The mission of the University of Tennessee’s ERM initiative is to enhance the university’s performance in pursuit of its goals and objectives. ERM results in enhanced performance through the implementation of a framework for managing risk. The framework centers on a risk assessment for identifying, analyzing and responding to risk opportunities and risk threats.
University leaders use an ERM framework to create a risk-aware culture where consideration of risks is imbedded in the decision-making process—at all organizational levels (e.g., system, campus/institute, college/school, department/program), in functional areas (e.g., finance, HR, IT, emergency management) and for special initiatives (e.g., acquiring a new campus).
Scope of UT’s ERM Initiative
Like most ERM frameworks, UT’s can be applied at any organizational level—from the UT System entity-wide level to any component part, such as campuses/institutes, colleges/schools, departments/ divisions or programs/projects. ERM frameworks can also be used to assess risks for a functional area within an organization, such as finance, human resources or information technology. It is particularly applicable when considering new strategic initiatives.
Each year the enterprise risk office selects an area of focus. The focus will be on systemwide initiatives in most years. Some years, because of the complex operating structure of a university system like UT, the annual initiative will involve more than one organizational level. For example, the focus for 2020 was on risks related to the COVID-19 pandemic at the campuses and the focus for 2021 was on COVID-19-related activities at the UT System Administration. For 2022, the focus is on the achievement of the UT Systemwide Strategic Plan, which involves activities at the campuses and System administration.
Role of Enterprise Risk Officer
The Enterprise Risk Officer (ERO) leads the university’s ERM initiative. Reporting to the senior vice president and chief financial officer, the ERO is responsible for developing an ERM framework that addresses the university’s needs and is compliant with state law.
The ERO serves as a consultant to university leadership, facilitates meetings for completing risk assessments and related tasks, educates the university community about ERM and partners with other university departments and areas concerned with risk (e.g., audit, general counsel, institutional compliance, risk management, safety and emergency management) to enable a holistic perspective of risk.