In the wake of a major rankings scandal at Temple University’s Fox school of Business, the main accrediting agency for business schools has moved up a previously scheduled re-accreditation review for school to early next year from the spring of 2020. The AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International) decision follows its July 10th request to the school to supply details regarding the misreporting of data and remediation efforts.
The AACSB’s speeded up review was disclosed today (August 10) by Temple University President Richard M. Englert and Provost JoAnne A. Epps in an emailed update on the controversy which led to the loss of Fox’s rankings at U.S. News as well as the ouster of the school’s dean. Temple today revealed to the AACSB that its questionnaire from the accrediting agency for 2017-2018 contained “minor variations” between currently calculated numbers and the then-reported numbers. “These errors appear to be largely attributable to the challenges of replication due to data being compiled at different points in time during a single term, survey question interpretation and human error,” the school maintained.
Temple also reported that it notified The Princeton Review today to disclose that at least one inaccurate data point reported to U.S. News was also used in reports to The Princeton Review. Temple said it continues to keep the U.S. Department of Education updated about its ongoing review of past Fox School reports and the procedures that are being put into place to ensure greater data integrity. The university also noted that it is working with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office to provide the information that it is seeking.
The school acknowledged that Temple’s College of Education and the Lewis Katz School of Medicine sent some incorrect data to U.S. News for its graduate program rankings for 2019. Information from the College of Engineering and the Beasley School of Law were verified, Temple reported.
THE RANKINGS FRAUD WAS A YEARS-LONG EFFORT INVOLVING SEVEN FOX SCHOOL PROGRAMS
After the school told U.S. News that it had “misreported” data for its online MBA program, which had placed first in that ranking for four consecutive years, U.S. News tossed the school off its ranking on Jan. 24th and the university hired the law firm of Jones Day to conduct an investigation at the business school.
The Jones Day investigative team concluded in early July that the school knowingly and intentionally reported inaccurate information to U.S. News to improve or maintain the school’s online MBA ranking (see The Full Jones Day Report On The Fox Rankings Scandal). Subsequently, Temple has acknowledged that the fraudulent behavior extended far beyond its online MBA program. On July 25th, the school said an ongoing review revealed that false data was also supplied on six other business programs at Fox School: 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.
The investigators at Jones Day had also discovered that Dean Moshe Porat and other Fox personnel made clear that improving or maintaining Fox’s position in rankings was a key priority. “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.”
THE FULL LETTER SENT TO THE TEMPLE COMMUNITY
To the Temple community,
Today, we have several updates for you regarding data integrity at Temple University. This update, and all of our information regarding this topic, can be found at Temple’s data integrity website: www.temple.edu/about/data-integrity. In the future, this site will be the primary source for updates regarding past reporting and other developments related to data integrity at Fox and the university.
Since the initial discovery and self-reporting of inaccurate data earlier this year, we have received requests from regulators, accreditors and ranking agencies to supply information about data reported by the Fox School of Business and, in some cases, other areas of the university. We continue to make progress in responding to those requests.
U.S. News & World Report
In July, U.S. News & World Report asked that we verify the most recently submitted data for the university overall, and for programs in several schools and colleges at Temple, including the Fox School of Business. We verified the accuracy of submissions for both the 2018 and 2019 Best Colleges rankings and subsequently responded to U.S. News’ inquiry about data specific to the Fox School. The announcement regarding the Fox program data can be found here.
In addition, U.S. News asked Temple to verify data for professional and graduate programs that have most recently submitted survey information, namely the College of Engineering, College of Education, James E. Beasley School of Law and Lewis Katz School of Medicine. That work has been completed and, while errors were found in two of the reports, the errors were few in number and there was no indication of deliberate misreporting. This information has been reported to U.S. News. Additional details can be found in the FAQ and the data integrity site.
Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
The Fox School of Business has been accredited by the AACSB since 1934. AACSB contacted Temple July 10 asking for details regarding the misreporting of data and remediation efforts.
We have been providing regular updates to the AACSB, and this week we formally responded to the July 10 letter, noting that the submission of inaccurate rankings data included multiple programs, as was reported July 25. We also updated the AACSB on our remediation and corrective measures.
The AACSB has moved up its re-accreditation review for the Fox School from Spring 2020 to early 2019. Temple will continue to keep the agency up to date on Fox’s compliance with the AACSB’s standards.
Other Ranking and Rating Surveys
We are also in the process of reviewing Fox survey responses to other ranking and rating agencies, including The Princeton Review.
Today we notified The Princeton Review that a review of data submitted to it shows that at least one inaccurate data point reported to U.S. News was also used in reports to The Princeton Review. Please check back with the FAQ and the data integrity site for updated information regarding those reviews.
The university continues to keep the U.S. Department of Education updated on our progress in analyzing past Fox School reports and the procedures that are being put into place to ensure greater data integrity. In addition, the university is working with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office to provide the information that it is seeking.
Moving forward at the Fox School of Business
Interim Dean Ron Anderson, appointed two weeks ago, has committed to transparency and accountability and already has begun taking actions in furtherance of these goals. Dean Anderson has:
- publicly acknowledged the Fox School’s past reporting errors and issued apologies to stakeholders;
restructured key administrative functions (i.e., enrollment management and marketing, finance and human resources);
- examined and adjusted responsibilities of management personnel;
- appointed a business/finance manager and is preparing to appoint a director of human resources;
- met and will continue to meet with various stakeholders, including students, faculty and staff, to address concerns and answer questions; and
- committed to continuing conversations with faculty and staff to establish a positive culture that focuses on outcomes for Fox students.
In addition, the university and Dean Anderson have committed to working with an external auditing firm to review all Fox rankings submissions and spot-check those of other schools, colleges and applicable units.
We have been impressed with Dean Anderson’s progress in such a short period of time and pledge to him our full support as we all prepare for the start of the academic year.
We want to thank everyone who has been involved in this process. As we have pledged in the past, Temple remains dedicated to being open about our findings in this matter. Once again, we encourage you to use the Temple data integrity website, which will be your primary source for updates.
Richard M. Englert
JoAnne A. Epps
Executive Vice President and Provost