In a First, Princeton Review Dumps School for Lying

UMKC

University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC)’s business school has lost its position in Princeton Review’s top 25 lists of the best entrepreneurship education programs in the country after Chancellor Leo Morton acknowledged falsifications in its applications for rankings and awards from national organizations.

The school faked figures regarding the number of student clubs, the number of mentoring programs and enrollment numbers, writes Mike Hendricks of The Kansas City Star.

The business school loses four years’ worth (2011-2014) of top-25 rankings for fabricating data. The incident is the first time in its 34-year history that the Princeton Review had stripped a school of its rankings.

The actions follow the release of an audit for the University of Missouri System, which make a difference to both the graduate and undergraduate programs at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management’s entrepreneurship program. The graduate program received the No. 24 spot in 2014 while the undergraduate program was ranked No. 25.

According to the audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers, UMKC provided false information to the review organization to boost its rankings because it was under pressure from its major donor to ensure high consistent ratings; writes Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed.

The school’s head benefactor and H&R Block co-founder Henry W. Bloch expressed his dismay over the incident in a statement released on Monday evening.

“Over the years, I always expected every organization to which I provided philanthropic support to act in an open, transparent and truthful manner. As shocked and terribly disappointed as I am to learn that flawed data was submitted, I am now counting on UMKC’s leadership to ensure that a culture embracing the highest level of integrity is upheld at the Bloch School in the future.”

Morton stated his approval of Princeton Review’s actions.

“We understand why the Princeton Review has taken this step. Even one inaccurate data point is one too many, and our integrity is paramount. With that in mind, we have requested that The Princeton Review withdraw our rankings from 2011, 2012 and 2013, based on the inaccurate information provided for those years.”

The Chancellor mentioned that the school had taken measures to improve its data collection system and had also produced a special committee to monitor the submissions of rankings.

Another audit by an international accounting firm, however, found information that backed the rankings of the school regardless of the falsifications. An article by two Chinese scholars that rated the school’s entrepreneurship program as top in the world was also not challenged.

The Princeton Review board refused to take similar actions last summer when evidence provided by The Star suggested that UMKC had provided false information in its data.

UMKC officials denied all allegations last year and were later proved wrong by the audit. The administrator in charge of sending in the applications to the review board admitted to knowingly provide misleading data out of pressure of losing his job.
The past three years have seen around eight US universities detecting false data submitted by their employees to similar publications in order to enhance the institutions’ rankings.