Temple University today (July 23) turned to an insider as interim dean to begin the process of restoring the reputation of its business school after an investigation found that the school had knowingly submitted false data to U.S. News to boost its MBA rankings. The university appointed finance professor and finance department chair Ronald C. Anderson to at least temporarily succeed Moshe Porat who had been fired from his job on July 9 over the rankings scandal (see Temple Fox Dean Sacked For Falsifying Rankings Data).
A national search for a permanent dean is expected to be conducted during the 2019-2020 academic year. He is expected to serve as interim dean for about two years, giving him enough time to bring some stability to the Philadelphia-based business school. Anderson is replacing a man who is nearly synonymous with the Fox School because Porat, 71, had been the school’s dean since 1996.
His academic expertise in internal control systems and corporate governance should come in handy given the situation he has inherited. In the wake of the scandal, Anderson is walking into a crisis situation. Besides the major damage to the school and university’s reputation, he will have to deal with the fallout created by his predecessor. Accreditation agencies are now looking into the rankings fraud. Former students are joining an existing class action suit against the university. The state attorney general’s office has opened a probe into the scandal. Even U.S. News is finally looking into the school’s historical reports to see if further action is warranted.
PORAT CREATED A CULTURE OF INTIMIDATION AT THE BUSINESS SCHOOL
For many at the school, Anderson’s appointment is bound to be viewed with relief. His predecessor created what many called a culture of intimidation at Fox. He was feared as much as he was respected by faculty and staff, and the investigation of the scandal by law firm Jones Day singled out Porat for an emphasis on rankings and for the fraud. “Fox had in place a concerted, rankings-focused strategy including detailed analyses of U.S. News’s rankings methodology and strategies tied to specific U.S. News data metrics, which strategy was promoted internally by the Dean and other Fox personnel,” the investigation found. “The environment fostered by the school’s emphasis on rankings contributed to the reporting of inaccurate information to U.S. News. Moreover, the Dean’s focus on rankings, coupled with his personal management style, caused Fox personnel who interacted with the Dean on ranking-related matters to feel pressure to perform in this regard.”
Anderson, 59, joined Temple in 2012, from American University where he had taught from 1999 to 2012. He is an unusual academic, having held a wide variety of domestic and international jobs with Schlumberger Limited during a near-11 year stint with the company. He left the oilfield services company in 1992 to pursue his doctorate in finance at Texas A&M University.
“After careful consideration, and following conversations with a number of strong candidates, the provost and I agreed Ron Anderson is uniquely positioned to guide the Fox School of Business moving forward,” Englert said in a statement. “Ron has led significant growth in the Department of Finance, which is one of the most popular majors at Temple. He is an accomplished researcher and a well-regarded teacher who takes great pride in his students’ success. His professional experiences, both in industry and academia, are well suited for this critical leadership role.”
A FORMER CORPORATE EXECUTIVE WHO TRANSITIONED INTO ACADEMIA
Anderson’s background includes a career in domestic and international business, followed by academic experience, including at American University. As chair of the Department of Finance, which has more than 1,400 students across all programs, he has overseen the largest department in the Fox School and one of the largest at Temple.
The university said Anderson has received numerous research and teaching excellence awards during his academic career, while directing undergraduate- and graduate-level courses in international finance, financial strategy and corporate valuation. Anderson’s research has been published in leading journals such as the Journal of Finance, the Journal of Financial Economics and the Journal of Accounting and Economics.
“Ron recognizes that a leader’s willingness to listen and engage is important in a successful enterprise, and he has just the right mindset, style and skillset to lead effectively, yet collaboratively,” Epps said in a statement.
As dean, Anderson will lead the Fox School’s over 9,000 students and its more than 225 full-time faculty members across nine departments. Established in 1918 and celebrating its centennial, the Fox School is the largest, most comprehensive business school in the Philadelphia region and one of the largest in the world. It offers 16 undergraduate majors, four distinct MBA programs and 14 specialized masters programs, as well as a PhD program with 10 concentrations. The School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) is the largest provider of tourism, hospitality, sport and recreation management education in Greater Philadelphia.
A native of Franklin, Pennsylvania, Anderson lives in Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties section. He received an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh, where he also completed his undergraduate degree in engineering.