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Temple University business dean ousted over years of ‘false’ data

Under Dean Moshe Porat, the Fox School of Business was found to have “knowingly provided false information” to at least one ranking organization.

Temple's Alter Hall, home of the Fox School of Business. (Photo courtesy of Temple University)

The yearly, joyous announcement of a national No. 1 ranking from Temple University’s Fox School of Business Online MBA program in the U.S. News & World Report was actually caused by data manipulation, incorrect interpretations and knowing misreporting, according to a months-long investigation conducted by law firm Jones Day. Jones Day interviewed 17 Temple staffers, scoured hard drives and pored over 32,000 documents at the North Philly university.

On Monday, Temple University President Richard Englert announced that Fox School Dean Moshe Porat had been asked to step down, and published a seven-page summary detailing the investigations into what Fox initially referred to as “an error in data.”

“It is my duty to report that the Fox School, under the leadership of Dean Moshe Porat, knowingly provided false information to at least one rankings organization about the Online MBA,” said Englert. “In addition to the misreporting of the number of students who took the GMAT from 2015 to 2018, 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 indebtedness.”

Let’s break down the key findings from the probe:

  • Data points inaccurately provided to U.S. News include the number of entrants who provided GMAT scores, the mean undergraduate GPA of entrants, number applicants who received offers of admission and student debt.
  • Fox leadership and employees created “conditions that contributed to the reporting of inaccurate information,” with pressure to improve and maintain rankings contributing to the reporting of inaccurate information.
  • In 2013, a committee to verify the data submitted to rankings organizations was dismissed. The change in procedure was initiated by Porat.
  • An employee who was “principally responsible for preparing and submitting Fox’s responses” knowingly and intentionally misreported information to U.S. News and failed to correct inaccuracies with respect to other information. The probe was not able to determine whether this employee was acting at the specific direction of other Fox personnel.
  • There were multiple opportunities for other Fox personnel to observe and/or correct inaccuracies in information that had been provided to U.S. News, but these inaccuracies were not corrected either before or after submission

Stemming from the investigation’s findings, Temple said it will deploy a series of measures, including a new university-wide policy regarding rankings, new checks and balances for rankings data collection and reporting and new data analytics staff. It will also share information with from the report with accrediting bodies and the U.S. Department of Education.

“We have every expectation that the Fox Online MBA program will return to its rightful place among the nation’s top programs of its kind in 2019 and beyond,” said Porat after the “errors” were first reported to U.S. News in January. “Rankings are a byproduct of quality, and our focus will remain where it always has — on delivering high-quality programs and service to our students.”

Raymond Betzner, Temple’s Associate Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Communications, declined Technical.ly’s request for information on how many rank-and-file staffers, if any, had been let go from the Fox School.

“We’re taking all appropriate actions but, out of respect to our employees, we’re not providing additional information,” Betzner said.

“I am deeply saddened by these developments, I am confident we are taking the right steps to address this issue,” Englert said in his statement. “Our message here is simple: What happened at the Fox School cannot be allowed to happen again at Temple.”

Read the report’s findings here.

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