Alejandro “Alex” Diaz, who most recently served as the inaugural chief compliance officer at Temple University in Philadelphia, has been tapped as Dartmouth’s first chief compliance officer, Executive Vice President Rick Mills has announced. Diaz started work at Dartmouth on Jan. 30.
Diaz will report to Mills with a dotted line report to the chair of the Board of Trustees’ Audit and Oversight Committee. As CCO, he will serve as the senior leader overseeing all aspects of how Dartmouth complies with federal and state laws, rules, and regulations and other external regulatory requirements. In that capacity, he will design and implement a compliance structure to support existing compliance efforts throughout campus.
“The creation of a centralized structure to oversee institution-wide compliance has been a high priority for the board,” says trustee Susan Finegan ’85, chair of the Audit and Oversight Committee and a member of the CCO search committee.
“Of course, this not the beginning of compliance at Dartmouth—it’s a natural result of how complex higher education law has become. It takes someone with Alex’s breadth and depth of experience to navigate this changing landscape and help reinforce a culture of integrity and the highest ethical standards.”
Mills, who chaired the search committee, says Diaz’s experience is a perfect match for Dartmouth’s needs. “Alex emerged as the top candidate by exhibiting the best combination of experience in both private sector and university settings and a genuine enthusiasm for the challenge of building a central compliance program from the ground up,” he says.
Vice Provost for Research Dean Madden, who also served on the search committee, says Diaz stood out for his positive, holistic approach.
“Alex sees compliance as an integral element of scholarly and creative work, and he’s a real team player. By providing resources and partnering with investigators and other institutional offices, Alex will ensure that Dartmouth can advance its mission while effectively meeting its legal and ethical obligations.”
At the same time, the CCO’s link to the board’s audit and oversight committee helps ensure the CCO’s independence, Madden says.
Diaz says his approach to building a strong compliance program is to listen and learn from those already doing the work. “In my experience the only approach that works is to be super-collaborative,” he says. “The National Association of College and University Attorneys put forth a matrix of the laws, rules, and regulations an institution of higher education has to comply with that is 294 entries long. No one person can know all that. So we have to rely on the experts in the different compliance areas to continue their good work.”
His role, he says, will be to “provide a common framework, so that we have a consistent approach, a consistent view, and a consistent message across all compliance areas. And it’s not just compliance. You want to do more than comply with laws, rules, and policies. We want to go beyond the minimum that’s required; we want to do the right thing.”
Diaz also says “it’s important to foster a culture where stakeholders, employees, students, and members of the community feel comfortable speaking up when they see things, and feel comfortable asking questions. There’s a training aspect to that, too. Then, of course, we will adjust over time. We might find that a weakness in one area, or a strength that we can copy everywhere else. It’s going to be a customized approach designed to meet Dartmouth’s needs.”
Among his accomplishments at Temple, where he served as CCO beginning in 2018, Diaz developed and implemented the university’s comprehensive ethics and compliance function, established a whistleblower hotline and investigations process, launched a university-wide enterprise risk management process, established a unit to oversee the accuracy and completeness of university data publications, and taught an undergraduate class in corporate compliance at Temple’s Fox School of Business and Management.
Before Temple, Diaz served as vice president for compliance at the Eaton Corp., a global power management company; and in several senior roles at Coca-Cola Enterprises, including senior counsel for commercial leadership and information technology and vice president and chief ethics and compliance officer. He began his career as an associate in the litigation department of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP. Diaz earned his JD at Cornell Law School and his bachelor’s degree at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn.
Diaz, who is originally from western Massachusetts, says he’s excited about returning to New England. “I’m a lifelong Red Sox fan. And it was love at first sight for Dartmouth. At my interview I met a wide swath of people, it was pouring rain, and I just loved the place.”
In addition to Mills, Finegan, and Madden, the search committee included Senior Vice President and Senior Diversity Officer Shontay Delalue; Associate General Counsel Tammy Hickox; Chief Operating Officer Heather Huff; Vice President for Finance and Controller Dianne Ingalls ’84, Tuck ’88; former Interim Director of Athletics Peter Roby ’79; and Senior Associate Provost Kenya Tyson.