ECU internal auditor staff members are, left to right, Bill Kraus, Tereasa Hopkins, Bill Wood, Mary Olson, Wayne Poole, Amanda Danielson, Kevin Newman and Stacie Tronto. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)


Internal auditors help keep ECU on the right track

May 19, 2016

By Doug Boyd
ECU News Services

At the opening of East Carolina University's eighth dental community service learning center last month, you'd be correct to think dentists and architects had a lot to do with the design of the building.

But what about the design of what goes on inside the building - specifically, how do the staff and students operate the facility in a way that meets state, federal and university standards?

That's where internal auditors come in.

"They've been a huge asset in all the things they've done and helped us do," Dr. Gregory Chadwick, dean of the ECU School of Dental Medicine, said about the ECU Office of Internal Audit and Management Advisory Services. "We're actually starting nine dental schools if you look at the way we're set up, and we want to do it right, and they have been very helpful."

Helping departments get organized, follow policies and procedures, meet compliance rules, improve operations and efficiency - these are the jobs internal auditors most frequently do at ECU. May is International Internal Audit Awareness Month.

"Many people want to do what's right, but they don't know what the rules are," said Stacie Tronto, chief audit officer and executive director of internal audit. "If it matters to you, it matters to us."

Her office is an independent function of the university that reports to the chancellor and the ECU Board of Trustees Audit Committee. Internal audit's services include financial, operational, compliance and information technology reviews; management advisory services; investigation of suspected fraud and abuse; education and training on internal control best practices; and serving as a liaison between the university and external auditors.

The office works in accordance with the Institute of Internal Auditors' "International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing."

During the last fiscal year, internal audit completed 56 projects, made 75 recommendations to management, engaged in 141 consultations with the university community and outside agencies, and more.

Areas and departments internal audit worked with included athletics, ECU Physicians pharmacy services, information technology and computing services, and parking and transportation.

"It's like a puzzle, and you have to put all the pieces together and keep the unit on the right track," Tronto said.

Chadwick said auditors play an important role in making sure business, personnel, privacy and other functions are carried out correctly and efficiently.

First-year dental student Luke Current works in a simulation lab as Dr. Greg Chadwick, dean of the school, and auditors Bill Kraus, Wayne Poole and Stacie Tronto observe.

"It's things that happen behind the scenes to make sure we're in compliance with state and federal laws and also general accounting principles," he said. "They've been very helpful in helping us understand the ECU way of doing things, how the state wants us to do things."

Anne Jenkins, interim executive director for business and financial affairs at the dental school, said specific examples of how auditors have helped include establishing procedures to handle cash at the CSLCs, making sure former employees and students no longer have access to electronic patient information after they leave the school and implementing other internal controls that minimize the risk of fraud and other types of risk.

Auditors, she said, are "very helpful in getting policies and procedures written up and documented. Once they get in there they look at a little bit of everything."

ECU auditors also have worked with the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and Elizabeth City State University on various assignments. The work has saved the UNC system an estimated $166,000.

The office does this work with limited means. Other than salaries, internal audit has an annual operating budget of $32,256. 

"It's a resource here within ECU that probably people don't appreciate or have exposure to until something is amiss," Chadwick said.

In September, Tronto will present department findings on the use of data analytics to improve auditing at the Association of College and University Auditors' annual conference in Miami.

For more information or to report concerns or knowledge about waste, fraud and abuse, go to or call 328-9025.

  ECU's internal audit staff

Stacie Tronto is chief audit officer and executive director. She has a bachelor's degree in accounting and a master of business administration degree from ECU. A certified internal auditor, information systems auditor and fraud examiner, she has more than 27 years of accounting and auditing experience.

Wayne Poole is associate director of internal audit. His typical assignments include performing and supervising IT audits, health care audits, investigative audits, computer forensics and consultative work. He has a bachelor's degree in accounting from ECU and an MBA from Embry-Riddle University. He is a certified internal auditor and a certified information systems auditor. He previously worked as a business systems analyst at the Brody School of Medicine and as an operations auditor/evaluator for the U.S. Air Force.

Tereasa Hopkins is assistant director. Her work assignments include performing and supervising operations and compliance audits, follow-ups and consultations. She has bachelor's degrees in business administration and accounting from ECU. She is a certified public accountant and a certified fraud examiner. Before joining ECU, she worked in public accounting for 10 years.

Bill Kraus is internal auditor and health care auditor. His assignments include operations and compliance audits and consultations related to the Division of Health Sciences. He has bachelor's and master's degrees in business administration and a certificate in health care management from ECU. He is a certified public accountant and certified internal auditor. He has also been certified in health care compliance. Before joining ECU internal audit, he worked as an internal auditor in banking, higher education and health care.

Amanda Danielson, internal auditor and health care auditor, also focuses on the Division of Health Sciences. She has a bachelor's degree in business administration and a master's degree in accounting from ECU. Before joining internal audit, she worked as an accountant in financial services at ECU.

Kevin Newman, internal auditor and IT auditor, focuses on operations, compliance, IT audits, follow-ups and consultations. He has a bachelor's degree in business administration from ECU and is a certified fraud examiner. Newman previously worked as a computer-assisted audit specialist and field auditor with the N.C. Department of Revenue.

Bill Wood, internal auditor, works on operational, compliance and investigative audits as well as consultative work. He has a bachelor's degree in accounting from Appalachian State University and is a certified internal auditor. He previously served as internal audit director at the UNC School of the Arts, controller for Surry Community College and as an auditor for the N.C. Office of the State Auditor.

Mary Olson, program specialist, performs research and audit testing in conjunction with all types of audit, consultation and follow-up engagements completed by the office. She also performs various administrative tasks and special projects for the office. She previously held administrative management positions in the Chancellor's Division, the College of Health and Human Performance and the College of Arts and Sciences as well as with the University of Washington and University of California systems.