Temple Dean Out for Falsifying School Ranking Data

Moshe Porat was fired after an investigation revealed that the Fox School of Business intentionally misreported information to improve and maintain U.S. News rankings.

Photo: Temple University.

Moshe Porat, former Dean of Temple University’s Fox School of Business, was officially forced out of the role on Monday. The ousting follows the release of an investigative report that says the school intentionally provided false information to U.S. News to gain a No. 1 ranking for its online MBA program over the past few years.

Porat was asked to step down on Monday and when he refused, officials at the university fired him, a Temple spokesperson confirmed to Philadelphia magazine. Porat, 71, was dean of the school for 22 years.

In January, U.S. News yanked the online MBA program from the rankings for misreporting key information. Temple itself had stepped forward to admit that it submitted inaccurate data for the 2018 Best Online MBA Programs rankings. A whistle-blower reportedly pushed officials to finally come clean.

Data submitted to U.S. News were inaccurate regarding the percentage of incoming Fox online MBA students who provided GMAT scores as part of the enrollment process from 2015 to 2018, Temple said in a statement.

Additionally, the average undergraduate GPA was overstated, and there were inaccuracies in the number of offers of admission as well as in the degree of student-borrower indebtedness.

In a statement, Temple president Richard M. Englert said an absence of checks and balances, coupled with an excessive focus on rankings, “enabled such misreporting.”

Following the demotion in January, the university hired law firm Jones Day to conduct an investigation of the school’s data reporting processes. The investigation confirmed that Fox provided U.S. News with inaccurate information across multiple data metrics, but also revealed that Fox provided “erroneous information relating to other programs as well,” investigators wrote in the investigation’s findings and recommendations report.

And there were multiple opportunities for Fox personnel to observe and correct the inaccurate data, but these opportunities weren’t seized either before or after submission, the report found.

Overall, the investigation discovered that Porat and other personnel created a stiff environment, where improving or maintaining Fox’s position in rankings was a top priority.

The group even devised a “concerted, rankings-focused strategy including detailed analyses of U.S. News’s ranking methodology and strategies tied to specific U.S. News data metrics.”

In other words, personnel felt serious pressure to report bad data to U.S. News. Porat could not be reached for a comment Tuesday morning.

The Fox School of Business enrolls more than 9,000 students and employs more than 200 faculty members, according to the school’s website. The online MBA program, which enrolls more than 300 students, costs about $60,000 per enrollee.

Several students have filed a lawsuit against the university over the ranking, particularly for consumer fraud. Temple recently filed a motion to dismiss the group’s initial complaint, on the grounds that the students’ damages are speculative. The students have submitted an amended complaint.

The Fox School is on the hunt for an interim dean and says it will launch a national search for a permanent dean as soon as possible.