The Bloch School’s fall from grace

U-News Staff

The Players

  • Dr. Michael Song came to UMKC in 2004 for his expertise in many fields, including entrepreneurship, strategic marketing and innovation management. Dr. Song was also hired to help the Bloch School establish a prestigious business program. By 2005, Dr. Song successfully helped to establish the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation within the Bloch School. The Princeton Review recently ranked the Bloch School as the top business school in the world for innovation and management research.
  • Former Dean Teng-Kee Tan came to UMKC in 2009 and, like Song, was hired to help  establish  the Bloch School of Management. According to the Kansas City Star, UMKC hired Tan with a salary of $410,000, along with an additional $50,000 bonus annually if he successfully raised funds, increased community involvement and improved the school’s level of prestige. However, Tan resigned from his position last year due to health reasons.
  •  Henry W. Bloch is one of the University’s most prominent benefactors, and is the Bloch School’s namesake. In Sept. 2011, Bloch donated $32 million to the school to help fund construction expenses as the school expanded its. In an e-mail to other administrators, Tan wrote about the donor: “[Henry] Bloch gets very upset when our rankings go down,” and “We must do everything we can to increase it when we can by all means necessary.”
  •  Professor John Norton is the Managing Director for the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted an audit to investigate the school’s rankings and released the report Jan. 30, which suggests Song directed Norton to submit inflated data about the Bloch School to the Journal of Product Innovation Management, or JPIM. The audit determined that data were exaggerated  for the number of mentorship programs and student programs, and some aspects of enrollment information, along with failures to disclose conflicts of interest. Norton told the Star he knowingly submitted inaccurate data because he was pressured to do so, and feared potentially risking his job if he failed to comply.
  •  Dr. Richard Arend is a tenured associate professor at the Bloch School who initially suspected the rankings were inaccurate. In an interview with the Star, he said he considered it odd that UMKC ranked above private, more established and better funded institutions such as Harvard or MIT. Other professors within the school expressed similar concerns.
  • Mike Hendricks and Mará Rose Williams broke the story for the Kansas City Star after interviews with professors from UMKC, professors from other universities and outside consultants.



The Controversy

Dr. Michael Song and Dean Teng-Kee Tan made vast improvements in the Bloch School, which earned the school Princeton Review’s number one ranking among business schools in the world and top-25 rankings 2011-13.

This ranking was largely based on the data which had been published in the Journal of Product Innovation Management (JPIM). This published information was scrutinized by university professors and outside professionals when doubt and suspicion began to set in.

Dr. Richard Arend attempted to contact administrators about the discrepancies in the information used in the report, but was dismissed.

He and many others came to testify in an article released by the Kansas City Star in July of last year regarding the inaccuracies in the reported information. The article, written by Mike Hendricks and Mará Rose Williams, outlined erroneous information, subjective self-evaluation and exaggerated data.

The nature and severity of the accusations made in the article prompted Gov. Jay Nixon to request the University of Missouri Board of Curators commission an audit.

The international accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, conducted an audit and found three main areas in which data was falsified. The audit report submitted in January determined the number of mentoring programs, the number of student clubs and enrollment data had been falsified.

While other claims of unsound methodology were found indeterminate by the audit, these three are enough to not only harm the reputation of the school, but also to void the rankings it had received from the Princeton Review for the last four years.

The Aftermath

The Princeton Review’s rankings of schools are valued, as high ranks are typically accompanied by increased enrollment, donor attraction and prestige. While the Review has no affiliation with Princeton University, it maintains a system of integrity by which schools can be evaluated.

UMKC has had its top-25 rankings for the last four years revoked.

Chancellor Leo E. Morton issued a public apology last Monday to the community for falsifying data on a published report.

“This is very serious to me because this is not what we are about, and I want everyone to know that we are addressing it in a very serious way,” he said.

Morton ensured the community that steps are being taken to ensure this will never happen again.

This is the first time in the Princeton Review’s history of 34 years in which a school has been stripped of its rankings.