Archive for Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dismal rankings reflect leadership issues at KU

July 17, 2010


With Kansas University fall semester classes due to start within a few weeks, it’s reasonable for those deeply interested in the welfare and success of the school to wonder who will be driving the KU school bus during the 2010-11 year.

This question is justified due to the seemingly rudderless direction and control of the school the past few years.

It is unfortunate the last three or four years of the Hemenway administration were not strong, visionary and aggressive. There was far too much drifting and floating.

This being the case, faculty, students, parents, taxpayers and those genuinely interested in the school had hoped the next KU chancellor would provide the missing enthusiasm, vision, communication skills and leadership so vital to the school.

Unfortunately, the hunger for those attributes continues.

The mess in Allen Fieldhouse is a disgrace, with reports or findings from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service yet to come. The ticket scandal, along with the arrogance and ego of some within the department has dishonored the department and the university.

It continues to be a puzzle why Hemenway extended the athletic director’s contract and sweetened bonus arrangements.

With the AD’s salary among the top of all university athletic directors, it is disappointing, as well as frustrating and maddening, to see KU’s poor position in the annual national “Director’s Cup” standings as well as the KU record in the Big 12.

It seems reasonable to think if the AD is one of the country’s top-paid athletic directors, the school’s athletic performance record also should be near the top of Division I schools.

Guess what? In the just-compiled Director’s Cup scorecard of Big 12 schools, as well as in the national rankings of 278 Division I schools, KU’s performance is a disgrace.

In the Big 12, KU ranks next to last, with Kansas State at the bottom. In the national ranking, KU places 73rd.

As usual, Stanford University leads the Director’s Cup, with Texas A&M; at No. 5; Oklahoma, 14; Nebraska, 15; Texas, 20; Oklahoma State, 32; Iowa State, 33; Baylor, 38; Texas Tech, 40, Missouri, 48; Colorado, 66; KU, 73; and Kansas State, 131.

One of the reasons KU ranks so low is that it does not provide as full a sports package as other schools.

Considering the salary or earnings of KU’s athletic director, it would seem a few new programs could be added to KU’s competitive menus merely by making some cuts in the AD’s salary.

By the way, KU’s ranking and accomplishments in the Big 12 should raise some concerns when comparing Perkins’ salary and the size of his staff to salaries and staff in other athletic programs in the Big 12.

Nationally, KU ranked 65th in 2003-04, 72nd in 2008-09 and 73rd in 2009-10. KU’s record has gotten worse in the past six years, not better.

Will Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little take more control of what goes on in the athletic department or allow Perkins to run the show however he wishes?

Also, when will she start the search for a new athletic director? Is there a possibility Perkins would be encouraged to leave earlier than the previously announced 2011 retirement date?


Another matter of concern is what has been disclosed recently about questionable actions in the KU School of Business.

Some years ago, the Kansas Board of Regents OK’d a program that allowed various schools within the university to charge “differential” fees on top of regular tuition. Under this plan, a dean was expected to form a student oversight committee to have a voice in how the added money was allocated.

A number of students in KU’s master’s in business administration program have raised questions about the failure of the KU dean to maintain a student oversight committee and expressed concern about how the dean has spent the additional tuition money, which amounts to well over $1 million.

According to the students, the dean and others within the school — and some in Strong Hall — have tried to stonewall this matter and act as if there is nothing wrong or out of line.

Students agreed to the differential fees, but they did so expecting the added hundreds of thousands of dollars would be spent to improve the academic excellence of the school rather than primarily to help fund the school’s administration.

The School of Business is just one of many KU schools that collects the differential tuition, and the scheme amounts to millions of dollars.

Are deans abusing these funds, and who has been on top of the situation? Is this more evidence of the provost’s lack of control and awareness of what is happening on the academic side of the university?

In addition to the questionable use of differential tuition dollars in the business school, there also is the question of how and why KU’s school was dropped from the prestigious Center for International Business Education and Research program.

KU was one of 31 U.S. universities to have this association, and regardless of how KU business school officials try to pooh-pooh this loss, it is a major blow to the school and to students and faculty interested in international business. According to some close to the program, the CIBER loss did not have to happen. It could have been saved.


This raises the question of whether the provost’s office is as knowledgeable and involved as it should be in how the overall KU academic program is operating. How powerful, involved and influential will KU’s new provost, Jeffrey Vitter, be in the operation and development of the university?

