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Northwestern Names First Chief Compliance Officer

Marcia Isaacson to join Northwestern Sept. 1 as associate vice president for compliance

  • Will optimize compliance across University’s campuses and research enterprise
  • Position reports to senior leadership and Northwestern’s Board of Trustees
  • Isaacson has learned that ‘optimal compliance requires communication and coordination’
  • Goal is to assure education research, service missions are conducted with integrity 

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Marcia R. Isaacson, a lawyer who in recent years has been a leader in overseeing compliance activities in higher education, has been named Northwestern University’s first associate vice president for compliance and chief compliance officer.

Isaacson, who will join Northwestern Sept. 1, is chief compliance officer and senior associate general counsel at the City University of New York (CUNY). She has experience working at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and in legal practice as well as in higher education compliance.

Isaacson will report to Northwestern Provost Daniel Linzer and Executive Vice President Nim Chinniah. She also will meet regularly with the audit, risk and compliance committee of the Northwestern University Board of Trustees.

“Marcia Isaacson and her team will provide senior leadership with a comprehensive view of the University’s compliance activities,” Linzer said.

The University already is committed to full compliance with applicable laws, regulations and policies -- to providing a safe, efficient and effective environment that allows Northwestern as well as all members of its community to thrive, Linzer noted.

“The new position was created to ensure that Northwestern coordinates and optimizes compliance activities across the University’s three campuses and large research enterprise,” he stressed. “We feel confident that Marcia and her team will enhance and reinforce an environment where everyone understands his or her responsibility for ensuring compliance on a daily basis.”

“I am delighted to welcome Marcia Isaacson as our inaugural chief compliance officer,” Chinniah said. “She has the right blend of skills, experiences and research university context to be highly effective in this role.”

The goal is to ensure that the University’s education, research and service missions are conducted with integrity and in accordance with the law.

“To effectively comply with many of the regulations that affect higher education, people in different departments often need to work together and share information,” Isaacson said. “I’ve learned that a lot of problems can be avoided through better coordination and, of course, better communication. Most of all, I have learned that the only way to move forward is to bring together persons from different disciplines and campuses to share their perspectives.”

Isaacson said she is honored “to have the chance to work with the many talented people and offices dedicated to compliance at Northwestern. Together we can maximize opportunities for identifying potential areas of risk and responding to warning signals.”

Isaacson will lead the University’s compliance committee and create a core compliance leadership group to share information about potential risks.

In her current position, Isaacson has collaborated effectively with stakeholders across the CUNY system to address areas of risk. She works directly with compliance and risk officials, internal auditors and other administrators to identify and prioritize legal obligations and develop efficient methods for addressing them. Isaacson initiated a monthly meeting for representatives from human resources, internal audit, IT, legal counsel and public safety to share information about allegations of misconduct, strategize about investigations and address internal control lapses.

Before joining CUNY in October 2010, Isaacson was the chief compliance officer and associate general counsel at State University of New York (February 2007 to June 2010). Before that, she served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York (1995 to 2007). She also has served as a trial attorney in the public integrity section, criminal division, U.S. Department of Justice; an associate at Dewey Ballantine in Washington, D.C., and a judicial clerk for the Hon. Betty B. Fletcher on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (Seattle, Washington).

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