New Temple Fox Dean: Ranking Scandal ‘Could Never Happen Again’

Fox School of Business at Temple University.

I noticed that a few current Temple and Fox employees wrote letters to the court on Dean Porat’s behalf before his sentencing. Was there a constituency of Fox employees who stayed loyal to Porat throughout the investigation and trial?

One thing about the trial, and I’ll say this for myself and I’ll say it for everybody at Temple, we actually learned an incredible amount from your writing and from the Philadelphia Inquirer, because we didn’t know a lot of that stuff. So as it came out, the support clearly dwindled.

On the flip side, though, Moshe did a lot of good things here. We have beautiful infrastructure, we have beautiful classrooms, the faculty is amazing when it comes to research and teaching. He had done a really nice job building the school. I think, particularly with the more senior faculty, the people who have been here a long time, he had gotten them through some really difficult periods. So, yeah, they expressed a fair amount of loyalty and some of them still do.

What was the mood like in those first meetings with faculty?

In the initial ones, it was absolute shock and bewilderment. They just didn’t believe that it could be true. I think the other thing, though, is that the faculty and the staff cared very, very deeply about how this would affect the students.

What has Fox and Temple done to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again?

The first thing I did was reorganize the dean’s office into a new governance structure. It was a very opaque environment before that in which one or two people made all the decisions. I separated a lot of the functions–personnel was separate from finance, academics was separate, the research function was separated somewhat from the teaching function and so forth. So whereas Porat only had two direct reports, I have seven. So the left hand always knows what the right hand is doing at this point. I also allow, and I want, my senior staff to challenge me. We’re very good about that.

The other thing that we did almost immediately is establish what we call our performance analytics unit, Analytics and Assessment. We came off the rankings market for about two years. We didn’t submit data to anybody because, in academia, you’re nothing but your reputation. So we pulled out of the market while we were going through this.

We established Analytics and Assessment so that everything that comes out of Fox now is checked here at the school, it goes to central and it’s checked again. And then Temple started what we call the Data Verification Unit and it’s checked a third time. Then it comes back to me, I sign it and we submit it. It can’t happen again, it would be impossible. So I do feel good about how seriously we took this, because we have started resubmitting to the rankings organizations here in the last couple of years.

The other thing is our accrediting body, AACSB, put us on a form of probation right after this happened. I want to say that AACSB was a fabulous partner in working through this. The way that they accredit schools provided a roadmap for us to start working out of this. The first thing that we did starting in October of that year, we went into the strategic planning process. The strategy under the prior dean had been a ranking strategy, and obviously, that wasn’t going to work anymore, and it wasn’t anything that we wanted to do. So we developed a new strategy based on educational innovation, research excellence, inclusive culture, and community engagement.

That took us about a year because I wanted consensus and buy-in from students, faculty, staff, and all of our stakeholders. So we’ve been working on that plan now for about two and a half years. And it’s made a huge difference at Fox because rather than focusing on rankings, we now focus on content. If we get the content right, it will make a huge difference in our students’ lives, and hopefully, it’s reflected in the rankings.

What are some of the measurements of that strategy? How do you know if you’re hitting your goal posts?

One of the things we take great pride in is our student outcomes, and we call them excellent student outcomes. So if students are looking to get jobs, and that’s typically what they are looking to do after business school, I want them to get good jobs. I want them to get the jobs that they want. Our undergraduates, for example, we place 93% of them within three months of graduation, and many of them are getting multiple offers. We look at placement, the number of offers, the amount that they’re earning. One of the things that we do suffer a little bit from here in Philadelphia, is that Philadelphians don’t like to leave Philly. So I’m trying to get our average wage up for the undergraduates, and that requires a little more mobility on their part.

For MBA students, it’s kind of the same thing. For those in the full-time program, we have 100% placement.

Next Page: Has MBA rankings culture gone too far? + How has the scandal impacted enrollments?

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