Generally speaking, the provost operates as “Mr. Inside,” overseeing the academic side of the university, with the chancellor filling the role of “Mr. or Mrs. Outside,” dealing with the public, legislators, fundraising etc.

The question of who is driving the KU bus remains unanswered, but many are asking if a new, strong, respected provost might move into the driver’s seat, providing the vision, smarts, communication skills and energy to be a powerful driving force for the university.

Justified or not, there is concern about Gray-Little’s ability to be an effective, inspirational leader. There have not been many times in the university’s history when the need for strong, visionary leadership has been as great as it is today.

Most KU fans want Gray-Little to succeed and take firm control of the school. However, as one knowledgeable observer said to this writer, “She must jump in with both feet. This is not just a run-of-the-mill job. It calls for a strong leader. Does she have the ability to be a visionary and true leader, or is she just reacting to situations?”

This question of leadership and whether Vitter might move into the driver’s seat is timely and critical.

Unfortunately, there is a small cadre in Strong Hall that seems to have a goal of trying to protect or insulate the chancellor from the “outside” where she might hear the concerns or worries of loyal KU supporters. They are not doing the chancellor any favors, and the real motivation for their actions may be to try to cement and protect their own positions with the chancellor.

The coming school year is critical for KU. Will there be new vigor, excitement and enthusiasm, along with better faculty morale?

Will Chancellor Gray-Little supply the leadership and vision the university deserves and needs? Will the chancellor take control of the athletic department? Will a new provost be better informed and involved in the institution and be on top of situations that have surfaced in the School of Business?

Lastly, will the new provost turn out to be the major engine driving the KU bus — both on the academic road and on the off-campus, public, legislative and alumni trafficway?


Alceste 7 years, 7 months ago

What is rather amusing to this poster is the seeming emphasis by Mr. Simmons that all what he writes is "new business"! The University of Kansas has been a 2nd class operation for well over 20 years now. It's a joke to even refer to it as a "university", really.

Mr. Simmons' opines "...along with the arrogance and ego of some within the department has dishonored the department and the university...."....but fails to really write the truth...that in fact the entire university infrastructure is filled to the brim with this arrogance; that education has taken a far distant back seat to functioning as a publically subsidized system for professioinal athletics to muck about in; and that the town vs gown split grows and grows and grows.

4ABetterKU 7 years, 7 months ago

With KU's athletic tradition, we should be competing for a top 25 Directors' Cup ranking annually. With only six men's sports, we do not stand a chance against the better universities. Read the prestigious names of the institutions ranked in the top 10-20 places. Leaders at other universities know the prestige associated with being a top ranked academic or athletic program and they understand that athletics success is the "window to the university".

Here's to hoping the leadership at KU begins to understand that academic and athletic rankings are important to the long term success of our state university.

jayhawklawrence 7 years, 7 months ago

It sounds like Dolph is saying that KU is the best school in the state of Kansas.

Maybe there is a problem with the state more than the school.

Dolph comes across as so biased that you cannot completely trust what he says on most issues. Not exactly a good character trait for a professional journalist.

We may not have the capacity to achieve the kind of ranking we feel we deserve with the kind of leadership we have in Topeka. Maybe our political leaders are just mediocre at best.

Maybe the vision thing starts in Topeka.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 7 months ago

Dolph is right, as are other posters.

KU stopped trying about 20-30 years ago, and simply rested on its laurels (the arrogance factor here).

Now, KU finds itself in a hole academically, athletically, and in research, and the state is only cutting funding.

Chancellor Grey-Little has demonstrated that she is not the leader to drive KU forward.

Good luck Provost Vitter. You might end up overseeing the largest exodus of successful KU faculty to other universities in the history of KU.

Graczyk 7 years, 7 months ago

Gray-Little has not been around long enough to pass judgment. It takes 3-5 years to change a corporate culture. It will take at least that long at KU. Gray-Little's effectiveness will best be measured in incremental improvements. She inherited a mess and it will take some time to clean it up. It takes a long time to turn a big ship.

Some people incorrectly point to Gray-Little's handling of the Perkins situation as proof that she can't handle the job. I think that Gray-Little engineered a textbook high-profile firing. Does anybody really think that Perkins is voluntarily leaving? Yes, Gray-Little could have made a big splash by publicly pillorying Perkins. However, that would have made it more difficult to hire a quality AD in the future. The pool of qualified ADs is relatively small and you can bet that they watch how things are handled at other institutions. Gray-Little made sure that the KU job remained attractive by not making a big stink about getting rid of Perkins.

