by Jon Schuessler
In 2013, the Bloch School of Management – part of the University of Missouri in Kansas City – seemed to be on the fast track to success. Its entrepreneurial program was rated very highly, albeit not yet in respected circles. One publication, the Journal of Product Innovation Management, ranked it as the top business program on the planet. The Princeton Review put the program in the top 25 for four years running.
An investigation by The Kansas City Star in 2014, however, said otherwise. It implied that the program’s creator and director, Michael Song, had been cooking up false data. His subordinate, managing director John Norton, then fed the incredible stats to business journals in order to get a #1 ranking.
A state-ordered audit by Pricewaterhouse Coopers put the definitive black mark on Song and Norton’s supposed “success”. The audit revealed that Song’s program had grossly inflated its membership, the number of businesses it had started, and its clubs. Early in 2015, The Princeton Review stripped Song’s program of its top rankings.
By that time, Song had been collecting an annual public salary of $250,000 and Norton a public salary of $159,000. During the four years that the pair had been lying about their accomplishments, they had made a total of $1,636,000.
Perhaps they knew a thing or two about business after all.(Click here for Michael Song scandal coverage)
Both Professor Song and Professor Norton resigned following the scandal.
Chancellor Leo Morton refused to name the people responsible, but admitted that the scandal was a “hit to our brand”. He stood behind the #1 ranking for the Bloch School program from the Journal of Product Innovation Management, even though it was given during the period that Song and Norton were fudging the facts.
John Norton admitted to falsifying data, but claims he only did it because of pressure from his boss, Michael Song.
Neither of them are facing any legal action.
A second audit revealed that the Bloch School of Management ran up a $10.6 million deficit in its pursuit of a 'number one ranking'. University officials say they are looking into ways to improve financial controls.(Click here for a summary of the second audit)
Jon Schuessler is a Volunteer leader in Jefferson County, and the chairman for Missouri Volunteers for Government Reform, a Political Action Committee (PAC) of the Volunteer Movement. Click here to read his bio or contact him.