You can file this one under the “what the hell was he thinking” category:

A flash drive with information on about 8,000 Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi students was lost by a mathematics professor while on vacation in Madagascar, the Corpus Christi Caller reported.

The flash drive may hold Social Security numbers and other information for students of all classifications and majors enrolled during the spring, summer, and fall of 2006, according to Marshall Collins, assistant vice president for marketing and communications at the university.

The drive was owned by Department of Mathematics Chairman Blair Sterba-Boatwright, who took it with him on a two-week vacation and discovered it was missing as he was packing to go home, Collins told the Caller.

University administrators notified via e-mail students whose information may have been compromised. A university investigation is pending and will begin early next week led by Interim Provost Robert O. Kirby.

Paul McCloskey, “TAMU Corpus Christi Prof Loses Flash Drive With 8,000 Student Records,” Campus Technology, 6/18/2007, http://www.campustechnology.com/article.aspx?aid=48635

Apparently, Sterba-Boatwright was evaluating student performance in mathematics while on vacation. First off, it was a vacation. The entire point is to NOT work.

Secondly, what possible reasoning could have justified taking that much sensitive info out of the country and then NOT returning with it?  Apparently, he thought it had been erased. Uh huh. Like 8,000 files on a flash drive isn’t noticeable when viewed on the computer while working on vacation in Madagascar.

Maybe I’m being harsh. Goodness knows that I work at odd hours and on my days off. But, and here’s the difference between us I guess, if I’m going to take the time to go to an entirely different country for two whole weeks to relax on vacation, I’m NOT going to be taking any kind of electronic devices with me, except maybe my cell phone. But that’s just me.

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