The University of Missouri is calling in PricewaterhouseCoopers to investigate allegations that the former dean of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management engaged in unethical behavior to gain rankings publicity for the school. The decision to bring in the professional services firm was made by the University’s Board of Curators.
It follows a series of investigative articles by the Kansas City Star that found a pattern of exaggerations and misstatements that polished the school’s reputation as it sought to boost enrollment and open the checkbooks of donors, especially its primary benefactor Henry W. Bloch. No less crucial, the stories reveal highly questionable actions by the school to obtain a ranking, even one that few outsiders would bother to report—but could still be used to differentiate the school to would-be applicants.
Within days of publication, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon asked the University of Missouri Board of Curators to review the rankings attained by the business school.
BLOCH ANNOUNCES SUPPORT OF SCHOOL
The scandal has not only brought unwanted attention to a regional business school but also has resulted in negative exposure to a famous entrepreneur and generous philanthropist who has given millions of dollars in support of the Kansas City community. With his brother Richard, Henry Bloch founded the tax preparation firm H&R Bloch in 1955. He made a $32 million gift to the business school in 2011, the largest in the university’s history, but has also contributed handsomely to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, among other causes in the area.
In a statement to Poets&Quants, Bloch is standing by the beleaguered business school that bears his name as well as one of the institution’s prominent professors, Michael Song, who is known for his work in innovation. “The two No. 1 rankings Michael Song achieved in innovation management research, in 2007 and again in 2012, are great achievements, but they are not the reason for my investments in the Henry W. Bloch School of Management,” he said. “I have invested in the school because of its growing enrollment and across-the-board great performance over many years by its students and faculty in areas such as accounting, entrepreneurship, real estate, public administration, nonprofit leadership and other disciplines. The Bloch School is not just a great asset for UMKC and for Kansas City, it is a foundational element of our community’s effort to grow and prosper. I am proud of the Bloch School, and its leadership continues to have my full confidence and support.”
‘NO FUTHER COMMENT UNTIL AFTER THIS PROCESS HAS RUN ITS COURSE’
The university hopes the review by PWC will put the scandal behind it. Board Chair Don Downing, in a brief statement, said that the university “will publicly release the conclusions of the review subject to any appropriate privacy concerns that may be raised. PricewaterhouseCoopers will conduct a review of the facts, and those facts will be reviewed by an appropriate academic expert not affiliated with the University of Missouri System or any of its campuses. There will be no further comment until after this process has run its course.”
The focus of PWC’s investigation is likely to be former Dean Teng-Kee Tan, who stepped down last year after a four-year stint for health reasons. It was Tan who was in charge of the school when the allegations took place. David Donnelly, currently dean of the Bloch School, referred a request for an interview from Poets&Quants to the university’s media relations department which supplied two official statements from the university and the Board of Curators. Donnelly, an accounting professor and an associate dean, had been named acting dean when Tan left the job and has since been named dean.