Phillbert 7 years, 7 months ago

I was going to commend Dolph for actually including facts in his column. Too bad he stopped with the Director's Cup rankings.

Lew makes $1 million, so it is hilarious that Dolph thinks we could get "a few new programs" "merely by making some cuts in the AD’s salary." Even if you include that one year he got a big retention payment, there's still not enough to start a new team, let alone "a few" of them.

And when he says that the money the Business School gets from differential fees "amounts to well over $1 million" he is accurate, I suppose, since it is actually $6 million and that is technically "well over" $1 million. BTW, that was not at all hard to find on the Business School website ( There's even a breakdown of expenses that shows how Dolph's line about it going "primarily" to administration is false. So much for "stonewalling"...

Oh, and Provost Vitter, Dolph is setting you up. No matter what you do, within six months he'll be attacking you ad nauseam. Gray-Little hasn't even been here a year and you see how he and his merry band of commenters treat her.

fuzzyfred1 7 years, 7 months ago

Phillbert: According to what I've seen, the cumulative amount collected is $31 million over five years. And yes, there is a site that says "how" the funds were spent. Listing how they're spent, and actually spending them how they were contracted are two different things. Also on the site is a link to the special course fee agreement. Might wanna check that out for details.

mysterion 7 years, 7 months ago


This post appear to be a serious attempt by the Dean and Associate Dean to keep their jobs now that the student group has publicly demanded their resignations. For one thing, this is a hastily arranged attempt to throw something up on the KU website to make it look like everything is on the "up and up." If they had all of this data right at their finger tips, then I find it really odd that they just didn't provide it to the student group when asked several months ago. Had they actually responded with sincerity and a full accounting, then this matter likely would have ended at that point. Instead, they choose to delay, and then when that didn't work, they tried arrogance, followed by bullying and ultimately pulled out their last resort, which is the link you so kindly pointed out to the internet universe. The interesting thing about this link is that it really in many ways just proves what all of the students are saying about a lack of accountability.

For example, let me just pick a few points out from the new post.

  1. New Undergraduate majors. The post says that majors in Finance, Marketing, Management and IS were implemented as part of the original plan. This is really a pretty sad excuse for a plan when you consider that KSU has all of these majors and MORE and it doesn't have to use course fees to provide what I consider to be a basic offering in the first place.

  2. Increased enrollments in undergraduate and graduate programs. Again, this simply reflects the issue raised by the student group. The problem is that the program is evidently not being selective about any admission considering that KU MBA program ranking essentially has dropped to the bottom of the big 12.

  3. Academic/Career Advising Services, and Advisory Boards for each New Major. Seriously???? Graduate students enrolled in the MBA program are required to already have professional work experience. Do you really think they need help preparing resumes. Do you really think an advisory board for each new major provides an enhanced educational experiences??? This is pure nonsense.

  4. Entrepreneurship program. This program actually has many problems, including the main instructor who, by the way, has an MBA from Baker University. I'm not saying that an MBA from Baker University is a bad thing, but in every other department, faculty consists of PhD's and other similarly qualified people. I don't believe an MBA from Baker qualifies someone to take the lead role in an entrepreneurship program at a major university. Not to mention, this program, and its staff receives a number of complaints from students the subject of which would be an interesting revelation via an Open Records request.

to be continued...

mysterion 7 years, 7 months ago


  1. Study Abroad. This is also a joke considering the loss of KU's role in CIBER as well as the other programs they have stopped participating in. This is simply smoke and mirrors by the Administration. In fact, this is one of the major areas of complaint of the student group.

  2. Professional Communications classes for MBA and MAcc Students. Again... Seriously??? If graduate students at the MBA and MAcc level need help communicating effectively, then they shouldn't be in the program. But, alas, this is probably a necessity when you consider my earlier point about very low admission standards in the program and the fact that the program appears to let any warm body in the door that applies.

Basically, I'm not going to comment of the rest of the points make on the post because they too are smoke and mirrors. The point that the student group has been making is completely lost on the administration. Students were to have oversight on these expenses. This is the first reporting of these expenditures in years. Why now you ask? The answer to that should be obvious, it's called self-preservation Most of these provide absolutely no value to an MBA or Macc Students. I doubt that many of these programs would have ever been approved by the differential tuition advisory committee had it actually been formed as the agreement required. I'm glad that the administration has now finally published a list of expenditures. Now that they have committed to these numbers, it should be very easy to run through them and show which expenses shouldn't have been paid via differential tuition which is exactly the issue raised by the student group. Just because the administration posted a financial detail doesn't mean that those expenses were appropriate or consistent with the requirements of the differential tuition agreement.

