Poets&Quants’ 10 Biggest Scandals Of The Decade 

Former Temple Fox School of Business Dean M. Moshe Porat

3. A Rankings Scandal For The Ages At Temple University

When news broke in the spring of 2019 that embattled former Temple University Fox School of Business Dean M. Moshe Porat was suing his school nearly a year after being fired, we dubbed Temple’s ongoing travails “the cockroach of ranking scandals” — because it just wouldn’t die. Porat’s deanship had lasted for two decades. And his association with the university went even further back than that, to 1976, when Porat first immigrated from Israel to the U.S. to attend Temple as a graduate student. But Porat was fired in July 2018 after it came out that the Fox School had been knowingly reporting fraudulent data to U.S. News to bolster its placement in the publication’s online MBA ranking. Porat alleged he was unfairly removed from his post.

“The administration at Temple took away the job I loved, damaged my health, and destroyed my reputation and the legacy of my life’s work I spent decades building,” Porat said in a lengthy statement published last May on the website of Clare Locke, the law firm representing him. “They did this with a false narrative invented for its expediency in public relations — and to deflect attention from the University’s own role in all of this. I have been made a scapegoat.” A judge rejected Temple’s attempt to have the case dismissed in July 2019.

In his statement, Porat alleged the school lied about his involvement in the false reporting of key data points, which resulted in Fox’s online MBA program being removed from the U.S. News ranking of online MBA programs. It has since returned to the ranking at 88th; in Poets&Quants‘ 2020 ranking, however, the school is unranked. The scandal prompted the Fox School to hire an outside investigative firm, which found that Fox provided U.S. News with “inaccurate information across multiple data metrics that are part of the publication’s OMBA rankings methodology.” The investigation revealed that Fox provided U.S. News with erroneous information relating to other programs as well, on certain occasions doing so “knowingly and intentionally for the purpose of improving or maintaining Fox’s standing in the relevant U.S. News rankings.” (See the full report here.)

The scandal sent shockwaves through the entire graduate business education community. But in December 2019, Temple reached a settlement with Pennsylvania’s attorney general that included $250,000 in new scholarships for students, as well as guarantees of reform in data handling, training for staff, and annual compliance assessments. And Porat continues to be listed on Fox’s website as a professor in risk, insurance, and healthcare management.

The Jane Hotel bar where Katie Brehm’s attack occurred

2. Sex Harassment In The Faculty, Allegations Of Sex Assault Among MBAs At Columbia Business School

Months after a multi-million-dollar sexual harassment case between two professors — itself a major scandal — another serious case of sexual misconduct surfaced at Columbia Business School in 2018. In November of that year, a first-year MBA student came to Poet&Quants alleging she and other classmates had been drugged and raped in October by other full-time MBA students at Columbia. And what the student, Katie Brehm, did in reaction to the brutal attack was incredibly courageous: The 31-year-old professional wrote an email to her 70 fellow students in Cluster A, one of several groups assigned to take all of the first-year core classes together.

Brehm said she wrote the letter as much for clarity as anything else. She had little recollection of what exactly happened the night she was assaulted at a social event celebrating the end of mid-term exams. She instead was forced to rely on the recollections of her classmates and friends. From what she could piece together, Brehm became convinced that a tall, white male classmate slipped a date-rape drug into the bourbon she ordered at the bar — and then took advantage of her when she blacked out.

Brehm said the night ended with a sidewalk spill that led to the diagnosis of a concussion; a rape kit assessment in a New York City hospital that found bruises on her inner thighs and vagina, indicating signs of forced penetration; and endless questioning of friends about what exactly happened at a private party attended by hundreds of Columbia Business School students.

Adding to her trauma and frustration was what Brehm characterized as Columbia’s lack of response to her pleas for justice. There was no follow-up from the dean of students after a 20-minute meeting on November 7, she said, shortly after she sent the email to her Cluster A classmates. The dean, she added, never even sent a follow-up email or made a phone call to check up on Brehm to make sure she was okay.

Brehm told P&Q that the school was protecting and harboring two criminals. ”They have sat on allegations of drug-assisted sexual assault for over three weeks,” she said in November 2018. She hired a law firm to explore the potential of a civil suit against the school for failing to adequately deal with the serious charges and to protect her and the other female students at the school; Columbia Dean Glenn Hubbard, however, disputed her characterization, saying the school handled the charges with “the utmost seriousness.” 

Brehm’s ordeal followed a highly publicized trial in July 2018 involving a former assistant professor of finance and economics who accused a senior colleague at Columbia Business School, Professor Geert Bekaert, of sexual harassment and career sabotage after she was denied tenure. A jury sided with Enrichetta Ravina, awarding her $1.25 million, though the award was considerably less than the $30 million she had sought. Enrichetta is now a visiting professor at Northwestern Kellogg; Bekaert continues to teach finance at CBS.

Enrichetta Ravina, a former assistant professor of finance and economics at Columbia Business School who was denied tenure, accused senior faculty member Professor Geert Bekaert of sexual harassment and sabotage. A jury awarded her more than a million dollars

Dishonorable Mention: Who Cooked The Books At Tulane’s B-School?

In 2013, Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business admitted that it falsely inflated its average GMAT scores by an astounding 35 points for five consecutive years from 2007 to 2011. The school also conceded that it had falsely increased the number of completed applications it received by an average of 116 applications over the same time period.

The false reports went to U.S. News & World Report so that Freeman would be ranked more highly by the magazine’s annual lists of the best full-time MBA programs in the U.S. The disclosures were made as a result of an investigation by the law firm of Jones Day, which had been called in last month to do the probe by Tulane University’s Office of General Counsel.

From 2010 to 2012, the Freeman School increased its ranking by 10 full places to 43rd in 2012 from 53rd in 2010. Among other things, the school’s position in U.S. News’ ranking was based on an apparently inflated average GMAT of its enrolled MBA class of 670 and a lower-than-actual acceptance rate of 56.7%. Average GMAT scores loomed large in the U.S. News methodology for calculating its MBA rankings, at the time carrying a total weight of 16.25%. A school’s acceptance rate, which would be lower based on an inflated number of total applications, received less weight, only 1.25%.

As a result of the scandal, Tulane went unranked by U.S. News until 2018, when it returned to the list at 63rd; in 2020, it slipped to 74th. Tulane is 56th in the latest Poets&Quants aggregate ranking.

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