Hopkins University.
Learn more about Selingo and his work online at http://www.jeffselingo.com/.