Archive for Thursday, November 18, 2010

Regents critical of KU School of Business handling of extra course fees

KU business school criticized for taking away student input

November 18, 2010, 11:48 a.m. Updated November 18, 2010, 3:20 p.m.


— Two members of the Kansas Board of Regents on Thursday expressed displeasure with how the Kansas University School of Business handled extra course fees, known as differential tuition.

Regent Chairman Gary Sherrer said business school students were inappropriately removed from discussions on increases in course fees and how the funds were to be used.

“Their input was taken away. The amount of increase was changed. That’s not keeping faith,” Sherrer said.

The regents called on KU officials to discuss the results of an internal review and audit into differential tuition after a group of master’s degree students raised concerns that the business school was not spending its share of funds according to how the program was originally proposed.

The audit released last week reported that of the $31 million generated within the School of Business, all had been appropriately spent, except about $60,000.

KU Provost Jeff Vitter said to the regents, “Even Ivory Soap is only 99 and 44 hundredths pure.” Vitter added, “I believe we now have an opportunity to move forward in a positive way.”

But Sherrer and Regent Tim Emert expressed concerns, especially over why a committee of students that was supposed to provide advice on the expenditures of differential tuition had been disbanded for years.

Vitter said the student advisory committee should never have been disbanded.

“We have acknowledged that mistake and have quickly moved to fix it,” Vitter said. A new student advisory committee was established at the start of the academic year, he said.

Emert asked why the student advisory committee was dissolved in 2006.

Vitter said he wasn’t sure but that it appeared that the advisory committee morphed into a committee analyzing ways to raise funds for a new building for the business school. When the new building project was abandoned because of the economic downturn, the committee stopped functioning, he said.

The audit found that the School of Business did not differentiate between general fund spending and differential tuition spending, making monitoring the funds “cumbersome.”

Emert said it seemed “very strange to me” that of all schools, the business school had trouble keeping records. “Was the bookkeeping just so bad that we had to spend $50,000 on an accounting firm?” he asked.

The audit also said that the original differential tuition proposal called for an increase based on the higher education inflation index, but that it had instead been increasing at a higher rate.

Sherrer said those increases weren’t right. “I would hope that you might give those folks a break this year,” he said.

Emert also said the school was not forthcoming with information after students started raising concerns.

Both Sherrer and Emert noted that the actions in question occurred before Vitter and Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little were at KU.

School of Business Dean William Fuerst announced in September he would step down from his position at the end of the academic year. Vitter said a search committee has started work in finding a new dean.


Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 6 months ago

Sounds like Emert and Sherrer felt the need to rehash the same old allegations that have been answered multiple times. Just more nonsense from the old boys network.

Perhaps they should have read some more recent news articles on the fees rather than bringing up the same tired misguided claims. The only new complaint is about the $50,000 review, which is odd since if KU hadn't done the review they would both be demanding KU spend $50,000 on one.

mysterion 7 years, 6 months ago

Sounds like Bob is drinking the Koolaid KU is giving out for free! I doubt you have any sort of clue about which claims might or might not have any merit, now would you?

berniesnightmare 7 years, 6 months ago

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cmbj 7 years, 6 months ago

It's funny that Bob points to the recent news articles that have more spin and smoke screen than most politicians can muster. KU has been arrogant since first questioned about DT and have never been forthcoming with honest answers. That, my friend, is more nonsense from the old boys network.

Thunderdome 7 years, 6 months ago

Yes, the Dean and the Provost "just want to move forward" with this issue because if the Board of Regents actually looks at the co-mingling of DT and general funds and how it was used to the Dean's and Associate Dean's benefit, it's going to get ugly.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 6 months ago

I don't understand what the big deal is. Isn't business school where you learn to arbitrary, capricious and greedy?

Larry Mitchell 7 years, 6 months ago

So Vitter's best response is that we can't expect our business school to be 100% pure? Is he serious? Or is he just so over-blown and out of touch that he thinks it's OK to be ALMOST right?

Did that work for the KU ticket office? Did that work for Perkins? Does that work for me, too? Can I start writing in an extra half-hour on my time card every day, since, "Even Ivory is only 99 and 44 hundreths pure?" Is that what Vitter teaches his students?

I can't understand how anyone at the business school, at KU, or in this town can believe that anyone over there is trustworthy after the events of the last year have unfolded in front of us.

The only "positive manner," I can see for Vitter to move forward at this point would be to move on to another job somewhere else, where 99.44% is enough. Perhaps he should try making soap instead of teaching our future business leaders.

