Florida International's B-School Dean Faces a Faculty Revolt

FIU Dean David Klock Photograph courtesy of FIU College of Business

Tension is mounting at Florida International University’s College of Business, where Dean David Klock is facing a backlash among faculty members and students, who are accusing him of poor communication, lack of vision, and an unhealthy focus on the bottom line.

A major beef FIU students have with Klock is the sudden departure of Nancy Borkowski as the director of the health-care MBA program. When she unexpectedly stepped down in August, many blamed her departure on the dean’s management style, according to the Miami Herald. More than 100 students, staff, and alumni signed a petition on change.org asking that Borkowski, who is still a faculty member, return. Borkowski declined to comment.

Klock told the Herald that he had nothing to do with Borkowski’s decision to step down and that the faculty revolt is the work of “a small number of people [who] just don’t like change.” Klock declined an interview request from Bloomberg Businessweek, and his written response to questions did not address the faculty and student concerns. He cited numerous accomplishments in his first year as dean, including a 12 percent increase in revenue, the hiring of 15 new faculty members, and the upcoming arrival of a new vice dean of administration starting Nov. 1.

The faculty opposition to Klock has created an uncomfortable atmosphere at FIU’s Miami-based business school. According to the Herald, anonymous faculty e-mails have been circulating that suggest Klock is not right for the dean’s job. “He’s just apparently alienated the great majority of the faculty,” business professor David Ralston told the Herald. “The reason there’s so much anonymous e-mail going around is that there is a fear of retribution.”

Klock is not without supporters. Department chairs and directors sent a memo on Oct. 4 to faculty and staff affirming their support for the dean’s efforts. At a recent faculty assembly meeting, university President Mark Rosenberg defended the dean and criticized the anonymous faculty sniping.

“There are ways to hold us accountable that fall within the norms of civilized behavior,” Rosenberg said, according to the Herald. “That kind of lynch mob behavior is not acceptable.”

University Provost and Executive Vice President Douglas Wartzok says the school has contracted an outside organization to conduct an internal “climate survey” in the near future. Wartzok expects the results of the survey to be available by the end of the fall term, he adds, and they will be shared with “everyone in the college.”

With a salary of $370,000 a year from FIU, Klock is among the highest-paid business deans in the state, according to the Herald.

And he is no stranger to controversy. After becoming dean of the business school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2008, he became embroiled in a federal lawsuit brought by a tenured professor who accused him of unfairly trying to push him out of the faculty, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Klock says there was “zero” truth to those claims, and the suit was ultimately settled, the Herald reports.

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