Temple Fox Ranking Scandal Worsens

Temple University’s Fos School of Business

Temple University today (July 25) acknowledged that its MBA rankings scandal was even more pervasive than previously disclosed. An ongoing review has found that misreporting of critical data went far beyond its online MBA program which had been ranked first by U.S. News for four consecutive years as a result of falsified data.

The university revealed that false data was also supplied on six other business programs at its Fox School of Business: the Executive MBA, Global MBA, part-time MBA, Master of Science in Human Resources Management, Master of Science in Digital Innovation in Marketing, and an online Bachelor of Business Administration.

“These programs all had issues related to the reporting of one or more metrics, including the number of new entrants providing GRE/GMAT scores, student indebtedness and applicants’ undergraduate GPAs,” according to a statement from Temple President Richard M. Englert and Provost JoAnne A. Epps.

SCHOOL DID NOT DISCLOSE MANY DETAILS OF THE ADDITIONAL FRAUD NOR WHETHER ANYONE ELSE WAS DISCIPLINED

“For the Online Bachelor of Business Administration, misreporting related to student indebtedness was found. As a result, we have reported to U.S. News that we cannot verify data related to these programs, and we are not participating in or submitting business school surveys at this time.”

The school did not disclose whether any other staffers at Fox were either disciplined or fired as a result of the fraud. The latest statement also provided little additional detail of the fraud at the additional programs or how long the misreporting had gone on.

The university ousted long-time Fox Dean Moshe Porat from his job on July 9 after an investigation by the law firm of Jones Day found that the school had knowingly reported falsified data to U.S. News so that several of its MBA programs would receive higher rankings than they deserved (see Temple Fox Dean Sacked For Falsifying Rankings Data).

UNIVERSITY HAS BEEN ‘CAREFULLY SCRUTINIZING RANKINGS DATA FOR OTHER FOX PROGRAMS’

Former Temple Fox School of Business Dean M. Moshe Porat was ousted July 9. Temple photo

While the Jones Day report largely focused on the fraud involving its online MBA program, investigators reveals that it also impacted the school’s full-time MBA program. The new statement came out of an ongoing reivew in which “the university has been carefully scrutinizing rankings data submissions to identify misreporting for other Fox programs,” explained Englert and Epps.

“We want all the members of the university community to know that, with respect to the misreporting of information at the Fox School, you had a right to expect this information would be accurate and honest,” according to the statement. “We deeply regret that this did not happen. We will do more than own this problem. We will fix it. And none of this takes away from the quality education that our Fox School students receive, or from the excellent teaching and research of its faculty.”

The fraudulent reporting of data at Fox under former Dean Porat has emerged as the largest rankings scandal involving a business school ever. It has sent shock waves through the community. “This type of flagrant misreporting is pretty shocking,” says Matt Turner, a market researcher at the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business who is the school’s steward for all external media rankings. “While ranking surveys frequently subject schools to poorly defined questions, forcing administrators to interpret their meanings, this is not the case here.  The metrics mentioned in this article are as straightforward and objective as you can get.”

As previously reported, falsified data was submitted to U.S. News for at least four years and possibly more over multiple programs. Jones Day found that the forrmer dean, who insiders claim created a culture of intimidation at the school, applied pressure on underlings to inflate numbers that would help the school’s programs rise in the rankings.

‘A CONCERTED, RANKING-FOCUSED STRATEGY BY THE FORMER DEAN’

“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.”

Only two days ago, Temple turned to an insider as interim dean to begin the process of restoring the reputation of its business school (see Temple Fox Turns To Insider To Clean Up Scandal’s Mess). The university appointed finance professor and finance department chair Ronald C. Anderson to at least temporarily succeed Moshe Porat. The school said it expected Anderson to serve in the job for roughly two years as it conducts a search for a permanent dean.

The fallout from the scandal has been considerable (see Why Temple Should Claw Back $2 Million In Pay & Strip Former Dean of Tenure). The university today disclosed that it is facing an inquiry from the U.S. Department of Education. 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 began looking into the school’s historical reports to see if further action is warranted.

TEMPLE VERIFIED ITS OVERALL COLLEGE RANKINGS SUBMISSIONS TO U.S. NEWS FOR 2018 AND 1019

Temple also announced today that it verified the accuracy of its submissions for both the 2018 and 2019 rankings for the magazine’s Best Colleges lists. “The university conducted a painstaking review of the voluminous data contained in these submissions,” according to its statement. “On July 20, Temple provided U.S. News with the requested letter, in which we verified the accuracy of our submissions for both the 2018 and 2019 rankings. We also made three corrections: one inadvertent transposition and two typographical errors. Additionally, we updated originally reported endowment information to ensure consistency in survey responses. U.S. News also had requested information on additional programs, and that review is underway. 

Temple President Richard M. Englert and Provost JoAnne A. Epps assured faculty, staff, students and alumni that the university will share additional updates as needed.

“Integrity in the way we conduct and represent ourselves to the world is a fundamental value at Temple,” according to their joint statement. “The university is committed to the highest standards of accuracy in its data submissions to rankings organizations and has implemented rigorous new university-wide procedures to ensure this. As we said earlier this month, Temple is in contact with a number of agencies that have an interest in this matter. We are updating them as new information develops. We continue to diligently pursue the review of rankings data and will share additional updates.”

They also thanked Temple staffers for “working so diligently in carefully reviewing thousands upon thousands of data elements in the Fox School and university-wide. It is through their tireless efforts that we are able to ensure we report proper information going forward, and can be open and transparent with all of you.”

DON’T MISS: MBA RANKINGS: WHY ARE SCHOOLS CHEATING?

About the Author...

John A. Byrne

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.