John Norton, the University of Missouri-Kansas City business school faculty member who admitted falsifying rankings data, has resigned, the university said Friday.
Norton is the second UMKC employee involved in the rankings controversy at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management to quit. His resignation as associate director of the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is effective March 15.
Norton’s former boss, Michael Song, resigned last Friday from his nearly $400,000-a-year job. That announcement came almost two weeks after the Princeton Review stripped the university’s entrepreneurship program of top 25 rankings for the past four years.
Song founded the Regnier Institute in 2005 but left that post in 2014, although he continued to teach in the Bloch School.
In removing the rankings, the Princeton Review cited an independent university audit that was released last month. The report confirmed findings of an investigation by The Kansas City Star last summer that showed UMKC officials had submitted inflated data in its rankings applications.
Norton told auditors that he was the one who falsified the information but said he did so at Song’s direction because he feared for his job.
According to the 35-page audit report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Norton characterized the information he submitted to the Princeton Review as a “misrepresentation” of the entrepreneurship program.
Specifically, he inflated the number of student clubs and mentorship programs and submitted misleading enrollment information in applying for rankings from 2011 to 2013.
Norton, a nontenured business professor who makes $159,000 a year, directly attributed his resignation to his involvement in the rankings scandal.
“I am as passionate as ever about teaching entrepreneurship and innovation to our excellent Bloch School students, but I have reached the conclusion that my role in events of recent weeks may distract from that mission,” Norton said in a written statement Friday. “It’s critical to students and the community that this excellent program be able to move forward and continue fostering the growth of entrepreneurship education.”
Bloch School dean David Donnelly thanked Norton for his service and said his resignation was in the school’s best interest.
“John has always worked hard on behalf of our students and was dedicated to their success and to the success of our program,” Donnelly said in a written statement.
Chancellor Leo Morton, in a KCUR radio broadcast last week, apologized to students, faculty and the community for the rankings mess and promised it would “never happen again.”
He was not available for comment Friday.