Temple Settles State Investigation Into Online MBA Rankings Scandal for $250K
The money will fund a new scholarship for students at the Fox School of Business.
Remember when Temple University falsified data about its business school programs in order to get higher rankings from U.S. News & World Report magazine? Well, as a result of that mess, Temple has faced investigations and litigation on virtually every front imaginable: a class action lawsuit by former students (settled), a libel lawsuit from ousted Fox School of Business dean Moshe Porat (ongoing), an internal investigation by law firm Jones Day (no settlement necessary), a U.S. Department of Education investigation (likely ongoing), and a state investigation by Attorney General Josh Shapiro (more on that right now).
Last July, Shapiro announced, in a fairly menacing-sounding press release, that his office was “demanding answers” from Temple about the controversy. On Thursday, the two sides settled. According to the terms of the agreement — under which Temple didn’t admit any wrongdoing — the school will establish a new $25,000 scholarship fund for its business school for the next 10 years. Temple also agreed to standardize its data-reporting procedures across the entire institution, maintain an anonymous tip line for people to report any data falsification, and submit yearly compliance reports to the state in order to ensure no further malfeasance is afoot.
“This behavior mislead students, alumni, employers and the public about the quality and value of these Temple programs,” Shapiro said in a statement. “It’s critical that students and alumni alike have confidence in the value of their degree or certification from Temple University or any other institution.”
In a statement, Temple president Richard Englert emphasized his institution’s cooperation with the probe. “Temple is pleased to reach a resolution of this matter,” said Englert.
The scandal first arose when U.S. News found out Temple had been misreporting important data — things like the average undergrad GPA of its applicants and the number of applicants to have taken the GMAT entrance exam — that helps determine the school’s overall rankings. The school’s online MBA, which had been ranked number one in the entire country for four years running, was the most notable to be lumped in with the misreporting.
When it discovered the juked stats, U.S. News removed Temple’s online MBA from the rankings entirely. Temple, meanwhile, hired the law firm Jones Day to investigate, which ended up producing this pretty damning statement: “Fox’s reporting of inaccurate information to U.S. News was done knowingly and intentionally for the purpose of improving or maintaining Fox’s standing in the relevant U.S. News rankings.”
As part of the carnage, Temple fired Fox School dean Moshe Porat — which is why Porat is now suing Temple for libel. He claims the school made him into a scapegoat.
Speaking of lawsuits, last December Temple also settled a class action lawsuit brought forth by nearly 3,000 students who alleged the flubbed rankings had devalued their Temple degrees. As part of that deal, Temple agreed to pay out $4 million to roughly 1,000 online MBA students, and another $1.5 million to 2,000 students in other programs. Temple also agreed to set up a $5,000 scholarship for a student who is interested in studying … business ethics.
But even with that class action suit and AG Shapiro’s investigation settled, there may be more pain for Temple on the horizon. Last July, the Inquirer reported that the Department of Education was opening up a separate probe into the school. There’s been no further official word on that investigation, which likely means it’s still ongoing. (A spokesperson for the Department of Education says they won’t confirm or deny any investigations.)
Of course while all this has been happening, U.S. News has continued to release new college rankings. But you won’t catch Temple’s Fox School of Business anywhere in the 2019 edition — they didn’t send in their stats. “We needed to make sure we had the right processes in place before we started submitting numbers again,” says spokesperson Ray Betzner. Call it a self-imposed academic probation.