-Larry Mitchell

BillyGoat 7 years, 6 months ago

Sir, nobody walking this earth is 100% pure. His point, of course, is that any serious analysis will always find some degree of inefficiency. Let's take your example of "hours of work". Applying the "Ivory principle" suggests that out of an eight hour work day (480 minutes) someone would not be "purely" working a total of 2.7 minutes. Personally, I could live with that degree of imperfection; in fact, I would want to hire many more of these “impure” employees. In the case of the business school, the review suggested that $60,000 out of $31 million dollars was not spent in ways that conformed to the original agreement. This is a little different than the athletics ticket situation where employees are charged with systematically stealing more than 5 million dollars for their own private use. Instead, try this analogy: Suppose your kid is attending State U and you give him or her $500 for textbooks. If they inappropriately spend at the same rate as the business school, this suggests your kid spent $1 of the $500 inappropriately. Upon questioning, you discover that instead of spending all of the money on textbooks, your kid made the decision to spend $1 to replace a burned out light bulb in their dorm room lamp so they could read the textbooks they were purchasing.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 6 months ago

Seriously, if KU hadn't spent $50,000 on this review, what would Emert and Sherrer be complaining about? They'd be complaining about KU not spending $50,000 on a review.

This is all a bunch of huffing and puffing from two guys who were loaded up with information by their old friends in Lawrence.

If all you have are criticisms, then you aren't identifying the problem. You are, in fact, the problem.

Larry Mitchell 7 years, 6 months ago

It's not about money. It's not about percentages. It's about trust. And again, your best argument is that "nothing is pure." That's ridiculous. "If all you have are criticisms, then you aren't identifying the problem, you are the problem," ... just when I thought you couldn't sound any sillier...

If I was working, and my manager shaved off 2.7 minutes, he'd be fired and prosecuted. I've seen it happen at almost every restaurant I've worked at in my undergrad days. People who can't see the forest from the trees are the problem.

Every strep of the way, as I've been reading along in the LJW, there seems to have been no good-faith effort on the part of the business school. Their constant effort of ducking and dodging, the arrogance, and the circular logic leaves a bad taste, and from a PR standpoint at the very least, to say that, "nothing is pure," is a cop-out and a horrible way to represent yourself to perspective students.

Sure, they're still going to have masters candidates at the KU school of business, but the first person a perspective student talks to after their perspective mentor(s) is usually a current student. And, it is evident that the majority of them feel like they've been bamboozled. If it doesn't cut down on the number of students in the short-term, it will certainly cut down on the quality.

Again, it's not the money. It's not the percentage. It's the trust, and it is 99.44% gone. Today's front-page story could have been a first step in "moving forward in a positive manner," as the findings are pretty much in the school's favor, but Vitters choice of words will work like turpentine on a brush fire. I really can't think of a worse choice of words for him. His quotes in today's story smack of arrogance and oblivion, (much like Bob's), and if you can't see that, you are a part of the problem.

BillyGoat 7 years, 6 months ago

I was simply trying to suggest that if you were able to track even your most productive employees' movements, you would find that there are a few minutes out of each day when they are not being productive. Somehow I don't think you would "fire and prosecute" someone for being non-productive 2.7 minutes out of an eight hour day. In fact, if they were productive 99.44% of their day, their performance levels would have you rewarding and promoting them. But this is a side issue .........

I agree with you that "trust" is a key ingredient. But when you say that "it's not the money", I think that's both right and wrong. I accept your point that with complete trust then concerns about expenditures would not be an issue. On the other hand, if we were only talking about a small amount of money, then the failure to keep the advisory board in place and the lack of transparency would be much less of a problem. When the stakes get much higher (e.g., $31 million) then these issues become much more of a concern. So it is about trust --- but it's also about the money. Finally, just because people are not in lock-step with you on all of these issues does not mean they are "part of the problem".

Thunderdome 7 years, 6 months ago

Provost Vitter,

I am sure you were told by the Dean and Associate Dean that the DT committee morphed into a building advisory committee, but that is not what happened. Test that theory and request the minutes from the building advisory committee and see how much they talked about DT expenditures. Better yet, talk to the students on the committee. And don't forget that the biannual reports were not produced. The steps taken to avert student oversight were planned and purposeful.

carrottop 7 years, 6 months ago

This story is still bothering me a day later. I'm late to the table on this issue and still trying to understand. I've spent my career in business, and higher education is not business. That being said, I still can't understand why one would leave the dean and his administration in place after you've basically found out that minimally they can't manage money and have been bamboozling customers. It wouldn't make sense to leave them in charge of the pottery department, let alone a business department. In my world, if the dude at the top even whiffed of impropriety, he would be gone immediately. Same goes for the CEO's like minded "team." I am just not understanding why this practical solution so alludes KU. There has to be someone with integrity who can manage this situation temporarily until an appropriate administration can be put in place. Am I missing something here?

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