Western Washington University - Executive Director of Internal Audit

April 22, 2021


Western Washington University enrolls over sixteen thousand students in more than 160 academic programs at the Bellingham campus and seven satellite locations around the Puget Sound area.  Western, which first opened its doors in 1899, is perennially ranked as the best public, master’s granting university in the Pacific Northwest and No. 2 in the West, according to U.S. News & World Report college rankings. Kiplinger’s ranks Western among the top 100 public colleges and universities in the nation that offer the best quality and affordability.  U.S. News and World Report has named Western one of the most cost-efficient in the country among highly-ranked universities and for several years in a row the Chronicle of Higher Education has recognized Western as a “Great Place to Work.” 

Western is particularly proud of its position as a leader in multidisciplinary environmental education and sustainable campus operations.  Western provides an active student-centered learning environment with a liberal arts and sciences foundation and robust co-curricular, internship, research, creative, and service learning opportunities. There is a widely shared vision that Western will be a higher education leader in a culturally responsive 21st century learning environment, applying its critical strengths to societal issues as well as creating a welcoming community for a diversity of people, ideas, and programs. To that end, Western has embraced a style that is collegial, transparent, and timely in its engagement and communication with on- and off-campus stakeholders. 

Western’s mission, as stated in its Strategic Plan, states that together with our students, staff, and faculty, we are committed to making a positive impact in the state and world with a shared focus on academic excellence and inclusive achievement.  Western’s commitment to and work on Equity, Inclusion and Diversity can be found on Western’s President’s page on Advancing Inclusion and Diversity. We encourage applications from women, people of color, people with disabilities, veterans, and other candidates from underrepresented backgrounds and with diverse experiences interested in this opportunity.

The main campus of Western is located on 212 picturesque acres in Bellingham, Washington, a coastal community of 90,000 overlooking Bellingham Bay, the San Juan Islands and the North Cascades Mountain range. The city lies 90 miles north of Seattle and 60 miles south of Vancouver, British Columbia.


The Office of Internal Audit at Western Washington University provides independent, objective assurance and consulting services with the goal to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of business, risk management, control and compliance, and governance processes, and to ensure the integrity of financial and operational systems.  


The Executive Director of Internal Audit fulfills a key role in assisting the University to maintain a high standard of financial and operational integrity and effectiveness. Using a consultative and collaborative approach, the Executive Director provides guidance and advice to the Board of Trustees, the President, the President’s Cabinet, and others, and serves as a resource to promote effective controls, industry best practices, and adherence to applicable laws and regulations.

The Executive Director plans, develops, directs and executes a comprehensive University-wide internal audit function to help identify, monitor, and mitigate risk and identify opportunities to improve controls and operational efficiencies. By developing and implementing internal auditing policies and procedures, they ensure compliance with identified objectives, standards and laws. The Executive Director ensures that the Internal Audit program provides reasonable assurance that the University uses resources efficiently and effectively, maintains appropriate internal control systems and stewardship over assets, and conducts program operations in compliance with University policies and Board of Trustees Rules of Operation.

The Executive Director serves as a trusted advisor to academic and business unit leaders who have responsibility for programs involving complex financial, operational, compliance, and information systems components. The Executive Director is responsible for preparing and presenting periodic reports to the University Administration and the Board of Trustees, including plans for proposed internal audits, results of completed audits, and informational briefings on relevant trends and best practices.

The Executive Director reports functionally to the Board of Trustees Finance, Audit and Enterprise Risk Management (FARM) Committee to provide an independent audit function through activities that include the Committee’s periodic review of the Internal Audit Charter and review and approval of the annual audit plan.  The Executive Director reports administratively to the President for day-to-day operations of the internal audit activity and appropriate interface and support for departmental and employee effectiveness.

The successful candidate will be expected to fulfill leadership and mentoring responsibilities that provide equitable and inclusive working environments to the staff they supervise and the faculty, staff, and students they work with.


        • Plans, develops, directs, and executes a comprehensive, independent, university-wide program of internal audit, consulting and investigation services, with the objective of adding value by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of University operations, risk management, internal control, governance and compliance.

        • Fosters a culture of compliance at the University through a shared commitment to quality audit programs and customer service in support of the institutional mission and goals.

        • Develops, promotes and maintains productive and collaborative relationships with internal and external stakeholders to provide subject matter expertise and consultation, including participation in University compliance committees and task forces.