The problems within the business school run much deeper than a hastily prepared expense sheet and explanatory summary can explain away.

mom_of_three 7 years, 7 months ago

mysterion, you have no clue about #4 - seriously.

PugnaciousJayhawk 7 years, 7 months ago

Documents that I have seen suggest that the business school has collected tens of millions in differential tuition in the last six years. What has happened to this money?

independant1 7 years, 7 months ago

An economist is a man that can tell you anything. His guess is liable to be as good as anybody else’s, too. (Will Rogers)

KU_cynic 7 years, 7 months ago

See the link available under Phillbert's posting (above). There one can find a document showing how the money was spent in FY 2010. I presume the money was spent similarly in earlier years, mostly on faculty and staff salary for positions supporting new initiatives in the school.

Have the business school leaders been sloppy in not providing this information as they were supposed to? Yes. Is there some big scandal beyond that? Highly doubtful.

Linking the business school's minor problems with the Athletic Department's big-time scandal is mere sensationalism and irresponsible. And suggesting that the new chancellor has had anything to do with the root problems -- big or small -- is just ludicrous.

ralphralph 7 years, 7 months ago

... but has she had anything to do with starting the process of correcting them? I mean, other than jaunting off to Merry Old England?

PugnaciousJayhawk 7 years, 7 months ago

If the grapevine is correct it sounds like differential tuition isn't the only B-School revenue stream that hasn't been properly accounted for. They are clearly institutional issues.

kuprof54 7 years, 7 months ago

You don’t think that collecting $31 million from students and then spending it on things other than what the tuition contract requires is ludicrous? You don’t think that violating a contract between the dean, students, KU, and the Kansas board of regents is ludicrous? You point out that the bschool has a site with the information on it. Too bad it doesn’t correspond with what the tuition contract requires and how the money is supposed to be spent. You PRESUME money was spent similarly in previous years. Well, you would know if documents were published for previous years, as required by the tuition contract. Also notice that the dates on all the documents are from within the last 10 days. That’s curious.

You’re right - the bschool site is a beauty – it provides some valuable information to those students trying to prove their point. It proves what students have been claiming all along. The administration is spending millions of dollars on significant expenses and programs that weren’t in the original agreement and that the oversight committee (which was disbanded in 2006) would have never approved. Why was the oversight committee ever disbanded anyway?

Nowhere in the tuition contract does it allocate money for study abroad programs. The information tells of a BUS101 class. Are you telling me that without $31 million in additional fees, the Dean couldn’t have a BUS 101 class and there wasn’t one already?? This is ridiculous that administration is claiming this as a success, as are several other broad and intentionally vague statements on the list.

In addition, actual expense reports show that under $300k were spent on scholarships from DT funds, not $900k. And nowhere near 250 student jobs were provided because of DT. Pull the annual operating budgets. They’re public documents. Check the administration’s claims.

The DT contract doesn’t mention funding for the LRTC internships. The bschool pays the LRTC to give students internships?? Why should differential tuition be used to pay a company to hire students for internships?? The contract also doesn’t allow for students to be subsidizing an independent supply chain program in Leavenworth.

The site also says more MBA classes are taught in Lawrence. Prove it. MBA students can’t complete a single concentration without taking classes at the Edwards campus and incurring significant added costs. After five years of DT and $31 million, the administration couldn’t arrange for at least one “concentration” to be in Lawrence? MBA’s can’t even get official concentrations. The administration won’t do the required paperwork or legwork so concentrations can show up on degrees.

jhawks360 7 years, 7 months ago

KU's rankings ARE going up, Dolph. But you refuse to write about it.

You hate KU. And, one day when you're gone, KU will be in a better place.

Thunderdome 7 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for the link about Business School course fees, Philbert. I see that it was very recently posted. Defensive posturing? A review of this summary of course fees (differential tuition) indicates a few problems. Under primay enhancements, a great many of the things listed either don't cost much, if any money or may well have existed prior to the institution of DT. For instance, new undergraduate majors shouldn't really cost that much to create given that the faculty existed to have the majors before DT was instituted. Most business schools have long had majors,and without extra funding from students. Increased enrollment is listed as an "enhancement" but all that really tells us is that the B-School is generating more's not an enhancement. Advisory Boards don't cost anything to institute. Student worker positions only indicates a re-distribution of wealth from some students to those lucky enough to get a position. Also, 250 positions? The KU Jobs Site must be filled with these opportunities for employment in the Business School. And with respect to the Lawrence Regional Technology Center, they should be paying for their own interns, not soaking students for funding. Isn't LRTC funded by KTEC?

