The dean of Temple University’s Fox School of Business, who stepped in amidst the biggest university ranking scandal in history, will step down in June 2023. Ronald Anderson, professor of finance, will return to the Fox faculty at that time, according to a Tuesday announcement from Temple provost Gregory Mandel.
Anderson was first appointed interim dean of Fox in July 2018 following the ousting of Moshe Porat, who was convicted by a jury for knowingly submitting false data to U.S. News & World Report for the school’s online MBA, EMBA, and part time MBA programs. Porat was sentenced in March to 14-month in federal prison for his role in orchestrating the scheme. Porat is appealing the conviction and is currently out on bail.
“Ron took on the role of dean of Temple’s largest school and college at an exceptionally challenging time,” Mandel writes in his message to colleagues. “In July 2018 when he was first named dean, the school was in need of a calm, steadying voice to lead it forward. Ron was able to provide all of that and more. Over the past four years, he has helped guide the school through unprecedented challenges and uncertainty and worked to regain the trust of peers and rebuild the school’s reputation.”
The school will conduct a national search for Anderson’s successor.
ANDERSON APPOINTED FULL-TIME DEAN IN JULY 2019
When he was first appointed interim dean, Anderson thought Fox would see a quick turnaround from the rankings scandal that had embroiled his predecessor, Anderson told Poets&Quants in a wide ranging and candid interview in March. That didn’t pan out. Instead, as the Jones Day investigation went on, it became more clear it was not a clerical error – as Anderson and other Fox faculty had once believed – but an orchestrated effort to knowingly submit false data to the prominent rankings magazine. Lawsuits soon followed, first by students who had been defrauded by the scheme and then by Porat himself.
Anderson was hesitant to take on the full-time job of rebuilding Fox at the time, a job he by then knew would take many years. Anderson was appointed the full-time position in July 2019.
“One of the things that I always knew in academia, but perhaps I didn’t know as strongly as I do now: We are nothing but our reputations–as researchers, as teachers, and as institutions. We have to hold that as a really, really high standard that we would never touch,” Anderson told Poets&Quants in March.
Porat’s sentencing closed a saga stretching more than four years. (See Anatomy Of A Business School Rankings Fraud.) In November 2021, a jury convicted Porat on one count each of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for repeatedly lying to U.S. News & World Report in order to boost Fox’s performance in its online and part-time MBA rankings. After seven days of testimony, it took the jury less than an hour to return a guilty verdict.
‘IT COULD NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN’
In our March interview, Anderson outlined to P&Q why a similar ranking scandal could never again occur at Fox.
As dean, Anderson created a new governance structure in the dean’s office to provide more transparency and accountability. Whereas Porat had only two direct reports, Anderson has seven.
Fox also pulled out of all rankings for the first several years after the scandal and created an Analytics and Assessment unit that checks every data point coming out of Fox for ranking purposes. Temple University, meanwhile, created its Data Verification Unit, which provides a third check on Fox (and other colleges’) data.
“Then it comes back to me, I sign it and we submit it. It can’t happen again, it would be impossible,” Anderson said in March.
Anderson also led Fox through the successful reaccreditation with the AASB which had put the school on probation after the scandal. And, he changed Fox from having a rankings strategy, implemented under Porat, to one focused on contect. “If we get the content right, it will make a huge difference in our students’ lives, and hopefully, it’s reflected in the rankings,” Anderson said.
During his tenure, Anderson also launched the Center for Ethics, Diversity and Workplace Culture, a new hub for research, dialogue and innovation, according to Temple’s statement.
A DIFFICULT TENURE
In 2012, Porat hired Anderson, a finance professor at American University for 10 years, as chair of Fox’s finance department. Anderson was appointed interim dean two weeks after Porat was fired. “It was a pretty unsettling, kind of shocking time for most of us,” Anderson said.
He was appointed the full-time dead a year later, and said at the time he would serve for one term.
Besides the ranking scandal and all the work to rebuild Fox’s reputation, Anderson
navigated the pandemic disruptions while Temple University is facing a 1500-student drop in undergraduate enrollment this fall which will be felt by Fox as well, Anderson told the Philadelphia Inquirer after the announcement.
PORAT REMAINS OUT ON BAIL
On May 2, Judge Gerald J. Pappert of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied Porat’s request to release him from his prison sentence and his $250,000 fine while his appeals worked their way through the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Pappert ordered Porat to begin his 14-month prison term on May 9.
But, the appellate court stepped in on the same day Porat was to report to prison to grant his request for bail pending the appeal.
Porat’s two co-conspirators in the case were sentenced in May. Marjorie O’Neill, former finance manager at Fox who pleaded guilty to submitting the false data under Porat’s direction, received one year of probation and was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service and pay a $1,000 fine. Isaac Gottlieb, a professor who back-engineered the rankings methodology for Porat, was sentenced to six months of house arrest along with three years’ probation and ordered to pay a $100,000 penalty.
Read Temple University’s statement on Anderson’s announcement here.