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General Counsel: little known office plays key role

Nov. 5 through 11 is national Corporate Compliance and Ethics Week, but for one Texas Woman’s University department, ethics and compliance are the focus all year long. The Office of General Counsel, or OGC, ensures that TWU acts with integrity and complies with local, state and federal laws regulations and policies. Striving to provide legal advice and representation to the institution, the OGC works behind the scenes to keep TWU on the right path. 

According to “Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics” having a week specifically for compliance and ethics provides an opportunity to not only reiterate rules, but to foster a “culture of compliance.” 

“Our client is a university—it’s not the president, it’s not a faculty member, it’s not a single student, but it is the university as a whole,” Associate Vice President of General Counsel Destinee Waiters said. “Our job here is to be the standard bearer for the policies and procedures that take place, but also to ensure we are acting in line with the laws and regulations that cover us,” she added.  

Waiters joined TWU General Counsel three years ago, after serving a similar role for a large college in Houston. “My favorite part of the job, especially being in higher education, is getting to be a part of the foundation of an institution that helps people succeed in becoming who it is that they want to be,” she said.  

Waiters noted that part of her job is to set the tone for the policies of the university and collaborate with the Board of Regents. “We want to make sure that what we do as a university is consistent and fair with how we treat other people,” she shared. 

Another member of the OGC Director of Compliance Deena King, who works hand -in-hand with Waiters. “One of the things that is important to compliance is you have to know what laws this university is supposed to comply with. Well, who better than the general counsel to help you know what those are and also do some interpretation when necessary,” King said. 

King came to TWU about two years ago and said working in compliance suits her personality. “I kind of have this part of me that likes to follow the rules, so being the Director of Compliance is a great job to have when your job is to help people follow the rules.” 

King said she is promoting the importance of compliance during Compliance and Ethics Week and encouraging all TWU employees to recognize the importance of integrity and following the law. Although many students do not even know about King’s job, she said. “I would want students to know that what I do is something that impacts their lives.” 

One of the most common misunderstandings about the OGC is who the office actually serves. “We don’t actually represent the students, we represent the university,” Assistant to General Counsel Kymmi Grubb said. Grubb noted that Jerry Parr, TWU Legal Services Advisor, provides legal advice to students. “I don’t think a lot of people understand the difference in representation, so I think that would be something I want students to understand is to know if you have a problem call Jerry Parr.” 

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