Professional News

Q&A With UK Chief Accountability Officer, Audit Executive Joe Reed

photo of Joe Reed
Joe Reed is UK's chief accountability officer and audit executive. Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 25, 2020) — Earlier this fall, the University of Kentucky announced it would elevate and expand its commitment to diversity, student success, accountability and its historic land-grant mission of service as part of an expansion of UK President Eli Capilouto's leadership team. As part of that expansion, UK created the position of chief accountability officer and audit executive. Joe Reed, UK’s chief auditor, moved into this new position.

Reed first joined UK's internal audit staff in March of 2004. He has a mechanical engineering degree and a Master of Business Administration from the University of New Haven and maintains internal auditor and fraud examiner certifications. His professional experience includes finance, project management and operational management as well as leading workshops.

Reed recently sat down with UKNow to discuss his new role as the chief accountability officer.

UKNow: You have a background in mechanical engineering and business administration. Was working in a university setting something you planned to do?

Reed: No. Higher ed was not even on my radar screen. And it's interesting. It is so different. I tell friends, colleagues, family members — it is the most complex industry that you can be involved in. Everything's here. You talk about research, sales, marketing, warehousing, logistics. I can go on and on. I'm just fascinated at the things that higher ed has to offer and just excited to be here and excited for the future.

UKNow: What is the role of a chief accountability officer?

Reed: Chief accountability officers, depending on where you are and what industry, have different roles. Pairing that with internal audit (here) is a natural fit. We're guided by our professional standards and internal auditing, and in there are certain guidelines, certain independence, and all that is held by the chief accountability officer. The biggest change (here) is a heightened focus on operational effectiveness and efficiency. It’s going to be at the forefront.

UKNow: How is this role different from your previous role as chief auditor?

Reed: It's not too vastly different. You still need that independence where you're reporting to a level that allows this position to fulfill its functional responsibilities. When it comes to this role, it will be in conjunction with more transparency.

Every role at the university has a job they should be doing, and the intent is, are they doing what they should be doing? When you make goals and objectives, are you achieving those goals? What can we do to assist? It’s as simple as that.  

UKNow: How will this new position impact other areas of the institution, from an administrative level?

Reed: For us, and in my role, what we try to do is be a partner. Don't see us as an adversary. It's a partnership. We need all the partners we can get. We cannot do this job alone.

The one thing that has been tremendous in my tenure here at the university is the number of allies and colleagues that really work well with this office. And that's why I just enjoy it so much. I truly enjoy the role I'm at in being an auditor and working in the accountability office at the University of Kentucky.

UKNow: Is there anything else you’d like our campus community to know?

Reed: No one is perfect, and no process is perfect, because processes are driven by people, and people have flaws. So for us, mistakes are there. Mistakes are going to happen. For us, we just want to get it right.

We're not perfect, and we don't expect others to be. But we are transparent, and that's what we expect of everyone.


An extended version of the interview with Reed can be heard on a recent episode of the “Behind the Blue” podcast. Listen here.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.