Study abroad opportunities have actually decreased with the loss of Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) grant, the loss of CIMBA, a program in Italy where KU use to be the degree grantor (lost to the University of Iowa), and the elimination of the GRIP, a highly valued opportunity for students to study a specific industries in a specific country. By the way, out of 30 incumbent schools to apply for a CIBER grant, KU was the only incumbent not to be renewed for this grant.

If there are indeed an increased number of masters courses offered in Lawrence as the School claims, it still doesn't defer the need for all master students to have to travel extensively to the Edwards Campus to complete their degrees. And a business minor doesn't cost money, it actually makes money as it soaks students in other majors for more fees including DT.

None of this adds up. The only thing that is evident is that the Dean of KU's School of Business is paid very well. There are various sources to validate this but it looks like it is close to $100,000 more than the average Dean's salary at doctoral granting business schools according to the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. Check it out at

So...Philbert says "so much for stonewalling." I wonder if its better to stonewall or to provide false information? I personally think this whole thing stinks to high heaven.

hbjayhawk 7 years, 7 months ago


Thank you for stealing and plagiarizing my comments on the KU School of Business and commentary I had on Provost oversight/challenges when this article first appeared earlier in the Summer.

Your lack of original thought on this topic and insteading taking my commentary and making it your own exemplifies the problem further. You are a KUEA cheat and should turn in your Jayhawk Medallion.

wallyfried 7 years, 7 months ago

After reading all of the above, I had to finally post something here. I would like to say that I'm a proud graduate of the KU School of Business, but I won't. I actually went through the entrepreneurship program. I'm proud to say that the single best piece of advice I received from the entrepreneurship professor was to always make sure that, when working in a team environment, I should make sure and have at least one female teammate with the "proper large features" (read between the lines) on the team. What a joke! The entrepreneurship program at KU is taught by a complete lightweight. Judging by the money they say they are throwing at it, I think they could do much better. I'm glad to see that people are finally getting sick of the environment at the business school and saying something publicly about it.

Thunderdome 7 years, 7 months ago

I don't think anyone implied that strong athletics correlates to poor academics. They can be mtually beneficial. And it's fair to say that the State of Kansas has lacked a certain amount of vision, not to mention fiscal support, of the Regents system. All that being said, there is a clear lack of leadership, vision, and institutional control specifically at the University of Kansas. Schools on campus that do have strong deans are finding ways to succeed by prioritizing goals. Schools like the Business School with poor leadership are running ammock, giving themselves exorbitant raises, and are actually overpaid both by what they have accomplished and in comparison to national salary surveys.

independant1 7 years, 7 months ago

Welcome to Lawrence, Kansas

Home of KU Diesel Drivers School

curious_one 7 years, 7 months ago

This is common all over the KU campus the higher the position you carry the bigger the ego, the more arrogance you're allowed to carry. this happens all over the campus from top to bottom. The facade of nothing is wrong when someone complains about a problem is very common. KUHR is a joke and to have them investagate any internal issue is completely stupid idea, as for they found no wrong doing on Lew's part, please. They just didn't want to be the one's to report it as they have a bias interest, they work there. Each school being able to charge additional fees this doesn't surprise me eaither. This is KU making the new rules as they go, because they don't have to follow the State University guidelines anymore. They just receive funding from them and we all know their broke. I do think it's kind of obivious why Hemmenway, Leverire, The dean of the the school of atrs, athletic dept. employees all left shurely it wasn't because KU is one of the best Universities too work for. One would think that KU would already have a policy in place for any department that generates money. Maybe they shoud retink back to some very basic ethical practices and have a third party aduting company audit those departments this doesn't leave room for ay wrong doing. Oh I forgot the fact that their broke and probally wouldn't want to spend money to save money, but wait they are already diong this with the new company that replaced Chevron on the utilities. You would think that with all the problems thev have had in the past with employee theft this would already in place espacally on a monetary level. It is flat out discusting how leadership roles are acting and it does effect all of the moral at KU and the Lawrence community.

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