A high-profile whistleblower who uncovered one of the biggest corporate frauds in American history will speak at New Mexico State University Monday, Oct. 4.
Cynthia Cooper, bestselling author, consultant and internationally recognized voice on ethical leadership, will deliver lectures at three separate speaking engagements presented by the NMSU College of Business and the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative at NMSU.
Cooper gained fame in 2002 after exposing the massive accounting fraud at WorldCom, where she served as the vice president of internal audit and led a team of auditors who discovered the company had covered up $3.8 billion in losses through fraudulent bookkeeping. She was one of three whistleblowers named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2002. In 2007, she published her book, “Extraordinary Circumstances: The Journey of a Corporate Whistleblower.”
Cooper will first speak to several business classes on the Las Cruces campus between 9 and 11:30 a.m. in Domenici Hall, Room 109. She will then give a talk during a luncheon at the Las Cruces Convention Center between noon and 2 p.m., and wrap up the day with a second on-campus lecture between 5 and 7 p.m., also in Domenici Hall, Room 109.
The luncheon and evening lectures are open to the general public and business professionals, especially accountants, who may receive continuing education credits by attending either talk. Both events are free, but registration is required. Registration for the luncheon ends Friday, Oct. 1, and registration for the evening lecture ends Sunday, Oct. 3.
“As a whistleblower, Cynthia saw some major things that turned out to be the largest accounting fraud in U.S. history – and she did something about it,” said Erin Baca Blaugrund, director of Daniels Ethics Fund Initiative at NMSU. “In her case, as in most whistleblower cases, it hurt her career. It’s unfortunate, but I feel like those are ethics lessons that people need to learn: Don’t be afraid of doing the right thing because of potential consequences.”
Cooper is the highest-profile figure to engage with NMSU through the Daniels Ethics Fund Initiative during Blaugrund’s tenure with the program, Blaugrund said. Cooper’s visit – made possible through a grant from the Daniels Ethics Fund Initiative – will also mark the first large-scale, in-person event the NMSU program has hosted in 18 months.
“We want participants to walk away with a thought process of ethics is good,” Blaugrund said. “We want them to pay attention to those little hairs that stand up on the back of their neck if they think something is wrong. We want our students, in particular, to think about principle-based ethics, living a life of integrity and being transparent, and holding themselves accountable.”