Mary Jo Rizzo: Helping protect dePaul's community and reputation

Mary Jo Rizzo
In addition to her role in general compliance training, Mary Jo Rizzo and her team manage DePaul's misconduct reporting hotline, acting as a resource to faculty and staff in addressing any compliance-related questions and issues. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
It's February, which means all DePaul employees should have recently completed the annual training on the university Code of Conduct and related policies and regulations. For more than 11 years, compliance manager Mary Jo Rizzo has played a role in developing and maintaining the training that helps protect DePaul faculty and staff and, ultimately, the university's reputation.

"Rather than seeing it as extra work, we always hope people embrace compliance, for its value in protecting the university and the mission," Rizzo says. "The overall goal is to ensure DePaul's ability to operate by educating the university community on its responsibilities to help prevent potential financial and reputational harm. We've worked to update the training to make it as convenient as possible for folks to complete."

This year, Rizzo and her team collaborated with Information Services to update the training system. From revamping the platform to be smartphone-responsive to developing an auto-save function in the training's pretest options, the compliance team sought multiple ways to make the mandatory code of conduct training as easy as possible on employees.

"We're trying to be respectful of people's time," she says. "We understand folks have a lot on their plates. However, we believe there is value in doing the training every year; it's a good refresher. So far, feedback on the new system has been very positive. We always look forward to hearing from people and their suggestions on what else can be done to improve the training experience. Compliance is a collaborative effort and we rely on and appreciate our colleagues throughout the university who help us achieve it."

In addition to her role in general compliance training, Rizzo and her team manage DePaul's misconduct reporting hotline, acting as a resource to faculty and staff in addressing any compliance-related questions and issues. Executive management also is kept informed of hotline utilization levels, trends and investigation outcomes. She also has oversight of the quality assurance reviews conducted with budget managers to identify gaps in policy compliance.

 "Many times, when people hear the word compliance they automatically think, 'Gotcha!' We're not about that," Rizzo says. "We're here to help everyone understand what needs to be done to be compliant with laws and policy. We're here to answer questions; to keep folks out of trouble, rather than 'catch them' if they are. If a day goes by and someone says I helped them in any way, then I know I've done my job."

Though external changes and developments in policy are always occurring, Rizzo feels DePaul's standards and processes are solid.

"DePaul is very responsive to emerging risks and issues," she says. "We work to identify and address these topics and trends in annual Management Standards Training each spring, and of course consistently monitor them throughout the year. This year, the compliance team will partner with Student Affairs, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity and the Title IX Coordinator to present 'Management Standards Training sessions on Preventing Harassment at DePaul and Business Continuity Management.' DePaul's policies are comprehensive and we have good controls in place to manage our risks. It's this proactive approach that makes DePaul such a great place to work."