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UMKC agrees to $625,000 settlement with Bloch School whistleblower over false rankings

People walk in front of a three-story brick and glass building that has a sign on it that reads: "Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall."
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
The University of Missouri-Kansas City has settled a lawsuit with a former professor who claimed he was fired because he helped expose attempts to inflate rankings at the Bloch School of Management.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City acknowledged former professor Richard Arend for bringing "genuine problems and issues to the media's attention."

The University of Missouri-Kansas City has agreed to pay $625,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a former professor who alleged he was fired for exposing efforts to inflate the business school’s rankings.

The Kansas City Star reported that Richard Arend’s account was key in its 2014 investigation, which questioned the validity of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management’s top rankings.

UMKC and Arend issued a joint statement on Tuesday recognizing the professor's role in bringing attention to the issue.

“UMKC acknowledges that Professor Arend did bring genuine problems and issues to the media's attention,” the statement said. “Further, UMKC acknowledges Professor Arend's academic contributions to the University during his tenure at UMKC.”

The Star said its investigation found that officials at the Bloch school misstated and embellished data to boost the school's status and draw in students and donors.

Following the Star’s report, former Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called for an investigation into the Bloch school. An independent audit in 2015 confirmed the validity of the school’s top ranking by the Journal of Product Innovation Management.

The investigation also found school officials had inflated data about enrollment and programs to the Princeton Review. UMKC then asked the Princeton Review board to remove the Bloch school from its list of top 25 business schools for the years 2011-2013.

The Star reported that Arend was fired in 2016 after he claimed he was targeted for termination for pushing for more accountability. He filed a lawsuit against the university the following year.

Arend and UMKC agreed in their joint statement to not make any further comments on the settlement.

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More than ever, education lies at the intersection of equity, housing, funding, and other diverse issues facing Kansas City’s students, families and teachers. As KCUR’s education reporter, I’ll break down the policies driving these issues in schools and report what’s happening in our region's classrooms. You can reach me at jodifortino@kcur.org.
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