In the year since Klock took over the College of Business, about a dozen employees — predominately women and/or minorities — have taken jobs elsewhere. A summary of exit interviews collected by FIU’s personnel department from that period includes a “Feedback regarding Dean Klock” section, with four bullet points. All of them are negative.
The form doesn’t identify specific former employees, but the criticism includes comments such as he is “a poor leader,” “is not approachable,” and is someone who “does not know our needs and is not aligned with the College’s goals.”
Jorge Arrizurieta, a member of FIU’s board of trustees, said he is “very concerned with the decibel level of what’s going on in the school of business.”
“I understand how a new ‘sheriff’ has new approaches,” Arrizurieta said. “For whatever reason, most of what I have heard is the negative, not the positive. If nothing else, the dean has a serious internal PR issue.”
Business schools occupy a prominent place at many colleges — FIU included. Nearly one-third of FIU’s total degrees are awarded by the College of Business, and its international business degree track has been nationally recognized. The business school’s graduate programs, such as the Healthcare MBA, are also big moneymakers for the university, thanks to the hefty tuition that they charge.
FIU had spent years trying to find a new business school dean. The university moved unusually quickly in hiring Klock. In the weeks before Klock’s hire, Rosenberg emailed Provost Douglas Wartzok for an update on the dean search. After Wartzok responded, summarizing the status of Klock and other candidates, Rosenberg wrote back: “All I know is we gotta move.”
Before Klock had even met with FIU’s selection committee in mid-2012, the new dean was negotiating his starting salary with Wartzok, email records show. They show Klock was disappointed in FIU’s initial salary offer, and the university finally agreed to pay $370,000 a year — which is more than $100,000 higher than what the business dean at the University of Florida makes.
Records show at least some selection committee members were uncomfortable with how fast things were progressing.
In a July 16, 2012, email, FIU professor Mary Ann Von Glinow, director of the Center for International Business Education and Research, told the provost to hold off on making a hasty decision. Klock, she wrote, had a questionable track record as an administrator and had been unimpressive in his on-campus interview.
“There is no reason to act swiftly, except to reject him,” Von Glinow wrote. “He isn’t close to what we want, or need at the B-school, and based on the comments I have heard after his presentation, he bombed.”
Four days later, Klock was officially hired.
Klock, a Massachusetts native, has a varied and impressive résumé. He is the son of a milkman, and the first in his family to go to college. He holds a doctorate in finance and credits his education with driving his financial success.
In 1980, while Klock was a professor at the University of Central Florida, he says a former student asked him to get involved in CompBenefits, a small dental benefits company. Klock and his wife, Phyllis, eventually took over the company, and under their watch it expanded to almost five million members in nearly two dozen states — with roughly $350 million in revenues. Health insurance giant Humana purchased CompBenefits for $360 million in 2007.