        • Develops an audit plan that focuses on high-risk areas identified through an inclusive risk assessment process.

        • Provides leadership, supervision, and direction for assigned staff with a focus on team work, professionalism, and collegiality.

        • Supports and promotes equity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace. 

        • Acts as Western's liaison for the State Auditor’s Office Whistleblower Program. Maintains an anonymous complaint reporting tool on the Office of the Internal Audit’s webpage and processes all complaints in accordance with protocols.


The successful candidate will be a skillful leader and communicator who can effectively balance the need for independence with a spirit of collaboration. Working with and through others, the successful candidate is expected to demonstrate the following skills and qualifications:

  • Undergraduate degree from an accredited institution.

  • Minimum of seven years of progressively responsible auditing experience.

  • Thorough understanding and practical experience of governmental auditing standards and enterprise risk management in a complex organization.

  • Ability and willingness to adopt a high-level, institutional perspective while also working independently in a hands-on, results-oriented fashion.

  • Demonstrated leadership/supervisory experience with strong personnel management experience.

  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills for effective and positive communication with management, faculty and staff across all operational areas within a decentralized environment.

  • Demonstrated ability to effectively present information and respond to questions from the Board of Trustees, management, staff, and the general public.

  • Demonstrated experience and judgment to develop effective recommendations in a variety of different and complex situations.

  • Demonstrated ability and commitment to cultivating a work environment that is equitable and inclusive of faculty, staff, and students from diverse cultural backgrounds and social identities.

  • Strong analytical skills including collecting and analyzing complex data, evaluating information systems and drawing conclusions.

  • Unwavering integrity, ethics, and professionalism. 


  • Master's degree in accounting, finance, business or related field.

  • Public sector audit experience.

  • Professional Certifications relevant to the position, such as Certified Public Accountant, Certified Internal Auditor, Certified Fraud Examiner, or Certified Information Systems Auditor.

  • Relevant experience in an institution of higher education.


Western Washington University has engaged Opus Partners to support the recruitment of this position. Katie Dean, Associate Partner, is leading the search. Inquiries, applications and nominations should be sent by email to Katie at katie.dean@opuspartners.net.

Applications should include a cover letter and resume that should address your experience related to the position responsibilities and the required and preferred qualifications.  In addition, applications should include contact information for a minimum of three professional references to be considered.  A complete application also requires a separate statement (1-2 pages) demonstrating your ability and commitment to cultivating a work environment that is equitable and inclusive of faculty, staff, and student from diverse cultural backgrounds and social identifies. This statement may draw upon your personal and/or professional experience.

Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience; includes an excellent benefits package.

Application review begins May 20th 2021; position is open until filled.


Western Washington University (WWU) is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer committed to assembling a diverse, broadly trained faculty and staff. Women, minorities, people with disabilities and veterans are strongly encouraged to apply. In compliance with applicable laws and in furtherance of its commitment to fostering an environment that welcomes and embraces diversity, WWU does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex (including pregnancy and parenting status), disability, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status or genetic information in its programs or activities, including employment, admissions, and educational programs. See WWU’s Policy on Ensuring Equal Opportunity and Prohibiting Discrimination and Retaliation. Inquiries may be directed to the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance, Title IX and ADA Coordinator, Western Washington University, Old Main 345 (MS 9021), 516 High Street, Bellingham, WA 98225; 360.650.3307 (voice) or 711 (Washington Relay); crtc@wwu.edu

WWU is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities upon request. To request this document in an alternate format or to request an accommodation, please contact Human Resources Disability Services, 360.650.3774 or 711 (Washington Relay).

Annual Security and Fire Safety Report: This report is provided pursuant to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act ("The Clery Act"). It includes statistics for the previous three calendar years concerning reported crimes that occurred on Western's campus; in certain off-campus buildings or property owned or controlled by Western; and on public property within, or immediately adjacent to and accessible from, the campus. The report also includes institutional policies concerning campus security, such as policies concerning alcohol and drug use, crime prevention, the reporting of crimes, sexual assault, and other matters. You can obtain a copy of this report in printed or alternate formats by contacting the Office of the Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services at vpsa.office@wwu.edu. The report can be found at: Annual Security and Fire Safety Report.

All new employees must comply with the immunization policy and show employment eligibility verification as required by the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service before beginning work at WWU. A thorough background check will be conducted on all new hires.